Man Utd forgotten man tipped to shine in new-look midfield alongside Frenkie de Jong

ten Hag: No 'risk' to come to Manchester United

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Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor has claimed that the signing of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong could bring out the best in one forgotten Manchester United midfielder. The Red Devils have agreed a fee of £56million plus add-ons for the Dutch midfielder as Erik ten Hag looks to complete his first Old Trafford signing.

De Jong played under ten Hag at Ajax with Donny van de Beek, who spent last season on loan at Everton. At the Toffees Van de Beek made just five Premier League starts, and has made only nine league starts in total since joining United in 2020.

“Van de Beek was not signed to sit on the bench,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider. “He was signed to start. I really would like him to get a good run of games. He’s now got a manager that he knows, a manager that he really likes working under.

“He can have a really good pre-season and will have that connection with De Jong. I’m hoping that he can rediscover that form he had that led to his move to Man United.

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“If he does, then that solves a problem in that Man United midfield. They still need defensive midfielders who can win the ball back, Fred and [Scott] McTominay are not the quality that is needed in a Man United midfield.”

Van de Beek began pre-season training on Monday as United’s only recognised senior midfielder, following the exits of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata while players involved in the international break were allowed extended absences. Despite seeing limited game time at Goodison Park, Everton boss Frank Lampard was very complimentary of his Dutch loanee in February.

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“I’m really impressed,” Lampard said. “On a professional level, since speaking to him and coming and seeing him train and play, absolutely impressed with his fitness, his game sharpness. But when you watch him train it doesn’t surprise you. When I think back to the time he’s had at Manchester United, he’s a top level player. He was when Manchester United signed him, he was at Ajax when I went up against him.

“To have a tough time is not easy, there’s different ways of reacting. I’m sure it was tough, and he shows that if you keep your counsel, keep your head down and keep working in the right way, there’s always a way through it, and people will always respect you for that.”

Van de Beek could be joined at Old Trafford by his former Ajax team-mate De Jong, but whether the two will play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo is another question after the Portuguese legend reportedly has asked to leave the club if a suitable offer came in for him this summer.

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