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By Dominic Booth Sport Content Editor 11:35, 3 OCT 2021 Sport opinion Donny van de Beek continues to be deprived of Manchester United game-time (Image: 2021 Manchester United FC) Get the United transfer latest, team news, match updates and analysis delivered straight to your inbox every day for free
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Whether it was because the Manchester United manager wanted another player back in the summer transfer window of 2020, whether he's seen something in training that he hasn't liked about the Dutchman, or another less tangible reason, Van de Beek's (lack of) game-time has been revealing.
He's played just five minutes in the Premier League this season and hasn't completed 90 minutes in a meaningful league or Champions League encounter.
And all of this while United have a quite clear issue in the centre of midfield — Van de Beek's specialist position.
Okay, some claim that the 24-year-old is a No.10 and therefore should not usurp Bruno Fernandes as United's most effective player in that spot, but Van de Beek has said it himself that he can play deeper and there was evidence of that during his time at Ajax.
Speaking to Rio Ferdinand's podcast last month, the Dutchman said: “Yes.I think what I've said before, also, I like to play 8 or 6.It's fine.
“They know me because in Ajax they was playing me number 10 a lot.
Yeah, I can also play as a number 8 or 6.”
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“He knows he’s not frozen out,” Solskjaer said.
“This obsession about… It’s Man United and when a headline player is not playing for Man United it’s always going to make headlines.
“But then again I’ve got plenty who don’t play every week, so I don’t have any issues with Donny at all, he knows what he needs to work on, what we want him to work on and he is diligent in his work.
“And he has never let his mood affect his teammates negatively because you have to have that fire in your belly if you are going to make it.”
Van de Beek has indeed been a picture of composure and professionalism throughout his time at United, coming across as a courteous and patient individual for whom, it was universally agreed, his time would come.His debut campaign was a struggle at times but Van de Beek's veneer was always calm.
That broke down a little when he wasn't called upon in the latter stages of United's narrow Champions League win against Villarreal on Wednesday night, as TV cameras showed Van de Beek raging on the bench as Fred and Jesse Lingard were readied as Solskjaer's final substitutes.He threw out his chewing gum and was consoled by Eric Bailly and Dean Henderson.
As it was, Lingard was brought on to play up front and Fred was an emergency left-back due to an Alex Telles injury.
But there is no doubt Van de Beek is reaching the 'now or never' stage at United and he must know it himself.
As supporters continue to throw flak in the direction of the Scott McTominay and Fred midfield axis, the former Ajax man is seen very much as the antidote to United's problems in the centre of the park.
It is not quite as simple as that, although Fred's mistake against Everton and McTominay's ongoing struggles of late must surely open the door for Van de Beek.When you add in the fact that Nemanja Matic struggles to play two full games in a week and uncertainty over Paul Pogba's efficacy in a deeper midfield role, there is only one option.
Van de Beek must be allowed to either succeed or fail with a run of games.If it's the latter, so be it — at least United will know they've given him a chance.
At the moment, frustration is boiling up for virtually everyone with an interest in this situation.After the international break, Van de Beek must play, whatever the consequences.
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