Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Donny van de Beek to prove that his £40million move to Manchester United is not a failure.
Van de Beek has made just eight starts since joining from Ajax in September, raising questions over United’s decision to sign him instead of putting the money towards deals for Jadon Sancho or Jack Grealish.
But Solskjaer believes the Dutchman can emulate Fred and Victor Lindelof by overcoming difficult starts at Old Trafford to become established first-team players – even though it may be next season before Van de Beek moves up the pecking order.
‘Donny has played well when he’s had the chance,’ said Solskjaer. ‘I think we are too quick sometimes to jump on, “oh he’s not playing, it’s a failure”.
‘But with Victor and Fred as examples, it takes a little bit of time and now they are massively important players in our squad, in our team, which will be the same with Donny.
‘He has come in and he is in a midfield group there with quality, challenging with Bruno (Fernandes), Juan (Mata) and Jesse (Lingard). I have loads of No 10s, loads of central midfielders with Paul (Pogba), Nemanja (Vidic), Scott (McTominay) and Fred, and Donny has done well when he has come in.
‘He is always ready, he always works hard in training, he’s positive and he will make differences in many games for us this season. He will grow more and more for next year.’
Meanwhile Solskjaer has indicated that Lingard and some of United’s other fringe players could stay at Old Trafford beyond this transfer window to help the club cope with a heavy fixture load.
Lingard has only played twice this season – in the Carabao Cup against Luton and Brighton in September – although he has been an unused substitute in three of the last four games.
It has raised doubts over the 28-year-old’s future at United, even though the club have triggered a 12-month contract extension until 2022.
Phil Jones is also in an uncertain situation at Old Trafford having not played for nearly a year due to a knee injury and Brandon Williams could go out on loan, while United want to offload Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo.
But Solskjaer said: ‘This season is going to be about the squad and rotation and to have the right players playing at the right time.
‘We have seen so many injuries and the schedule has been so hectic, I think we have been quite good at rotating. That has been standing us in a good stead.
‘Say a Jesse, say players who haven’t played as much, now they have got to be ready when they’ve got the opportunity.
‘You see Eric Bailly who has come in and done brilliant. He has had injuries and niggles, but you have to train well. That is the work the coaches are doing on the training pitch and the players are putting in the work as well. When you’ve got a chance you have to be ready to take it.