Donny van de Beek has addressed claims that the appointment of new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will lead to more first-team football.
The two worked together at Ajax for two-and-a-half seasons prior to the midfielder signing for United ahead of the 2020/21 season in a £35million move. Van de Beek was a star at Ajax – whom he helped reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 – but has struggled to replicate that impact in English football.
The midfielder made just four Premier League starts in his first 18 months at Old Trafford, prior to joining Everton on a loan deal in January. He featured just seven times for the Merseyside club, as an injury limited his role, and has now found himself back at United and involved in pre-season training.
However, Van de Beek has not started in any of the side’s three pre-season matches to date against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace. Scott McTominay and Fred have continued to be the first-choice central midfield pair under Ten Hag, as it had been in previous seasons.
With United in the market to sign Frenkie de Jong – Van de Beek’s former midfield partner at Ajax – there has been an element of surprise that the Dutchman’s former boss at Ajax has now opted to utilise him more during his early days in the Old Trafford dugout.
Speaking after the Red Devils’ pre-season victory over Crystal Palace, Van de Beek said: “Of course, everyone was saying that because I worked with him at Ajax, but, in the end, you have to play good from yourself and it doesn’t make any sense who is the coach.
“You have to find your role in the team and, of course, he knows me as a player, but that means nothing. I have to show it for myself.”
The player reiterated his desire to cement his place in United’s strongest line-up and to show why the club signed him two years ago: “I don’t think everything was bad, I think I also showed a few good moments but just again I will never change as a player. You can improve things, but you never have to change and I will not do that. Every player has his own qualities, me as well, and that’s it.”
Van de Beek will be hopeful of featuring more as United’s pre-season schedule continues with further friendlies against Aston Villa, Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano before they start their Premier League season against Brighton on August 7.