Van de Beek: Koeman’s support was key!

Last summer, Donny van de Beek thought he had his break through season behind him, but head strong coach Erik ten Hag at Ajax felt differently. The Ajax midfielder had only had eleven minutes in the CL qualification games and his face predicted a thunder storm. “This is a tough situation. The coach decides and that is what I have to deal with. I can be all full of bravado and talk about leaving but I simply have to give 100% and we’ll see what happens. But I can’t accept a role as a bench warmer. I’m sorry.”

This summer, it seems Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea, Bayern Munich are just some names of big clubs preparing an offer for the 22 year old.

What Donny didn’t mention was that in that previous summer, his groin had played up and he wasn’t part of the full pre-season program. Ajax played 6 qualification matches and Donny only started in three of them. In the first months in the Eredivisie, a similar pattern. When he did start, Ten Hag took him off before the game ended.

Mr Ajax, icon Sjaak Swart, the former right winger in Cruyff/Michels 1970s Ajax looks back at that time. “Donny has lived with me for a while, ever since his teenage years, simply to limit the long trips every day to his family in Nijkerk. I think I have a good insight in his personality, and I was never in doubt that he’d come good. I know his mentality and he is a fighter. Yes, it was tough, but he never rebelled and kept on working hard. We knew he’d fight his way into the team.”

Despite the stop-and-start beginning of the Ajax season, Ronald Koeman never overlooked Van de Beek. He was always part of the squad and although he didn’t play vs France and Germany in the Nations League games, he did play in the Belgium friendly in Brussels.

The turnaround at Ajax came when Ten Hag went for the Tadic-line up as it’s called in Holland. The version with Tadic as the false #9, allowing a spot for Neres and Van de Beek (but keeping Dolberg and Huntelaar benched).

And that campaign ended far in extra time in the second semi finals in Amsterdam vs Spurs. With an increasingly important role for Van de Beek, with his sense of positioning, his technical ability, his running ability and tactical smarts… The complete midfielder, as also Real Madrid scouts have noticed.

Van de Beek with Ajax legend and manager Sjaak Swart

His stats are impressive: he scored 17 goals and had 13 assists in 57 official games for Ajax. Ronald Koeman: “The success of Ajax is important for the young players and for Oranje. Donny is the prime example, he is knocking on the door. Really loudly.”

Donny van de Beek, in Portugal with Oranje for the Nations League: “I understand why Koeman didn’t use me in the Nations League group games. The team stood! The results were good and the other lads did well. But I am convinced I can make my point and get into the team.”

Van de Beek made big steps, this season. And also thanks to changes in his nutrition and strength training. Sjaak Swart: “In the game against Utrecht, considered one of the toughest ones for Ajax in the last stage of the season, two players stepped up and took Ajax by the hand: Ziyech and Donny van de Beek. You can only do this when you are super fit. You can’t do this when you haven’t been taking care of yourself. He has grown tremendously and he is now one of the leaders on the pitch. He is always available, he makes his dummy runs and is important in the group. He has grown in every aspect of the game.”

Koeman has a luxury issue with his midfield. He has an international star in Wijnaldum, who finally shows his level in Oranje as well as in Liverpool. Frenkie de Jong is another certainty. Since he plays in Oranje, the Dutch play dominant football again with a strong forward thrust. The third spot will have to battled for, by Marten de Roon, Davy Propper and Donny van de Beek (albeit that Donny could also compete with Gini Wijnaldum for his spot).

Since the Reds midfielder is playing more offensively his share in the attacking results has increased significantly. In his last 5 games he was involved in 5 goals (3 scored, 2 assisted). Van de Beek has an opinion as well: “I don’t see myself as the high number 10. I am more a number 8, a box-to-box player but I can play in the controlling mid role as well.” The dynamic right midfielder role seems the ideal role for him in Oranje. And that allows for Wijnaldum and Frenkie to play in their fave role. And with his runs forward, he would be a perfect companion for Memphis in the striker’s role.

His penetration runs… in the Eredivisie he has an average of 6.3 runs into the opponent’s box in 90 minutes. At PSV, Pereiro is the player with the second most runs with 5,8 runs and Guus Til of AZ is #3 with 5.1 runs.

