After an inconsistent start to the season, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could do with some good news for once.
Whilst much has been made of Frank Lampard’s decision to give the youth a chance at Chelsea, the Red Devils know exactly what a young talent (or two) can do to brighten the mood at Old Trafford – the famed Class of ’92 springs to mind, although the likes of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams have all played their part in recent memory as well.
Solskjaer has had his fair share of criticism in recent weeks, but if there’s one thing the critics cannot fault him for, it’s giving the academy graduates the time to shine. Now he must put his faith in Donny van de Beek if recent reports are to be believed…
According to The Manchester Evening News, Paul Pogba has spoken quite candidly about leaving United whilst away on international duty with France, which is precisely why Solskjaer must unleash Van de Beek against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward signed the Dutch midfielder from Ajax for £35m on a five-year contract, with £5m in add-ons in performance-related bonuses. Since then, the 23-year-old has made just ten appearances in all competitions, with the majority coming by way of a cameo as a substitute from the bench.
In five games in the Premier League this season, Van de Beek has already scored one goal so far, despite the fact Solskjaer still hasn’t handed him his first start in the English first division. By comparison, Pogba has only scored once in the top flight since April 2019, which is quite shocking for one of the highest-paid players at the club.
There’s no denying the fact that Pogba is one of the best players in the world when he is firing on all cylinders but the trouble is that his form (no goal in the league this season) has been far too inconsistent in recent weeks.
Van de Beek’s habit of breaking into the box and finding the back of the net is something that United don’t have in many of their central midfield options which is why he must be knocking on Solskjaer’s door as he will be desperate for the chance to prove himself on a regular basis.
The club legend once lauded him as a “fantastic” beast, whilst former United player Owen Hargreaves claimed he could become the English club’s version of Thomas Muller. The versatile player has played a pivotal part in Bayern Munich and Germany’s successes in recent years, with 205 goals and 201 assists to his name in all competitions for the defending Bundesliga champions.
Similarly the Dutchman, who predominantly plays as a centre-midfielder, can also be deployed in the defensive midfield and attacking midfield. He still has some way to go before he can hit the same heights as Muller but he has taken a big step in the right direction, having scored 41 goals and supplied 34 assists in 175 games for Ajax.
Solskjaer has shown he is willing to give the youngsters a chance like he did with Greenwood last season. Doing the same with Van de Beek will go some way towards justifying his hefty price-tag. The ball is in his court, that’s for sure.