Donny van de Beek — what is his playstyle? — how good is he? — how will he fit in? One of his strengths, and perhaps the main one, is his ...
Donny van de Beek
— what is his playstyle?
— how good is he?
— how will he fit in?
One of his strengths, and perhaps the main one, is his spacial awareness, similar to Thomas Müller, with regard to how he manipulates space to create opportunities for others
This would be valuable for us in the final third where we frequently become congested.
Firstly, van de Beek is an offensive-minded player who is a traditional roamer.
He likes to find space in the final third and often drifts into pockets to collect passes. This off-ball movement necessitates a deeper player who can play line-breaking passes.
In addition, he is one of the most efficient midfielders in Europe with regard to his decision making. This is due to his excellent spacial awareness which not only allows him to play efficiently [by finding valuable space] but prevents him from trouble. This thread will look at the following:
• his playing style
• his strengths
• his weaknesses
• how he will fit in
Have a look at his pass reception zones. This is very similar to Paul Pogba’s for us this season except Pogba plays a bit deeper. Van de Beek’s drifting is highly valuable to Ajax because he draws players towards him into “no man’s land” which others exploit.
Can he play in a pivot? Yes. However, he becomes largely limited there because his strengths — off-ball roaming, picking up pockets, playing on the turn, pressing, etc — become restricted. So, he is essentially a no. 10 and should not viewed of as a pivot player.
Also, notice how he attempts these passes from the flanks but mainly inside the box. He does not like to cross from deeper areas as much as he likes to find these pockets. It adds to his highly efficient playstyle which is extremely valuable.
Firstly, he is not a chance creator in the way a De Bruyne, Fernandes or Ziyech is. So, he does not rack up a large quantity of chances created. However, he does create high quality chances and this is where he excels. It is an issue of quantity vs quality.
Secondly, he is not a player who passes between the lines often. This is not to say he cannot do it but, rather, he does not frequently. In fact, he is more of a receiver of these passes. This means he might struggle in line-ups without a line-breaking passer.
Van de Beek is a no. 10 for the most part. He is capable of drifting with verticality (higher and deeper) as well as with horizontality (left and right flanks). He is able to play anywhere behind the forward in our side.
Moreover, he is an excellent finisher and loves to find space in the box. He is not necessarily a profilic goalscorer as that requires a more goal-orientated mindset but once he is in the right zones his conversion is fantastic.
One of his strengths is that he is a low usage player. In a way, we can say he is not a “ball hog”. The below map details his take-ons in the 2019/20 season. The average time before he passed after a take-on was just 2.26 seconds which is very efficient.
Lastly, there has been a lot of talk with United fans regarding pass completion. This isn’t an issue with van de Beek. Due to his playstyle, spacial awareness and efficiency, he retains possession very well:
Solskjær tried to use Lingard and Pereira in many games due to their off-ball activity. However, they would be detrimental on the ball. With van de Beek, Ole now has a player who is better off the ball than them and far more technically gifted on the ball too.
A great signing!
We mentioned his efficiency as part of his playing style. In addition to that, it is also one of his main strengths. Almost 54% of his shots from 2017-20 came from this centralised area in the box which highlights how careful he is.
I suspect he will start many cup games and will start occasional league games depending on the situation. With Fernandes’ durability the chances of him starting as an AM are slim however he can slot in on either side and be effective.
• van de Beek is an upper-tier good player
• he excels off the ball and is a space creator
• he is a hard-working midfielder
• he is not a great chance creator
• he is still quite young
Personally, I feel €40m (£35.7m) is an excellent deal for him.
Last season we really struggled with depth to the extent that Solskjær would delay substitutions. Van de Beek is good enough to be starting for us in terms of his inherent quality and he would improve our depth massively.
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