The $ 48 million rookie Van de Beek is expected to join Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to create a super attacking midfield for Manchester United.
Van de Beek is famous for his ability to attack as a midfielder. He has scored 41 goals in 175 games, including vital goals to help the Dutch earn their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League 2018-2019.
The ability to win the ball in the opponent’s field is also a strong point of the 23-year-old midfielder, making him perfect for playing in a position as high as an attacking midfielder.
However, since MU already owns 2 midfielders Fernandes and Pogba, Van de Beek may have to accept a lower position. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (official coach of MU) prefers the 4-2-3-1 attacking scheme.
Van de Beek’s figures show that he is best suited for the attacking midfielder (number 10) position in the diagram. But the position is already being played by Fernandes.
Therefore, Van de Beek can replace Nemanja Matic, partnering with Pogba in the back.
Although van de Beek doesn’t have defensive qualities like Matic, he always does his job well without the ball. In fact, Van de Beek’s tackling index in the Dutch championship (Eredivisie) last season was 2.2 – not too far from Matic’s 2.6 in the Premier League.
Van de Beek is a hard-working player. Moreover, he has a great orientation capability. His ability to pass accurately will help Manchester United develop more opportunities from the middle of the pitch.
This is very useful when it comes to encountering teams that tend to advocate deep defense kicks.
In the last season of Eredivisie, Ajax held the ball an average of 60% per game. Van de Beek has many times helped the home team penetrate the opponent’s defense thanks to his ability to observe the space and pass the line.
Solskjaer can use Matic to increase the certainty of the midfield MU against strong opponents. But the midfield consisting of Van de Beek, Pogba, and Fernandes will get the crowd excited by their attack abilities.
Solskjaer can also change the scheme. He could sacrifice a winger to use the diamond midfield, with Fernandes kickin in the front, Pogba on the left, Van de Beek on the opposite side, and Matic in the back. In theory, Solskjaer will put four midfielders in their favorite positions using this scheme.
The presence of Matic will keep Pogba and Van de Beek at ease, and it will also allow Fernandes to focus on the task of linking up with strikers. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial can still soar and leave goals in the penalty area for either Pogba or Van de Beek.
More importantly, Van de Beek will help the depth of MU increase. The ability to play in multiple positions in midfield can turn the Dutch player into a secret card. He will help to offload Pogba and Fernandes and make MU’s tactics more unpredictable.
After Fernandes moved in in January, the MU squad in the last season was enough to get them a Champions League ticket.
But at the end of the season, when the players’ stamina declined, Manchester United lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals and was eliminated by Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals.
Solskjaer was criticized for the lack of rotation plan but he understood that the MU squad was not strong enough to do so.
MU still needs additional defense and attack. But Van de Beek’s presence ensured their midline is thick enough. Solskjaer probably does not have to worry about this area anymore.
Van de Beek may not have caught up with the level of Pogba or Fernandes yet, but he is an upgrade over Fred, Scott McTominay, or Andreas Pereira.
If he isn’t the main player, Van de Beek could be a change of strategy – a player capable of creating game-changing moments.
That is another reason why the 23-year-old midfielder was pursued by Manchester United for a long time before signing a five-year contract with a term allowing an extension of one year.