According to the Daily Express, Man United were offered the chance to sign Dutch international midfielder Donny van de Beek for a fee of £35 million during the summer transfer window but the Red Devils opted against firming up their interest in the 22-year-old.
Van de Beek’s stocks were soaring sky-high this summer after his heroics in guiding Ajax to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, as well as the domestic double, in the previous campaign and £35 million was regarded as somewhat of a bargain price for a player of his calibre.
The 22-year-old was one of the most sought-after young talents this summer after registering an eye-watering tally of 17 goals and 13 assists across all competitions last season and Ajax’s decision to cash in on him for a rather modest-looking fee of £35 million did surprise a few.
The Old Trafford hierarchy, though, didn’t share the same opinion and the Red Devils dropped their interest in the Dutch international after baulking at Ajax’s asking price for the star midfielder, much to the disappointment of the fans.
Well, to be honest, £35 million isn’t a lot for a club of United’s stature and considering the global market scenario, as well as the talent and potential of the player involved, it was really difficult to understand as to why such a fee was deemed way over the odds for Donny van de Beek, who had excelled in the Champions League last season.
United went on to spend a combined £130 million on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire in a bid to shore up their backline, while Daniel James was also acquired as a long-term prospect.
However, in doing so, they left plenty of areas unattended, including the central midfield department, which was in dire need of investment following the departure of experienced heads like Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera in back-to-back transfer windows.
Fast-forward the sequence of events to October and the result is there for everybody to see. United currently sit 12th in the Premier League standings after winning only 2 of their first 8 league fixtures and, as painful as it might sound to the club faithful, the Red Devils are only a couple of points above the relegation zone.
Yes, it has come to such a point that a hugely-decorated club of United’s stature are having to fight for survival in the Premier League. It is true that the summer recruits have made a positive impact but it has been pretty apparent from their miserable start that they still have gaping holes to plug in the midfield and attack.
Barring a few gritty displays from academy graduate Scott McTominay in the middle of the park, the likes of Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Fred have all been well below-par, with neither midfielder making any significant contributions in terms of defence or attack.
Plus, with Juan Mata looking like a shadow of his former self, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been forced to rely on the mediocrity of Andreas Pereira and Jese Lingard due to the absence of a versatile midfielder who could possibly be rotated between attacking, defensive and box-to-box roles in the midfield.
To put things into perspective, the lack of creativity in United’s game has been quite ridiculous and it has to be said that things could have been a lot different had the Red Devils not made the blunder of letting a guilt-edged chance to sign Donny van de Beek in the summer pass by.
With his high work-rate, natural elegance, versatility to play multiple roles in the midfield, ability to win back possession, proficiency in carrying the ball forward, knack for making runs into the box to score goals, a devastating eye for killer passes in the final third and, of course, a high level of footballing intelligence that players like Lingard, Fred and McTominay seem to lack, Donny van de Beek could have been the perfect summer arrival for a number of reasons.
Ironically, the fact of the matter is that United didn’t hesitate to dish out a staggering £52 million to bring in a mediocre player like Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk last summer.
Van de Beek is a hell of a lot better than the Brazilian and it is amazing to learn that his availability for a fee much lower than £52 million never seemed to have appealed to the Red Devils.
Leaving aside all the criticism for what has been United’s worst start to the season in three decades, Solskjer hasn’t done a bad job in terms of bringing in new recruits to the club.
However, deliberately missing out on van de Beek will continue to haunt them, unless, of course, they manage to pluck out a like-for-like alternative for a fee as low as £35 million, which looks virtually impossible.
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