Donyell Malen has become a part of the conveyer belt of talents that PSV Eindhoven would be proud of. The young Dutchman has been on fire for his club in what has been a breakout season for the 20-year-old.
Considering how good Malen has been, links with Barcelona seem very much justified. While this isn’t really Malen’s first breakout, it’s the first time he is playing regularly.
Last season, Malen had made 31 appearances for PSV in the Eredivisie, but only six were starts. But this time around, he has made ten starts already in the league, and has already scored ten times, impressing in the European competition too (via WhoScored).
In the Europa League, Malen has scored thrice in two games. He also scored for the Dutch national team recently, showing how he is already good enough for the international level.
In all competitions for the club, Malen has scored 27 times and has 12 assists. He has started only 27 games – a number that will attract any top clubs (Via Transfermarkt).
Malen is the sort of striker who likes to get on the ball and dribble. This season, he has completed 1.5 dribbles per game as well as playing 1.6 key passes per game. That is a heavy improvement from last season’s numbers: 1.1 and 0.9, respectively (via Whoscored).
His build makes him a physical outlet too. The former Arsenal man has won 1.3 aerial duels per game for PSV, even though he likes to get on the ball.
An all-round striker, Malen is well capable of playing on either side too. But he is known to be a workhorse, as his former Ajax coach Brian Tevreden compared him to another former fellow Gunner (via FourFourTwo):
“It’s hard to describe him. If I have to compare him with a player in the Premier League, he seems a bit like Alexis Sanchez.”
The way he has developed has made Malen look like a regret for Arsenal. He had joined PSV from Arsenal in the summer of 2017 for an undisclosed fee. After a spell with the club’s Under-21s, a call-up to the first-team followed at the beginning of last season.
It is worth noting that Malen has always had an impressive goalscoring record. For the Arsenal Under-18s, he had scored 11 times. He had scored 13 times for the PSV Under-21s and he has just carried that run onto the first-team since last season.
Barca would be attracted by how much he has scored. A club like them needs goalscorers that take the load off Lionel Messi, and Luis Suarez is not getting any younger with every passing day. Summer signing Antoine Griezmann has predominantly played on the left and hasn’t connected well.
Malen’s versatility and workhorse approach fits the bill perfectly for Barca. He can play up front and use his completeness. The Dutchman can feed off Lionel Messi’s creative abilities and get at the receiving ends of the Argentine’s passes.
He has the flair to play alongside Messi too. The fact that he’s also a creator means that players around him benefit a lot from his presence and his completeness allows him to play in any system. He still has to learn a lot since he’s still 20, but playing at a huge club would help him with that.
Like Frenkie de Jong, he would match a recruitment policy that allows Barca to sign younger players. With the club heading towards a transition, they need more players like Malen.