For a while, it looked like Donny van de Beek was going to be Manchester United’s only name over the summer.
The Dutchman, who was the subject of a late approach from Tottenham, arrived in the first days of September, with United fans hoping to spark a header of action as the pavilion captured the main target Jadon Sancho .
That didn’t happen, of course, and while a finishing day dash included Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri, and Amad Diallo (coming in January), van de Beek was the name which brought the greatest joy at Old Trafford.
After all, here was a player who shone for the famous side of Ajax of 2018/19, helping them reach the Champions League semi-final, where they lost in incredible fashion to Spurs who was inspired by Lucas Moura.
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However, the older stages of van de Beek ‘s United career have attracted unwanted attention.
The 23-year-old has started just two Premier League games for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the same number of starts in the League Cup and three in the Champions League.
Even at this early stage, there are whiskers that could go for van de Beek, with Calciomercato saying Juventus will make a move next summer.
Of course, if things had been different, the Dutch international could have been playing for Tottenham this season.
In August, The Mirror reported that United were ready to win the race for signing despite a last-ditch attempt by Spurs to take him to north London.
Van de Beek himself revealed that Steven Bergwijn texted him to gauge his interest in playing for Tottenham before eventually choosing United.
Given his career at Manchester, it ‘s reasonable to wonder whether he would be better off opting to join Spurs’ Jose Mourinho project.
There is a possibility that van de Beek has allowed himself to think about it, too, during one of his evenings warming up the bench for United.
But before we look at how he could be equipped at Tottenham, let’s once again let his time in England up to this point.
It started promisingly, of course, with van de Beek marking his Premier League debut with a goal, coming off the bench to score in United’s loss to Crystal Palace.
That effective cameo failed to believe Solskjaer, however, as the Norwegians waited until the 90th minute to be included in the 3-2 away win at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Van de Beek then played 90 minutes against the same challenge in the Carabao Cup, but despite assisting Juan Mata in a 3-0 win, he was limited to just over 20 minutes against Spurs as men ran Mourinho riots at Old Trafford.
The Dutch have found more opportunities in Europe. While he was a late substitute for Bruno Fernandes in the win over Paris Saint-Germain, he has started three United League side games since then, making a big impact on Tuesday’s win over Istanbul Basaksehir.
And with Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay both skeptical for Sunday’s trip to Southampton, van de Beek may finally make his first league game.
There are a few reasons for van de Beek’s limited game time this term. Initially, Solskjaer has used 4-2-3-1 more than any other system, but despite his summer’s skill set, the United boss has been struggling to find a place for it.
Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata, in recent weeks, have selected Solskjaer three behind the main striker.
And even though van de Beek can be used in a deeper role, Solskjaer seems to have more faith in the ability of Fred, McTominay and Nemanja Matic to defend the defense.
Second, with United’s inconsistency this season, Solskjaer may feel like he can’t give van de Beek an extended run in the team while they struggle.
That’s why Tottenham could be a far more optimistic experience for the midfielder. While United are still struggling to establish a clear identity under the current system, there have been signs of unexpected progress for Mourinho at Spurs.
After the first half-season up and down under his leadership, the former United boss has shaped the squad in his image, and has produced confident results with Tottenham at the top of the table on inter- goal difference after nine games and on course to advance to the Europa League knockout rounds.
Like Solskjaer, Mourinho plays 4-2-3-1. However, with Moussa Sissoko and summer standout signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg after forming a rock-hard partnership at the bottom of Tottenham’s midfield, it looks like he would have had opportunities for van de Beek in a more successful role. advanced, where it would often shine for Ajax.
Van de Beek also beat the Netherlands in a more exciting position of attack recently, scoring against Italy and Spain over the last two international windows.
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Of course, there is no guarantee that Mourinho would have been involved from the start. While Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty have merged quickly since moving in the summer, Joe Rodon, Gareth Bale, and Carlos Vinicius have had a more gradual integration.
It may be safe to assume that van de Beek would at least have been involved in the Europa League Spurs campaign. In a more advanced position, against smaller opponents, there would be ample opportunity for his Tottenham career to begin swiftly as Vinicius, who has two goals and three assists in four group games, or Lucas, who has managed three goals and an assistant.
It is impossible to say how van de Beek would have succeeded at Spurs, but with the bailiff feeling around the club at the moment, there is a strong chance that he would have made a much stronger impression under Mourinho because of the difficulties encountered him trying to establish himself as a key player at United.