Donny van de Beek: Why Everton’s other deadline-day signing could impact Manchester United man’s development
The midfielder was joined by Dele Alli at Goodison Park in the final hours of the market.
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A smile, a laugh and a sense of optimism, three things which have largely been amiss from his first 18 months in England.
The midfielder hasn’t started a single Premier League game this season, and has come across as a largely frustrated figure.
But upon signing for Everton he spoke of his enthusiasm at joining the club and his desire to work under Frank Lampard.
“I can learn a lot from him because he was a little bit in the same position – a midfield player who scored a lot of goals,” the former Ajax man said in his signing video.
“I hope to bring my football qualities, my passing, and, of course, scoring goals. It is a big part of my game to score and give assists and I will try to do that again. And it is not only offensive, you have to defend as a midfielder and I can do that as well.”
Van de Beek has joined Everton for one reason: to get minutes on the pitch. It’s something he desperately needs and even United referenced it when they announced the news of his loan move on their website.
So how upbeat will Van de Beek really have felt once he learnt the news that Dele Alli was set to join him at Goodison Park?
The pair have a similar backstory, impressive young midfield talents who have fallen on hard times and are looking to reinvigorate their career under the watch of Frank Lampard. But then, can both simultaneously achieve their ambitions at Everton?
Can both impress at Goodison?
It’s a damning indictment of Van de Beek’s time at United that no-one is really sure what type of midfielder he is - although he thrived at Ajax as a creative, goalscoring midfielder. It’s the position he largely played as the Dutch side advanced to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
This, of course, is the same role Alli has played his best football in and he scored 18 league goals in the 2016/17 season from that position.
Van de Beek and Alli have both played slightly deeper at times in the intervening years, but whether they can both operate in the same team is another question. Neither have particularly natural instincts for defending, and Lampard tended to set up in a 4-3-3 shape at Chelsea.
It’s difficult to see where the balance comes from a midfield trio of Van de Beek and Alli alongside Allan or Abdoulaye Doucoure, and therefore it seems unlikely that both can excel at the same time for Everton.
And which midfielder are the Toffees really going to spend extensive time trying to reprogramme, the loanee who will leave next summer or their new asset which could cost up to £40m?
Van de Beek’s one criteria when selecting a new club was the need for regular game-time in his preferred position, something which has eluded him at Old Trafford, and could well do in Merseyside as well.