And Van de Beek has many new fans, one of them Jose Mourinho who put Van de Beek in his CL team of the season. There are many new options too, even though he renewed his deal with Ajax only months ago, now it goes till 2022. Borussia Dortmund was the first club to come knocking but they were scared off by the asking price. With Frenkie and De Ligt already leaving and great odds that Ziyech is leaving too, Ajax wants to keep their other strongholders and ask for the top price if interest is shown.

What will he do? Make a mozzah but end up on the bench in Madrid or London? Or will he stay, maybe take the captain’s band and play another season under Ten Hag.

Swart: “Donny needs to be with a club where they play neat and attacking football. He would do well with the likes of Man City, Arsenal. He has that here, its always a question mark how it will go elsewhere. But he is keen to find out where his ceiling is. And he will need to make a step up to find out. But he won’t go to just any club. He will also not decide with his wallet. That is not him. When he leaves Ajax, it will be for a world class club, nothing les.”

Van de Beek himself? “You read stuff and you hear stuff. I am not worried. I’m taking a break now and I’ll see what comes on my path. I am focused on football and I love being at Ajax. My contract is still for another 3 years so I won’t make any comments on my future. I want to win more trophies. And with Ajax and Oranje I can and this is where my focus is.”


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  1. Whats the difference between him and klaassen when he was at Ajax? I dont think he will became a top midfielder. Wijnaldum, Klaassen, Propper.same boat. Wait for Noa Lang when he arrives on the big stages.

          1. He was mostly coming of the bench that season. He became regular after klaaasen left for everton in the 2017-2018 season. . Lang just turned 20 in june and he also likely to be on and off the bench this season.

  2. @Wilson, Have to disagree. They play different styles. Klaassen’s game is all flicks, and touches, and popping up into open spaces…Van De Beek drives the game forward; always makes himself available for the pass in the offensive zone, and providing a link with other offensive players; makes himself an integral part of multiple player moves…to me, the only similarity between him and Klaassen is the color of their hair…now, whether he will succeed at a top club in a top league remains to be seen (I think he will thrive)…

  3. I too think Klaassen and Van de Beek are different. Klaassen is a real box to box player. Lots of lungs and opportunistic play, whereas Van de Beek is the modern complete midfielder. He can set up the attack, he play holding mid, he can run box-to-box and he seems smarter Tactically and physically stronger.

    1. Its not about what he can do, its more about what he cant do. He cant create anything from the middle of the park and like klaassen he also cant keep the ball at his feet for long. He Like he looks more effective when in space around or in the box like in the juventus game.otherwise if you look at the tottenhan and Ajax game, you will no where im coming from.

      Also lets dont forget if it was not for eitings injury he would have been in pecking order. Eiting had surpassed him relegatig to the was only for his injury that his progress was halted

      1. @Wilson, I think you undersell Van de Beek’s skills. But we all see things differently.

        In the limited amount I’ve seen Eiting, I think he could turn out to be a good player, but I don’t think he was ahead of Van de Beek in the pecking order.

        If I’m not mistaken, when Eiting was starting, he wasn’t necessarily preferred to Van de Beek. Van de Beek was competing for time with Tadich, Ziyech and Neres, as Ajax was playing Huntelaar/Dolberg in the central striker position. Eiting was playing in more of holding mf role. Van de Beek got his time when Neres had an indifferent spell, right around the time there was talk of him going to China, and then, after Van de Beek showed so well, Ten Haag went more and more to Tadich in the middle, so all four could play together.

        If I’m wrong about this, let me know. But even if I am wrong, it only means that at the beginning of the season, Ten Haag preferred a team set up with Eiting not Van de Beek. It says nothing about how Van de Beek developed as the season went along, what he was showing in practice, or what he showed in the games when given the opportunity (quite alot). Its speculation to say that if Eiting had stayed healthy Van de Beek would have remained on the bench…otoh, if Eiting really is that effective, we should all be happy!

        1. in some contexts you are right including the part, we see things differently.Ten hag rotated the squad alot to accommodate for the crowded midfield. at one stage he switched frenkie to CB so that eiting could fit in the team as well. this was when schone was injured . it was during his return from injury this that van beek was pushed forward to a more attacking role and was paired up with neres, ziyech and even siem de Jong at one stage.

