Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists summer signing Donny Van De Beek has a ‘big, big part’ to play for Manchester United this season despite the midfielder’s limited role to date.
Expectations were high after United pulled off somewhat of a coup in signing the talented 23-year-old from Ajax for an initial fee of €39 million (£34.1m).
But Van De Beek has started more matches for Holland than United since making the switch, having been restricted to five appearances off the bench and just two starting roles in the Carabao Cup.
Dutch great Marco Van Basten is among those to have questioned Van De Beek’s decision to move to the north west following his inauspicious start, but Solskjaer says his time will come soon enough.
‘When players come into a new league, a new team, it’s always going to be a time of [transition],’ said the United boss, who spent his fair share of time on the bench during his playing days.
‘When Donny has played, he’s played really well. I think it says a lot about our depth of quality in the squad that we don’t have to use him every single game because we have other players as well.
‘I also think it says everything about our ambitions, we want to go and push on, we want to go and challenge for trophies this season.
‘Donny is going to play a big, big part this year. At the moment, I realise the topic is Donny Van De Beek and it’s nice for some players or commentators to have a little go.
‘I know that you’re short for time when you’re on telly and you have to put your points across very quickly, but you have to know that you don’t have to start the first three games to be a very important player in the squad.
‘I would be disappointed if some of my teammates said that I wasn’t important at Man United but I didn’t start many games, so Donny’s going to be very, very important for us, don’t worry about that.’
United certainly have strength in depth in midfield now, with Van De Beek joined on the bench by Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic in the three matches since the international break.
Solskjaer has preferred Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Scott McTominay as starters, but the latter is certain Van De Beek will make his mark on the side soon enough.
‘You can see the way Donny comes to training every day, a big smile on his face, wanting to work hard, wanting to really impress everybody,’ homegrown midfielder McTominay said.
‘As the manager said, I’m so confident Donny will be such an important figure in this team and throughout the whole season.
‘The way he’s come in has lifted everyone else along with Alex [Telles], Edinson [Cavani], big signings like that who are top-quality players can really lift the dressing room.
‘I feel like we’ve seen that already with the way Alex played in Paris and obviously Donny coming off the bench and showing what ability he has got.
‘I feel like there’s no time to panic for Donny. People can be so quick to come to an assumption that he’s not playing and things like that.
‘Give him time, let him adapt to the league, let him settle into his new house or wherever he is living and really let him concentrate on his season.’
Solskjaer’s selections in terms of personnel and system will be interesting against RB Leipzig as United look to build on last week’s impressive Champions League win at Paris St Germain.
Die Roten Bullen have risen remarkably since their controversial formation in 2009, with the side reaching last season’s Champions League semi-finals and currently top of the Bundesliga standings.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side may be widely disliked but they boast some outstanding talents, including French defender Dayot Upamecano – the 22-year-old strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford over the summer.
‘There’s always rumours and speculation about good players for Manchester United,’ Solskjaer said of the centre back ahead of Wednesday’s Group H encounter.
‘I’ve always tried to respect that they are players for other teams and don’t want to comment on every player that we are linked to.
‘But since he’s playing against us tomorrow, I know he’s a very good player so we can see him close up tomorrow.’
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