Gary Neville has dismissed suggestions Donny van de Beek has simply been signed as a Manchester United squad player and believes Paul Pogba’s role could change to accommodate the Dutch midfielder.
Van de Beek was officially announced as United player on Wednesday evening, signing a five-year-contract to remain at Old Trafford until 2025.
As per BBC Sport, United paid an initial £35m fee to Ajax for their homegrown star’s services, a price that seems like an incredibly astute piece of business in the current transfer climate.
Van de Beek will be available for United’s first Premier League game of the season against Crystal Palace on September 19 and there is already plenty of debate about where the 23-year-old will play.
It seems unlikely that Van de Beek will displace key men Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba and that has led many to question whether he has been brought in just to enhance squad depth.
But United great Neville has no doubts that the Dutch international will start, and even thinks Pogba may operate in a slightly deeper role to fit Solskjaer’s most talented attacking midfielders into the same line-up.
“No, I think he will start,” Neville told Stadium Astro, as quoted by the Metro.
“If you look at that area of midfield at United, it does look like they’ve got attacking midfield players in abundance with Pogba, Fernandes and Van de Beek now.
“But we look at the midfield make-up of teams nowadays, we’re not seeing teams play with too many defensive midfield players. “
It used to be that you would have defensive midfield players like Claude Makelele or Jordan Henderson or Fabinho at Liverpool – it looks like Manchester United will play Pogba a little bit deeper or maybe even a different system because I’m sure he [Van de Beek] will start.’
Neville later acknowledged that Pogba may not have the discipline for a defensive midfield role and there is a risk of wasting Pogba’s creative abilities by playing him in front of the back four.
Solskjaer has plenty to ponder about his team selection ahead of the new campaign that begins in under three weeks.
But the Norwegian will be thrilled with the signing of such a versatile, promising talent at a very reasonable price.