Donny van de Beek’s stock under Erik ten Hag has risen immensely since last season. The Dutchman found himself get linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Inter and Tottenham this past summer but stayed at Amsterdam. But it is a matter of time before he does leave.
The midfielder was immense for the Amsterdam side in their march to the Champions League semi-final last season. He scored against Spurs and Juventus, assisting against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
It was his second season as a regular for Ajax, as the 2017-18 campaign was the breakout term for the Dutchman. But ever since Erik ten Hag joined Ajax at the turn of the year in 2018, his career has changed. He scored five goals and five assists in the second half of the season under Ten Hag during the 2017-18 campaign.
In the Eredivisie last season, Van de Beek scored nine times and assisted ten times. In all competitions, he scored 17 times and racked up a tally of 13 assists.
With Ten Hag now being linked with a move to Bayern Munich, Van de Beek is a player he should considering dragging along.
The Bavarians signed Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona, as they looked to address their need of an attacking midfielder. He has started very well, having appeared nine times in the Bundesliga. He has scored twice, assisting thrice so far.
The Brazilian’s performances against Koln and Paderborn have stood out, as he assisted once and scored once in both games. After a failed spell at Barcelona, Coutinho seems to be enjoying the freedom he is getting in a preferred position in a less possession-oriented league.
Bayern have the option of signing Coutinho for a fee of €120 million. Considering how good he has been, it does seem like a possibility. But with Ten Hag seemingly Bayern’s first option for their permanent manager’s role next summer, some glances must be spared for Van de Beek.
Still 22, Van de Beek is immensely versatile. He can play deeper, but thrives on playing as the most advanced midfielder in either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Ten Hag’s fluid and attacking system has brought the best out of his abilities.
His direct passing and impeccable movement are the biggest part of his style. He has the intelligence to pick out spaces that others leave in midfield. He has the engine to exploit them on a consistent basis.
Ten Hag’s usage of him sees Van de Beek do this regularly in the areas behind a false nine in Dusan Tadic. Playing alongside quick players like Quincy Promes and Dusan Tadic, Van de Beek is tasked with moving swiftly between the lines and opening up spaces for the other three.
Bayern may not have a false nine like Dusan Tadic, but Timo Werner has been linked. He is more of a false nine than Robert Lewandowski. Having him play in front of Van de Beek will get the best out of the Dutchman. He will have pacy wingers in Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry around him, making it even better.
His versatility makes him an even better addition. Leon Goretzka’s injury issues haven’t helped him. Bayern will get depth in midfield. Their lack of cover in the defensive midfield will be helped by Van de Beek’s ability to play as a defensive midfielder too.
Having said that, he will need the foundation of a stable midfield to thrive. He has had Lisandro Martinez impress this season. Last season, Frenkie de Jong helped him thrive.
Bayern would need the likes of Goretzka and Thiago Alcantara to play at their best, if they would want to get the most out of Van de Beek. If they do, there is no doubt that the 22-year-old will become a star for them. No one knows him better than Ten Hag.