The Daily Telegraph Tuesday 1 September 2020 *** 4 What the Dutchman does well... Sport Football Van de Beek’s proven abilities make him low risk for Solskjaer – Player Touches in opp box (per game) Sterling Salah Aguero Silva Jesus 7.8 Van de Beek Pulisic Mahrez By Luke Edwards European leagues, it is not just their own future they are referring to. Van de Beek’s has been bright for many years. A first-team regular by the time he was 20, he was on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or last year, a tribute to the huge impact he had on the Champions League, as Ajax knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus, before succumbing in the final seconds of their semi-final against Tottenham. He could have left last summer but was persuaded to give the club that nurtured him one more season. It was not a difficult sell because Van de Beek is an Ajax supporter. Van de Beek knew it was ‘First-team ready’ talent who has excelled in Ajax melting pot and has experience beyond his years is perfect fit for United 0 2 4 6 – T here is no such thing as a risk-free signing, but in Donny van de Beek Manchester United might just have the closest thing to it. The Ajax midfielder, who is poised to join in a £39.3 million deal, has a CV beyond his 23 years: a rigorous education at Ajax’s famed De Toekomst academy, more than 100 first-team appearances for the club and experience of the grandest stages in European football, including a Champions League semi-final. He has won trophies, too, but more importantly, he has spent his career in a pressure-cooker environment where expectations are unflinchingly high. “Donny is a young player, but he is not a young player on the pitch,” Dusan Tadic, the Ajax captain, told in a recent interview. “He has been in the first team for so long he is like a senior player. Nobody at Ajax thinks of Donny as a young player. He does not play like someone of his age. Donny can be as good as he wants to be. He is a special talent, this club has known that for many years.” Van de Beek is a young man with vast potential but, given his senior debut came five years ago, he will arrive in Manchester “first-team ready” rather than as one for the future. That last phrase is an evocative one in Amsterdam. It is how Ajax brand themselves. “For the Future” adorns all their social media and marketing material and, as a club with the most former academy players performing in the top 2.1 1.6 1.7 0.4 1.5 0.38 0.07 0 0 0.6 0.2 0.23 0.22 0 0.11 The Daily Telegraph 0.53 0.05 0.9 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.8 0.6 1.2 0.7 1.3 1.4 0.9 1.1 0 1 2
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