Former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt has urged his compatriot Donny van de Beek to be patient at Manchester United, claiming that the midfielder’s rise to stardom at Old Trafford could be inevitable. The 23-year-old has struggled to cement his place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s starting side since joining from Dutch giants Ajax during pre-season, making just two Premier League starts since the beginning of the campaign.
Van de Beek established himself as one of the Amsterdam club’s best players since progressing through their academy system, playing a huge role in their remarkable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
However, he has mostly been limited to substitute appearances at United, with talisman Bruno Fernandes having made the attacking midfield position well and truly his own.
The Dutchman has, on occasion, been forced to adapt to a deep-lying role with mixed levels of success, rarely threatening the starting spots of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.
Despite his struggles this season, Kuyt has claimed that Van de Beek will return to his best in good time, suggesting that he will eventually adapt to the stark difference in general quality between the Eredivisie and the Premier League.
The Anfield fan favourite likened the playmaker’s situation to that of former Ajax team-mate Hakim Ziyech, who has failed to set the world alight since his summer move to Chelsea.
“The step from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is an even bigger step [now] than when I was going to the Premier League from the Eredivisie,” Kuyt told Sky Sports.
“We see the same with Ziyech, so we need to give the players a little bit of time.
“But I think Donny has been very unfortunate because there are no better players than Fernandes at the moment in the world. And he’s playing in his position, so that makes it very tough for him.
“I think Donny van de Beek has shown in the Champions League last year how good of a player he is, so his time will come.”
Van de Beek is currently sidelined with a muscle injury and missed United’s 4-0 thrashing of Real Sociedad in their Europa League round of 32 first-leg clash on Thursday.
The setback has arrived at a discouraging time for the player, who would likely have been provided with a real opportunity to impress Solskjaer in the absence of regular starter Pogba, who is also on the treatment table.
Kuyt continued, lamenting Van de Beek’s bad luck but urging him to remain patient in his aim to become a key member of the United side.
“It is disappointing that he’s injured now because Pogba is injured,” added Kuyt. “There is some space in the midfield and I was hoping for him that he’d get a chance to show himself off.
“But you have to keep being patient and, like I said, to make the step from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is a very huge one.”
Solskjaer admitted last month that Van de Beek is growing frustrated with his lack of chances, but echoed Kuyt’s comments in backing him to succeed at United in the long run.
“I wouldn’t say that Donny is happy,” Solskjaer told reporters. “Of course, he wants to play more, but he gets about his job in the right manner.
“We are doing well and have got players who are playing really well in his position.
“He reminds me a lot about myself, when I first came in, that he understands my difficulties and challenges. I was the same with Sir Alex.
“When he left me out I understood and I was happy for the team to win, and Donny is that type of guy. He knows he is important for us, and knows he is going to play many games.”