Donny van de Beek made his first start in Everton colours after joining on loan from Manchester United on transfer deadline day, and was in the thick of things right away
On-loan Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek showed his parent club what they are missing in Everton’s victory over Leeds United, while also demonstrating an ability to quickly adapt to a new system.
The Dutchman was brought into the starting line-up by Frank Lampard, the man responsible for bringing him to Goodison Park on transfer deadline day at the end of January.
Van de Beek came on for Andre Gomes against Newcastle United in midweek, making his first Everton appearance in the process, and took Gomes’ place in the starting line-up for Everton’s game at home to Leeds as a test of his credentials in a midfield pivot.
Everton started with a back three, with Seamus Coleman getting forward as an extra man after beginning the game as the right-most of three centre-backs, and Van de Beek played his part as the Irishman put Lampard’s side in front.
Michael Keane doubled the hosts’ lead before half-time, before Anthony Gordon deflected in Richarlison’s shot to make the points safe.
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Van de Beek had moved into space long before he received the ball from Richarlison, and found Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a low cross before the ball popped up for Coleman to head home.
However, the former Ajax man impressed as much with his all-round work as he did with that attacking contribution, with no player able to better his three first-half tackles.
When Van de Beek was joined at Goodison Park by Dele Alli, there were concerns the pair might be competing for just one spot, but Lampard’s decision to bring on the former Tottenham man for Dominic Calvert-Lewin while leaving his other new recruit on the pitch was an interesting one.
And Van de Beek’s display was even enough to win over some Manchester United supporters, who were left frustrated after watching him impress on a day when their own midfield failed to deliver against Southampton.
“Donny is unreal. Playing in the pivot which i heard he couldn’t do for 18 months,” one fan tweeted.
“Great to see Donny Van De Beek running the midfield in the first half against Leeds. If only @manutd had a player like him” was the verdict from another.
Everton fans were immediately won over, too, with many lamenting the fact his move was only temporary and one writing “If only the Dele and van de Beek deals were the other way around and Donny was our player and Dele was on loan”.
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Speaking after moving to Goodison Park in January, Van de Beek said: “I hope to bring my football qualities, my passing, and, of course, scoring goals. It is a big part of my game to score and give assists and I will try to do that again.
“And it is not only offensive, you have to defend as a midfielder and I can do that as well.”
The 24-year-old had played in a variety of roles at Ajax, including as a number six and as a false nine, and linked up well with Allan against Leeds despite his parent club struggling to find room for him in a double pivot.
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Van de Beek started just four Premier League games in 18 months as a Manchester United player, with neither Ole Gunnar Solskjaer nor Ralf Rangnick able to provide him with regular first team football.
Bruno Fernandes was often the man chosen ahead of the Dutchman at United, and it won’t have escaped people’s attention that the Portugal international struggled during the lunchtime kick-off.
“At one point McTominay was left on his own in midfield, then it was Pogba left on his own in midfield,” former Man Utd midfielder Paul Scholes said on BT Sport.
“Where Bruno Fernandes was playing I don’t know. He’s all over the pitch.”
The victory for Everton, meanwhile, was a significant one after their midweek defeat at Newcastle, and helped them open up a gap to the bottom three once more.