Manchester United have finalised an agreement in the region of £40m with Ajax for Donny van de Beek, with the player reportedly undergoing a medical last evening.
Talks between the two clubs accelerated over the weekend, with Donny van de Beek left out of the Ajax side which faced Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly on Saturday.
Despite his relatively young age, the 23-year-old is expected to bring a wealth of experience to the Manchester United midfield and help ease the pressure on both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.
#1 Donny van de Beek as a defensive-midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 set-up
This system would allow Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to accommodate his most potent attacking threats in the most efficient manner.
While Donny van de Beek is most effective in a box-to-box role, he has the experience of shielding the back-four and could provide the perfect platform for Paul Pogba to roam in a double midfield pivot.
Van de Beek made six appearances as a defensive midfielder for Ajax last season and can operate as Solskjaer’s anchor-man ahead of Nemanja Matic.
The Dutch midfielder has grabbed more goals playing as a central midfielder, although most of his assists came while playing further up the pitch.
Playing Van de Beek deeper would not only solidify Manchester United’s defensive structure but the 23-year-old can also control games from deep.
#2 Donny van de Beek as a central midfield enforcer in a 4-1-2-1-2 (Diamond) set-up
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has utilized the narrow formation sparingly at Manchester United and has had little success with the system.
But Donny van de Beek would add a new dimension to Manchester United’s midfield and the Dutch international could thrive in a box-to-box role in a fluid midfield with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.
Van de Beek scored eight goals and registered five assists in the Eredivisie last term and could replace Fernandes behind the forwards if the Portuguese playmaker is injured or in need of rest.
#3 Donny van de Beek as a playmaker in a 4-3-3 set-up
Versatility is Donny van de Beek’s biggest asset as he can occupy the deep-lying playmaker’s role of Paul Pogba, play as a defensive midfielder like Nemanja Matic and fill in for Bruno Fernandes as a No.10 when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to make changes to his side.
Van de Beek’s best football has come while playing as an attacking midfielder for Ajax, and it is in this advanced role where he could be best utilized by Manchester United.
There is no doubting Van de Beek’s talent as one of the best creative players in Europe but his arrival as an attacking midfielder would surely have to see either Fernandes or Pogba drop out of an extremely attacking line up.
Manchester United’s packed fixture schedule next season makes this the most likely set-up with Van de Beek a great rotation option to help Solskjaer cope with games to come thick and fast.
It seems strange that a player of Van de Beek’s quality might not start for the Premier League giants but there are no guarantees he would establish himself as indispensable under Solskjaer.