Man Utd cannot have any more Donny van de Beek-style transfer nightmares

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Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek has joined Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt on loan until the end of the season.

The 26-year-old has been a major disappointment for United with just six Premier League starts since moving from Ajax in 2020 for £40 million.

Frankfurt sports director Markus Krosche told his club’s website: “Donny van de Beek fits our game idea perfectly and is an important piece of the puzzle for our team.”

But Van de Beek – a £40 million signing from Ajax who would go on to make just six Premier League starts over a thoroughly miserable three-and-a-half years in Manchester – is as good an example as any of the aimless hire-and-hope mentality that has taken root at Old Trafford.

The Netherlands midfielder has completed a loan move to Eintracht Frankfurt until the end of the season; yet another flop United are unable to sell.

There is the option of a permanent transfer at the end of it that would earn United an initial £9.5 million with a further £2.6 million in add-ons and, in that regard, the club can only hope Van de Beek delivers more than he did previously on loan at Everton.

Van de Beek (right) also flopped on loan at Everton CREDIT: Getty Images/Tony McArdle

There have been too many players who have gone out on loan only to underperform and return more unwanted than ever. With the purse strings tight and another big summer of rebuilding ahead – when did we last not say that? – United could do with Van de Beek giving Frankfurt ample reason to want to turn that loan into a permanent deal.

Ratcliffe and his director of sport at Ineos, Sir Dave Brailsford, know that United are never going to emerge from their slumber until the club start buying and selling with far greater success. It is priority No 1 for the incoming minority shareholder and his team.

Complete lack of suitability

Repeat failed purchases over a long period have a severely damaging cumulative effect on and off the pitch. Just taken in isolation, for example, the £40 million United blew on Van de Beek and the £30 million they paid above their original valuation for another Ajax player, Antony, two years later and you more or less have the bulk of the cash for what could have been a bid for Harry Kane in the summer.

One senior figure on the transfer side of things at United once told this correspondent that “sometimes you don’t know what they’ll be like until they are in the building”. There is a ring of truth to that. Some clubs are extremely thorough in their due diligence, tick every box and still a signing may not work out.

But if you are not doing that homework well enough then the chances of failure inevitably spike, all the more so if you also happen to be identifying the wrong players.

And Van de Beek was yet another of those wrongs, a player who did not address any of United’s pressing midfield needs at the time, not least the absence of a world-class anchorman, and that is before you get to his complete lack of suitability to the intensity and aggression of the Premier League.

It is debatable as to whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ever wanted Van de Beek in the first place but his interim replacement, Ralf Rangnick, had established after one session that the Dutchman was simply not cut out to play for United in the Premier League.

Van de Beek has failed to impress every new United manager CREDIT: Getty Images/Ash Donelon

Perhaps even more damning was the stance adopted by Erik ten Hag, who has recruited heavily on players with Eredivisie links. Van de Beek had been a key part of the Ajax side under Ten Hag who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 and won the Eredivisie title that season, but it quickly became apparent that the manager was not having the player at United.

His only two starts in the league under Ten Hag ended after 66 minutes and 47 minutes respectively and he was omitted from United’s Champions League squad this season after a summer in which the club could not even get him out on loan.

Van de Beek wore an almost permanently pained, fearful expression and that was reflected on the pitch where he routinely looked lost and overcome by the pace and physicality of what was going on around him.

There simply cannot be any more Donny van de Beek signings now that Ineos are in the building.

 

 

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