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A versatile midfielder with potential, a closer look at Donny Van De Beek

Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur – UEFA Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Johan Cruijff ArenA
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Manchester United have signed Holland midfielder Donny Van De Beek from Ajax.

The 23-year-old helped the Dutch club reach the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League, which saw his stock rise as he was linked with a string of top European clubs.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the qualities of the youngster.

A good schooling

Donny Van De Beek (back row, third from left) came through the renowned Ajax youth system

Donny Van De Beek (back row, third from left) came through the renowned Ajax youth system (John Walton/PA)

Van De Beek has been with the Ajax youth system since the age of eight and followed a path well trodden before making his first-team debut against Celtic in a Europa League tie during November 2015. Like any from the production line, Van De Beek has learned to become as comfortable with his play off the ball as he is with it at his feet. How quickly, though, he can bring those home-grown skills into the hustle and bustle of the Premier League will be the acid test.

Forward thinking

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Ajax’s European run – which was eventually ended by a remarkable late fightback from Tottenham in Amsterdam – highlighted how versatile Van De Beek can be at slotting into different midfield positions whether needed to operate centrally or ‘box-to-box’. A fine technician, Van De Beek can switch play with a ranging crossfield ball as efficiently as playing a short give and go. Always on the front foot, his positive approach opens up plenty of space behind defenders – which you expect will be latched upon by United’s maundering frontline.

Movement matters

Donny Van De Beek (left) has impressed in the Champions League

Van De Beek (left) has impressed in the Champions League (Mike Egerton/PA)

Supplementing an attack when not in possession is another of Van De Beek’s strengths, with the holding position or looking to stretch the opposition key features of the Dutchman’s approach. He is not shy to cover plenty of grass as Van De Beek looks to make an impact in the final third with late runs in the penalty area – but he also knows when standing your ground is the best course of action.

The best is yet to come

At just 23, Van De Beek is expected to develop into one of the most impressive midfielders in the game. Already fast-tracked into the senior Holland national team, Van De Beek has come a long way in a short time. Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he will be given every opportunity to fulfil that potential and grow alongside the likes of England’s own Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.