Donny van de Beek was expected to join Real Madrid after back-to-back stellar Champions League campaigns with Ajax.
Consequently, when Man Utd signed him last summer ahead of the Spanish giants, the deal was seen as an astute coup from the English outfit.
Six months and just one Premier League start later, many pundits and fans alike are yet to figure out Van de Beek’s role and the reason behind his Old Trafford arrival.
To nobody’s surprise, the 23-year-old has failed to threaten Bruno Fernandes’ position behind the frontline. Further, he’s yet to be trusted to protect the backline from midfield, and has been only deployed in a pivot against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.
Former Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk believes the position where the Ajax academy graduate developed in simply doesn’t exist at the Theatre of Dreams.
“The same position play that made him so strong at Ajax is not there at Manchester United. There, the spaces he is looking for between midfield and defence of the opposing team are missing or his teammates let the moment pass by,” Van Marwijk wrote in his column for De Telegraaf.
“His well-timed runs are not recognised there. So, this is also the problem for him.”
The Dutchman also touched upon the lack of compatibility between Van de Beek and his new teammates, adding: “If your teammates overlook you and the game is not aligned with you, you will also need to be able to find your way.
“Then that good team player will have to think more about themselves and also have the technical and tactical qualities to make the difference on their own.”
Hakim Ziyech has also struggled at his new club Chelsea, highlighting the difficulty of getting used to a different style of play to that of Ajax’s possession-based football.
Will these stars, destined for greatness, fully realise their potential at the English sides?