          Van De beek came through the youth ranks as BTB Midfielder, Nouri – Frenkie – Van De Beek very simply to klaassen. I didnt wanna upload his video but if you want, you can go and check it out when he first jumped on the scene at ajax, his potential at BTB was ever dominant at that time even better to that of van de beek compared to now. some even started comparing him to the “ice man” Dennis Bergkamp as he went on playing upfront in various position including in cant deny this and if YOU dont agree you back and check it out.jan also covered him in some of his blogs. there are other articles on him as Well which I dont feel like digging up.

          The reason why I say they are in the same boat including wijnaldum is because they simply doest have cutting edge of a attacking midfielder to what we seen in the past of Eriksen, Odegaard, Mount and even what we are seeing now in Ziyech.

          my prediction for Van De Beek just like bergwijn, he will fade out if he doesnt get transferred this season and if he stays he at Ajax he will find it going tough with competition coming through.

          1. Once again nonsense at its peak…Van de beek is a brilliant player comparing him to klassen is terrible sin.klassen cannt even dribble past a 10 year old boy..please dont utter shi%%^T..
            i agree with swarts as he need a better footballing team..he could fail in some teams..coz his play is connected to teammates intelligence as well.
            but comparinf with klassen its hell no..

          2. @Wilson, that is fair…I recollect that there was quite a bit of talk about Klaassen’s future, and some people compared him a bit with Bergkamp, but that always seemed to me to be a bit about his look, and the manner in which he would ghost in to score goals as much as more than accomplishment…in retrospect, the comparisons with Bergkamp were the sort of wishful thinking that comes about around young players who flash potential; especially when things aren’t going well for club or country; observers looking for a savior…

            Klaassen and Van de Beek are very different players. Van de Beek played at a very high level this year. Maybe you are right that he will “fade out.” …your view is that he doesn’t provide the necessary cutting edge. My view is that he brought the Ajax attack up to a higher level when he started playing regularly, and that he made the NT attack more dangerous whenever he was inserted. I think he’ll continue to add that to the NT and whatever club he plays for…time will tell.

          3. For record I said they are in the same boat because they both dont have the cutting edge to be a modern day attacking midfielder.

            In context to ajax, both around the same age had dynamic qualities , maybe van der beek is one level up but just like klaassen alot will be revealed when van der beek also goes from a familiar terrotity and tries to adpot to an unfamiliar one.

  4. I’m a big fan of van de Beek, and he brings a lot of energy and attacking spirit. He doesn’t quite fit into any specifically defined role, but his inclusion / addition always seems to improve the team, whether at Ajax or with Oranje.

  5. In reading an article about our women’s team earlier today, I picked up a few interesting stats:

    Six of our 10 goals in this WWC, including three game-winners, have come after Lineth Beerensteyn’s introduction. Is she that influential so that she should start over van de Sanden, or does she just provide a spark and fresh legs when brought on late? I think I would start her at this point and see what she can do from the outset.

    Additionally, defenders Dominique Bloodworth, Stefanie van der Gragt, and footer Anouk Dekker have each scored from set pieces in this tournament, and none of our four goals in the knockout round have come from open play. Considering our defenders are such poor passers but apparently great finishers, maybe we should move our midfielders back to the backline, our front line to the midfield and our back line up top. Then we could build possession out of the back, attack quickly in the midfield and finish more efficiently! Brilliant, I know…

    1. Considering Van de Sanden does nothing but just waste the ball whenever she has it then Berensteyin should start. However my feeling is that the coach saves her for later stages of the game when the opposition is getting tired. Today’s game is 50-50. I am affraid Sweden will turn this game into a really boring affair. A 0-0 is not out of the question but I hope the end result if the final for us.

  6. The Copa America matches of Brazil and Argentina revealed a few interesting things. When playing against Brazil played paraguay ,their strikers were off colour and they were in trouble. yes, all of a sudden they were missing Neymar but. penalties rescued them. Argentina’s strikers showed some finishing and won their quarter finals. Brazil played as a team and Argentina did not. All this shows strikers are necessary but clinical finishing is important, team work is important. preparation for penalties is important.

    1. That Brazil and Argentina match was so intense (not that you would expect otherwise)! Lots of physicality allowed and lots of advantage played.

      I still can’t grasp how Argentina struggles so much with Messi, Aguero and Dybala (although Dybala hardly plays)…

      1. Messi for the most part is a pedestrian, Aguero doesn’t do well for national team, Dybala could have made a difference but wasn’t used enough. Di Maria is a disaster. This guy has fallen so low he can’t even provide a good pass. They will do much better once they get rid of the old guard. And how come Icardi who is best player at Inter doesn’t even get called?!

