In the Ed Woodward era (yikes), Man Utd fans are not used to their club signing players without several seasons’ worth of tedious, exhausting “will he, won’t he” speculation. This mostly involves lots of hanging around on Twitter waiting for Fabrizio Romano, football’s current most reliable source of transfer talk, to announce a trademark “Here we go!”, a done deal proclamation. Case in point, Jadon Sancho – no one seems to know if he’ll stay at Dortmund or come to Old Trafford, and we’ve been talking about the possibility for months now.
But in a chilling twist, United have quickly, and without fuss, agreed terms with Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, in a deal reportedly worth £35.7m. At face value, this is an excellent signing. The price is right, the player’s age (23) is right, and the need is there – based on his dynamic form for Ajax last season, Van de Beek will definitely strengthen United’s midfield. Best of all, DvdB’s nickname is simple and deadly: ‘Maradonny’ – tremendous scenes.
The main issue for Ole Solskjaer will be, where to play Van de Beek. The Dutchman plays best as a central midfielder or attacking midfielder, and United have Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in those roles. It may be that Pogba drops deeper to accommodate Van de Beek, or it might require more rotation. We’ll see.
You have to imagine former United keeper Edwin van der Sar, who is Ajax’s chief executive, played no small part in directing Van de Beek to Manchester instead of Madrid or Barcelona. Woodward owes him.
With Chelsea and United making big moves this summer, Liverpool and Man City may now have a real fight on their hands.