Man United changed transfer strategy since signing Van de Beek

At the time, it looked like a chance deal that saw Manchester United as a team in the transfer market, but the reality was quite different.

When Real Madrid failed to find the money to work out a deal with Ajax for Donny van de Beek during the Covid 2020 transfer window, United quickly stepped in to strengthen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfield. It’s a deal that goes smoothly and is in the spotlight and at £35m it looks like a bargain.

Van de Beek has been of interest to United before. In January 2020, he was shortlisted as a potential attacking midfielder signing, but Bruno Fernandes was at the top of that list.

When Covid hit the budget became an issue and in the summer of 2020, United tried to set up deals for Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jadon Sancho, only to settle for Van de Beek when all are all unattainable. Borussia Dortmund demanded £108m for Sancho, while Villa’s existence in the Premier League on the final day made a move to Grealish more difficult. Maddison has signed a new contract at Leicester as it appears United are looking elsewhere.

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There seems to be a lot to like about Van de Beek’s move. At £35m, he’s significantly cheaper than the other three targets and at 23, he’s the right age for United’s bid. He is also a recent Champions League semi-finalist.

An oncoming goal from the bench on his debut – albeit in a home defeat to Crystal Palace – added to the promise, but it didn’t take long for the alarms to sound. . Solskjaer did not know where to use Van de Beek and the coaches quickly realized he was not fit for the Premier League. It shows the danger of redirecting within a window.

When the transfer was announced on September 2, 2020, Solskjaer said Van de Beek had «all the technical qualities needed to play in this team». Now that quote feels worth mentioning. Premier League matches often go too quickly for the Dutchman, especially Solskjaer’s United. A midfielder with a habit of controlling the ball now plays for a team that almost always attacks quickly and directly. He was out of sync with his teammates.

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