Pogba, Fernandes, and now Van de Beek- Solskjaer’s first summer signing. Where will the Netherlands international fit in the current Red Devils system?
It took until the beginning of September for Manchester United to finally set to their first senior signing of the summer.
The Red Devils have agreed a £40m deal with Ajax to sign Donny van De Beek with the midfielder set to place pen on paper on a five-year contract at United.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid having previously shown a keen interest in Van de Beek, his signing is being seen by many United fans as something of a coup.
That aside, there are questions regarding where Van de Beek fits into Solskjaer’s team given the midfielders already at the club have full potential.
United’s surge towards a third-placed finish in the Premier League last season was built on consistency of selection. Solskjaer benefited from a fully fit squad to secure the Champions League qualification.
Pogba and Fernandes were given the chance to build an encouraging relationship at the heart of the team’s midfield. Meanwhile, Nemanja Matic was capable of protecting the backline behind the team.
Given that, some believe Van de Beek is being brought in as a squad option who can rotate in and out ahead of a relentless campaign. There is however a view, he could potentially become a regular starter should Pogba’s urge to leave the club returns in the next 12 to 18 months.
But given the price tag, it is fair to presume Solskjaer does have more than just a bench role in mind for the latest signing.
Where would Van de Beek fit into the current United line-up?
Largely, Solskjaer has favored a 4-3-3 formation when in charge. If that is to continue, it would seem Van de Beek is being lined up to step in for Matic in a holding midfield role.
Given his 10 goals and 11 assists contribution in all competitions at Ajax, the position mentioned above would limit his potential output in the final third.
This however means Pogba and Fernandes can still occupy the role they shone in during the 2019/20 season final weeks.
Considering Van de Beek’s age, there is nothing to suggest he could not adapt to playing in such a role. He made more successful tackles per 90 minutes last season than either Pogba or Fernandes. While his inclusion in a deeper role would grant United’s midfield a very attacking outlook, they are likely, in theory, to be on the front foot in the majority of the league matches they play in the upcoming season.
If this how Solskjaer chooses to utilize Van de Beek, then, fans could see him revert to a system he used sporadically over the course of the last campaign.