Donny van de Beek is looking for a spark to ignite his Manchester United career after a slow start.

Much of the criticism for the Dutchman in midweek was harsh. Observations that he is playing with a lack of confidence may also be fair.

United paid £39 million to sign Van de Beek from Ajax and he is a talented player who the coaching staff need to learn how to get the best out of.

We have taken a look at three of Van de Beek’s top performances for Ajax to see what we can learn…

Tottenham Hotspur v Ajax - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg
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Ajax’s 1-0 win at Tottenham

Van de Beek scored the winner in the Champions League semi-final first leg away against Tottenham.

Ajax lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Van de Beek at the tip of the three man midfield.

What made this work so well was that Ajax’s ‘striker’ was Dusan Tadic, who is ostensibly a winger.

When he moved wide, there were central spaces for Van de Beek to run into up front, and get involved inside the penalty box.

Van de Beek had 55 touches in this game, creating two chances and attempting two shots on target.

What was particularly impressive was his pressing. Van de Beek won four tackles and three interceptions despite doing most of his work in the final third. This was something which was lacking from his performance against West Ham – 1 tackle and 0 interceptions.

Ajax’s 3-0 win at Valencia

Another European away victory, Van de Beek excelled in a similar role to the one he was deployed in against Tottenham.


Starting centrally in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Van de Beek scored one goal and provided one assist in a 3-0 win at the Mestalla.

This was a masterclass in being effective despite limited touches of the ball.

Van de Beek had only 26 touches in 87 minutes and yet was able to have a decisive impact on the game.

Again, his pressing was vital to Ajax’s success, with two tackles and three interceptions. He attempted two shots on target and created one chance.

Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League
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Ajax 4-0 win over FC Utrecht

This dominant home win for Ajax in the 2019/20 season showed a different side to Van de Beek’s game.

He lined up in a deeper role as part of a midfield three in a 4-3-3 formation.

This enabled him more touches in possession, 89 in total, more than any Ajax midfielder.

He also showed a ruthless edge in front of goal, scoring twice from his only two shots on target.

Van de Beek created one chance, had one successful dribble, and completed 89 per cent of his passes.

This was a strong display which showed what the current United star can be capable of in a deeper role.

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