Solskjaer certain van de Beek will play big role

Solskjaer certain van de Beek will play big role

LONDON • Donny van de Beek joined Manchester United just two months ago but speculation is already mounting over the future of the £40 million (S$70.8 million) man from Ajax.

The Dutch midfielder was the club’s biggest signing in the transfer window, but has yet to feature in the starting line-up in either the Premier League or Champions League.

He failed to get off the bench even as United were trying to break the deadlock in their goal-less draw with Chelsea last weekend, prompting criticism from Oranje great Marco van Basten earlier this week.

The former AC Milan striker told Dutch TV that van de Beek had made a mistake by moving to Old Trafford, saying: “Donny shouldn’t have gone to United.

“It’s really bad for a player like Donny to play six or seven games this year. That’s shocking for your rhythm.

“I know he’s earning loads more than he used to. But, as a top player, you have to be critical and look at the chances of playing when you sign for a new club. Donny should have waited for better prospects and signed for another club.”

Other pundits like former United defender Patrice Evra and Graeme Souness have also weighed in, questioning whether the Red Devils actually needed him this summer.

However, at his virtual pre-match press conference ahead of their Champions League Group H game with last season’s semi-finalists, Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leapt to the defence of van de Beek.

Claiming the 23-year-old needed time to settle and insisting that he would play a “big, big part this year”, the United manager said yesterday: “When players come into a new team, a new league, they always need time to adapt.

“When Donny has played, he’s played really well. It says a lot about our depth of quality in the squad that we don’t have to use him every game.

“It’s nice for some players and commentators to have a little go, but you have to know that you don’t have to start the first three games to be a very important player in the squad. He’s going to be important, don’t worry about that.”

United kicked off their European campaign with an impressive 2-1 away win against last season’s runners-up Paris Saint-Germain and Solskjaer said his team were keen to build on that performance.

“We look at every single game as a chance to get three points,” the Norwegian added. “In the group stage of four teams, you’d think 10 points will get you through. Our aim is to get to 10 points as quick as we can.”

Leipzig, now playing their second successive season in the Champions League, made a surprise run to the last four in August off the back of a tight defence marshalled by French international Dayot Upamecano.

The 21-year-old has been heavily linked with United, with the club said to be seeking a more reliable partner for captain Harry Maguire than who they have, and while the transfer window has closed, Solskjaer hinted at a move in the future.

“There’s always rumours and speculation about other players and Manchester United,” he said. “I don’t want to comment on every player we’re linked to.

“But since we’re playing against him… he’s a very good player and we can see him up close tomorrow.”

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