What the stats say about United’s new signing

Manchester United’s new signing Donny van de Beek may only be 23 years old, but the midfielder arrives at Old Trafford with a wealth of experience playing at the highest level.

Donny has already made 175 appearances for Ajax, is an established Dutch international and has demonstrated his class in the Champions League knockout stages.

But what exactly will van de Beek bring to the United midfield, and how does his playing style vary from the Reds’ current crop?

Well, we’ve poured over his stats from the Eredivisie 2019/20 campaign and compared them with United’s midfielders from the most recent Premier League season, to see what Donny will add to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side…

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POSITION

Donny first announced himself as a top talent during Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018/19. During that campaign, our new signing tended to play in the no.10 role, with Frenkie de Jong operating in a deeper role.

However, de Jong’s departure to Barcelona last summer meant Donny often played in a slightly more withdrawn role in 2019/20, allowing Hakim Ziyech and David Neres more offensive freedom.

Not that van de Beek operated solely as box-to-box midfielder last term. When either of his aforementioned team-mates where missing from the XI, Donny tended to slot into a role just off the striker. In fact, the Netherlands international started 19 games in an attacking midfield position last season, and 18 in the centre of the park.

SCORING

Putting the ball in the back of the net is the most important – and difficult – part of the game, so finding a player adept at doing just that is a rare commodity. Thankfully, the Reds’ new recruit knows exactly where the goal is.

The 23-year-old netted 41 times in 175 appearances for Ajax and registered eight in 23 league matches in 2019/20 – that’s a a goal-per-game ratio of 0.38. 

Impressively, only Bruno Fernandes can better that from United’s current midfielders, with the Portuguese international scoring eight goals in 14 Premier League matches, at a goal-per-game ratio of 0.61. Scott McTominay boasts the next best tally, with 0.2 in 2019/20.

Donny also hit the target with 36.4 per cent of his shots in the Eredivisie last term, while his average of 0.75 shots per game would rank him third among United's midfielders, behind Bruno and Andreas Pereira.

Those numbers really do bode well for the Reds, and it appears we’ve added a midfielder with the confidence and capability of adding goals from deeper areas of the pitch.

CREATING

Bruno was the Reds’ most-productive midfielder in 2019/20 in terms of making chances for team-mates, registering 0.53 assists per game.

While Donny’s numbers are a little shy of our no.18’s outstanding record, no other United midfielder can better the Dutchman’s 0.24 assists per 90 minutes in the league last term.

Van de Beek also scores highly in the key-passes-per-game stats, with an excellent tally of 1.8 – one only Paul Pogba (1.9) and Bruno (2.1) bettered.

While Donny clearly likes to thread eye-of-the-needle passes, one thing supporters shouldn’t expect from our new signing is mazy dribbles. He only completed one per game last term, around the same number as Fernandes, McTominay and Nemanja Matic.

Interestingly, Pogba averaged the most dribbles from any United player in the league last term, while Fred was second in that particular statistic.

DEFENSIVE WORK

Creative midfielders don’t always offer a huge amount of protection when out of possession, but it appears Donny is the exception to that rule.

Last year with Ajax, he completed an average of two tackles per league game, a record that is comparable with United’s more defensive-minded midfielders Matic (2.2) and Fred (2.1). 

Meanwhile, Donny made 0.7 interceptions per match last term – a number only Fred (1.3), McTominay (1.1) and Matic (1) significantly bettered.

OVERALL

In van de Beek, United really have signed a midfielder who can do a little bit of everything.

Whether it’s scoring goals, creating chances or stopping opposition attacks, Donny will certainly bring a wide range of skills into United’s already talented midfield.

The excitement for our supporters is that the Dutch international's flexibility gives Ole an extra option in the offensive areas of the pitch and in the centre of the park.

For the boss, the only problem will be trying to select just three from this exceptionally skilful bunch of midfielders.

All statistics sourced via Transfermarkt, FBRef and WhoScored.

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