Bruno Fernandes’ absence through suspension against Burnley creates an opportunity, and Donny van de Beek will be looking to take advantage.

Van de Beek is still, somewhat ludicrously, looking for his first Premier League start of the season. This match is his final chance in 2021 to get one.

Given his lack of playing time, Van de Beek will be determined to make it count, and the opportunity to play in an advanced role will suit the Dutchman perfectly.

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Attacking role

Van de Beek was routinely overlooked by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and not much has changed under Ralf Rangnick, although he has not been helped by a double postponement at a time where rotation would have been likely.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

Fernandes’ suspension potentially hands Van de Beek a reprieve from the bench – although there are other options.

In Van de Beek’s rare starts this season he has been deployed defensively, in the Carabao Cup loss to West Ham and the draw with Young Boys.

Van de Beek did not help himself by giving the ball away for Young Boys’ goal, but he was asked to do too much in anchoring a midfield three with Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard completing the trio, in front of a makeshift backline.

It is time for United to redeploy Van de Beek in an attacking role where he can show his best qualities and get into the opposition box.

Van de Beek can show what he is capable of

You wouldn’t know it from his performances or lack of chances at United, but Van de Beek is a dangerman in the opposing penalty box.

In his last three seasons at Ajax, Van de Beek scored an impressive 40 goals and provided 25 assists.

For United he has just two goals in two seasons and one assist, with his most recent strike coming in the defeat to Watford.

WhoScored.com noted Van de Beek registered more touches inside the penalty box in 2019/20 for Ajax than any other midfielder, and also ranked inside the top 10 for possession won in the final third.

This should make him ideal for Rangnick’s pressing game, and Van de Beek can take advantage of space created as defenders get drawn to trying to stop Cristiano Ronaldo.

Playing as part of a two in a 4-2-2-2 also helps Van de Beek out, rather than when he was called on to replace Fernandes last season as a sole attacking midfielder, where the pressure was on him to create.

Instead the creative duties are split, and Van de Beek can apply more focus on getting into the box to join the attack rather than supplying it.

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Vincent Mignott/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

With such a lack of football, don’t expect miracles from the Dutchman, but there is a talented player there who United have failed to get the best out of.

Fernandes’s suspension could give the 24-year-old an opportunity which he simply has to seize, and there is a chance he could even do a better job.

The way Fernandes has given the ball away in recent matches has been frustrating to watch, and Van de Beek will hope to give United more control. There is a chance he could retain his place in the team with a strong showing.

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