We wrote earlier this year how Erik Ten Hag being appointed as Manchester United manager may be the last hope for salvaging Donny van de Beek’s career at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag managed Van de Beek at Ajax and was oversaw the midfielder’s move to Old Trafford.
Speaking to Voetball International in 2020, Ten Hag talked up Van de Beek’s qualities and said Ajax would miss him.
“He is an absolute key player for us, a very modern midfielder with lots of depth in his play. It’s clear that we will miss him a lot once he’s gone.”
It is to Ten Hag’s credit that Ajax did not miss Van de Beek much at all. Nor Hakim Ziyech, nor Matthijs De Lift, nor Frenkie De Jong. All were key players for Ajax, and the manager was able to rebuild the team effectively, which speaks to his managerial quality.
Speaking separately about Van de Beek’s positional qualities, Ten Hag praised him.
He told DutchSoccerSite that he can play a central midfield position when he has a true defensive midfielder alongside him, comparing him to Frenkie De Jong: “Donny is also a player who likes to be on the move. For both Donny and Frenkie it is a strength.”
Since joining United, Van de Beek has had a tough time. He has played 50 games, but the minutes breakdown make this more like 20 full matches, with him struggling to earn a starting role.
Van de Beek is currently on loan at Everton, and rather than making United look silly, his performances have left supporters fairly unimpressed.
Ten Hag can go on to get the best out of him, if he believes his qualities can translate well to the fast pace of the Premier League. So far we just haven’t seen it.
Turning his fortunes around would be a real feather in the cap of the potentially incoming boss, should he take charge at Old Trafford.
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- Ten Hag’s comments when Van de Beek left Ajax for Old Trafford
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- The three biggest wins of Ten Hag’s managerial career