Saturday’s release of the 30-man shortlist for the 2021 Ballon d’Or brought a reminder of the fact that Manchester United outcast Donny Van De Beek was nominated for the award in 2019 as an Ajax player.
It is, therefore, a huge surprise to see the same player who was named as one of the 30 best players on the planet struggle for minutes at a time where he’s supposed to be nearing his prime, barely two years after the feat.
Before making a big-money £35 million move from Ajax to Manchester United, Van De Beek played a starring role for the Dutch side in the 2018/19 season as they reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. Then aged 22, Van De Beek made 57 appearances for his boyhood club, scoring 17 goals and creating 13 more.
His heroics saw him earn a place on the Ballon d’Or list alongside Ajax teammates Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs De Ligt, and Dusan Tadic. Although he finished in 28th place with zero points, it was great recognition for a player like Van De Beek.
In the next season that was truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dutchman made only 37 appearances for the side, racking up 3,171 minutes and contributing ten goals and 11 assists in all competitions.
After completing a transfer to Premier League giants Manchester United in the summer of 2020, the Dutchman was expected to reach the next level in his career at Old Trafford. He went on to make only 36 appearances in 2020/21, racking up a meagre 1,456 minutes in all. He contributed 1 goal and 2 assists as he struggled to get a look in.
In the 2021/22 season, he has made only three appearances in all competitions. He has completed 90 minutes only once in their Carabao Cup loss to West Ham United. He was hauled off after only 45 minutes as Manchester United lost to Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League. Van De Beek has seen only six minutes of action in the English Premier League this season.
While the Dutchman has remained patient throughout his ordeal at Manchester United, his frustration came to the fore when Manchester United faced Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League and he was left on the bench for the entire encounter. He had to be calmed by his teammates as he made his remonstrated angrily on the bench.
Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand revealed his thoughts on the matter of Van De Beek’s situation at the club.
Ferdinand told VIBE WITH FIVE “I think the big thing with Donny van de Beek – and he’s a great guy, we’ve had him on the show before – he’s a really calm, relaxed guy.” “I think this is a funny situation because if he
was a bad guy and he was volatile and he was loud, he’d be gone. He wouldn’t be at Man United. “And sometimes when you’re too nice maybe, or you’re nice about a situation and you’re polite, you might not get the situation that you really require for yourself. And I think that’s probably the problem for someone like Donny van de Beek.”
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reiterated in the past that the 24-year-old Dutch midfielder remains in his plans, but the Norwegian manager is running out of time to show this to the player.
The Dutch midfielder has lost his place in the Netherlands national team under new manager Louis Van Gaal, and with the 2022 FIFA World Cup just around the corner, the midfielder needs as much game time as possible in the next 12 months.
With Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Fred, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic competing for the midfield positions at Manchester United, it may just be time for Donny Van De Beek to move on.