Manchester United will be hoping to pick up where they left off before the international break when Newcastle visit Old Trafford this afternoon.
The Red Devils picked up a healthy seven points from a possible nine in the opening weeks of the new Premier League campaign, and the addition of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo will provide a significant boost to their ambitions this season.
However, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have a difficult decision to make regarding who starts in midfield, with Scott McTominay unavailable for the 20-time English champions today due to injury.
There was also a doubt over Fred due to a dispute involving the Brazilian FA and coronavirus restrictions, but he has now been cleared to play.
The duo normally form either a double pivot alongside each other in United’s engine room, or if Solskjaer is feeling more adventurous, he drops one for a more attacking option.
On this occasion, the Norwegian will be forced to field a different setup in the centre of the park, handing an opportunity to one of the club’s fringe plays.
The experienced campaigner would perhaps be the safe option for Solskjaer, yet a fixture at Old Trafford against a struggling Newcastle side on Ronaldo’s homecoming is no time to play things safe.
Therefore, he must bring Donny van de Beek into the starting lineup, giving the Netherlands international a perfect opportunity to showcase his true potential and stake a claim for a regular spot in the first XI.
Van de Beek arrived on English shores with a sizeable reputation after scoring 41 goals and providing 34 assists in 175 games for Ajax, as well as winning a domestic double in 2018/19 as they reached the Champions League semi-finals.
Nevertheless, the 24-year-old struggled in his maiden Premier League campaign, making just four top-flight starts last term as he attempted to get to grips with his new surroundings.
He did catch the eye from time to time, though. One such occasion was against Istanbul Basaksehir while on European duty, and his impressive showing drew praise from former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves.
“I thought Van de Beek was close to perfect. He is so unselfish, he can just fit in and play the right balls everywhere,” said the BT Sport pundit.
Van de Beek’s previous exploits for Ajax illustrate that he can be a real game-changer when on top form, and today’s fixture could be the ideal opportunity for him to show that in a United shirt, so Solskjaer must give the 24-year-old the opportunity to rediscover his golden touch.