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Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek will challenge Paul Pogba’s spot

Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba

Soon-to-be Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek will challenge for Paul Pogba’s spot at midfield upon joining the club. Manchester United is on the verge of landing Van de Beek for a £40 million ($54 million) sum after agreeing to terms with Ajax, as the Dutch youngster is primed for a five-year contract with the Red Devils.

The 23-year-old had been linked to some of the biggest clubs in LaLiga, like Barcelona and Real Madrid, but the aftermath of the coronavirus ultimately allowed clubs like Manchester United to jump in as the frontrunner.

Steve McClaren, who most recently managed Queens Park Rangers for one season in 2018-19, noted the newcomer is ready to challenge for Pogba’s position as the creator in midfield:

“Van de Beek is exactly like Frank Lampard in his heyday; he gets in the box, scores, assists, his goal record of one in three is fantastic. He’s an excellent player,” McClaren told talkSPORT.

“He’s a little bit similar to Fernandes but I think Fernandes has got that pass that, where Van de Beek is in the box Fernandes will pick him out – Manchester United didn’t have that before.

“The only one I probably fear for, and it’s a debate that’s gone for a while, is Paul Pogba. Because you can’t play Van de Beek as your controlling, holding midfield player, he’s got to be an ‘eight’ or a ‘10’, and at the moment Pogba is the ‘eight’ and Fernandes is the ‘10.’”

Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes occupied the main creative roles for a third-place Manchester United side last season, a formula that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed intent in continuing. Yet Donny van de Beek was not in the Red Devils’ plans until fairly recently, which has changed that perspective altogether.

Pogba has had his moments of brilliance, but also his share of letdowns when called upon. McClaren is seeing this signing as a way to create competition and forcing Paul Pogba to step up his game after being comfortably cemented as part of Solskjaer’s starting XI.

“Manchester United hope to have lots of games with the Champions League, etc. and Ole knows you need a strong squad, so maybe, maybe he’s getting three of them so two can play in every game.

“But maybe because of Pogba’s inconsistencies and Ole wanting more consistency there, Ole is laying down the gauntlet for Pogba. At the moment no one is challenging Pogba in that position and Van de Beek will challenge him and challenge Fernandes.

“With Pogba, there is a great player in there but you’ve got find a way of getting it out of him in every game and across the whole 90 minutes.”

McClaren noted the signing of Bruno Fernandes has helped better his play as of late, but Donny van de Beek’s signing should only make that spark light into a flame.

“I do think Pogba has been a far better player since he’s come back. It seems that Fernandes has ignited his passion, he’s got someone he can play with and now Van de Beek is coming in too.

“You need competition at the top level. I think that’s what Van de Beek brings to Manchester.”