  7. As a reminder, the Dutch women play in the semi-final today at 3 pm Eastern / 9 pm Amsterdam time.

    Sweden is a tough and experienced team and tall enough to deal with our set piece prowess, but I feel like we have enough attacking talent to overcome them and score in open play.

    It should be a pretty compelling match. A lot of these knock-out round matches, even the ones with the supposedly dominant US team, have been very hard-fought and competitive.

    Let’s go Oranje Leeuwinnen!

    1. 50-50 . If we get half the luck we have got so far we will make it. I fear VAR which is a piece of crap. It was advertised as a method to detect referee obvious mistakes and instead it is measuring centimeters for offsides etc. I hate it.

  8. I think we need to move Groenen back to a true holding mid with Spitse. Spitse does not make herself available for passes from the backline and just stands in a covered position and points to others. The defenders get frustrated / pressured and just bypass the midfield to play over the top.

    If Groenen plays more withdrawn, she can be a second option and maybe facilitate more possession. Then they can invert that midfield triangle and make van de Donk the focal point. Although van de Donk has been really careless with the ball today…

  9. In considering a possible final, Sweden is much more likely to give the US team a real test. Their size, organization and strength can give the US problems, as they have done in the past. In fact, I think Sweden could play poorly and still stay in the game.

    We would have to play the perfect match against the US because their front line strength would be matched up directly against our backline weakness. That said, our midfield is better technically and tactically, and if we are clinical in our finishing we could have a real chance.

    I hope we get to find out on Sunday…

  10. Roord in for Martens?!

    I like Roord and all, but I thought Martens was doing fine. Why remove her at this stage of the match?

    Additionally, Sweden must have 20+ fouls at this point. When do the yellows start coming out for continuous fouling?

  11. We keep trying to play ‘Hollywood’ passes. Lumping the ball forwards when there’s a simple 10yard pass that should be the first option. We need to move the ball short, sharp and quicker,
    . Only go long for the switch…. or if, the winger dead certain to get in behind

  12. See what happens when you move the ball quickly and sharply instead of limping it!

    Keep playing this passing dominate football girls. Come on

  13. Battery died on my laptop but couldn’t step away.

    Wow! The longest 2 minutes of stoppage time ever.

    What a war of attrition that was. No idea why Martens was subbed out. Roord did well but kept giving the ball away. Van de Donk as well. Groenen was HUGE!

    Van de Sanden brought energy and tremendous pace but decision-making was appalling…

    So thankful we are through to the final. But very little time to rest. The US already has an extra day and our girls must be exhausted.

    But we are into the WC final!

    1. We had Annholt and Blind as LB so..i dont think it affected us..Blind was doing well,Annholt was good when called..
      We lost is dumfires and other hatboer.Both lacks the class…
      We should have avoided couple of fatigue players like Babel,may be even Depay,as they looked tired…
      Mitchell dijks is not better than terence kongolo as well..
      Our problem at RB will solved once ke jan hoover and karsdorp takes over..

  14. Wow another WC final – well done girls!
    I’m not too optimistic about their chances against the USA however anything can happen and I will be cheering them on.
    Jan I think they are due an article from you on this blog- just sayin!
    I’m a big of Van De Beek looks like a nice future prospect for NT , much better than Klaassen in my opinion, I hope he goes to Spurs for selfish reasons!

  15. Klaasen is no where close to Van de Beek, I think I have said it more than once here.

    Klaasen same (or little bit better ) as Vincent Janssen was a shame to dutch football in the premier league, and was branded flop of their club.

    We have few ” flops ” branded in the English premier league in recent years, including Luuk De Jong, Vincent Janssen, Klaasen and Depay. Only Depay proved them wrong, but yet still need to convince the English fans.

    One day if we can see Klaasen wearing back an Oranje shirt it means another fall of the Dutch national team.

    By all means, Van De Beek still needs to prove himself in the better leagues. He needs to prove himself if he can get close to Sneijders level .

  16. when I watched van persie , nistelrooy or Robben playing in the premier league, they scored almost every single game.

    Same to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank.

    its sad but today we don’t have anyone even close to these strikers we used to have.

    Justin Kluivers scores 1 goal in 25 games.

    I thought Danjuma was an exceptional, but it seems he needs time to pick back his form.

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