Donny van de Beek loan move could prove Man Utd wrong on Bruno Fernandes issue

Manchester United haven’t been able to get the best out of Donny van de Beek since his arrival from Ajax, but the midfielder could use a rumoured loan move to dispel a big myth about his game

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Donny van de Beek’s time at Manchester United has felt off since about a month after he arrived from Ajax in 2020, and it has been no surprise to learn he is reportedly among the cohort of unhappy players at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman’s father-in-law Dennis Bergkamp is said to have attempted to accelerate a loan exit for Van de Beek, contacting his former Arsenal colleague Patrick Vieira over a potential move to Vieira’s Crystal Palace side.

Things haven’t worked out for the 24-year-old despite a goal on his United debut – coincidentally against Palace – and he has started just four Premier League games despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being sacked and Ralf Rangnick taking interim charge.

He has started just once under Rangnick, in a Champions League draw with Young Boys in December, with four further appearances coming from the bench.

Part of the issue at United appears to be an unwillingness to incorporate Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes in the same starting XI, with the pair signing in the same calendar year but arguably being too similar when it comes to their best role.

However, Palace could end up being the ideal destination for United’s out-of-favour midfielder to show there’s more to his game.

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A change of manager hasn’t helped Van de Beek turn things around



On the surface of things, it might look as though Palace isn’t the best destination for Van de Beek given the success of on-loan star Conor Gallagher.

The Chelsea man is the top scorer for Vieira’s side with seven goals, getting forward well from midfield in a manner we saw from Van de Beek himself during his time in Amsterdam.

This is what United fans thought they would be getting after the club handed over £40m ahead of their 2020-21 campaign, and a debut goal against the Eagles felt promising.

His second goal featured a similar ability to find space in the box, but the problem came from the fact that the two strikes came more than a year apart.

If the goals aren’t flowing, perhaps it’s time for a new approach. And perhaps Selhurst Park is the place to do that.

“I don’t know what the manager thinks and what he expects from me but I played [a deeper] role before with Ajax,” Van de Beek said in 2021, when Solskjaer was still at the helm.

“Of course at the end I was a 10 but I also played a few games as a number six, so I think I can play this.

“The way we play, for me, I think number six or number eight [is my best position]… I don’t care where, I just want to play so it doesn’t matter where.”

While there hasn’t been a real opportunity to test his mettle further back, and Fernandes’ importance at United means regular time further forward hasn’t been an option.

At Palace, though, there may be a way to incorporate Van de Beek and Gallagher in the same line-up.

Gallagher and Cheikhou Kouyate are the only central midfielders to start more than 10 league games this season, suggesting everyone is at least given a chance to stake their claim, and the declining importance of Luka Milivojevic in particular has opened up a slot for a live audition.

Gallagher has thrived on loan at Palace



There’s every chance it still doesn’t work, of course.

There’s every chance Van de Beek moves out on loan, to Palace or elsewhere, and has the same issues faced at United, or even gets an extended chance as a six and shows why United were unwilling to use him there.

There’s just as good a chance he stays at Old Trafford and sees those issues persist without even getting a chance to show he can be used differently.

If he does go, though, United can potentially watch him play in the same midfield as Gallagher and use it as research for their own deployment of Van de Beek, without even having to risk their own results suffering in the process.

The need for a new deep-lying midfielder has dominated discussion around Manchester United for years, and the consensus from outside has been that they don’t have the solution within their current squad, but what if they’re wrong?

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