Manchester United have announced the transfer of Netherlands international Donny van de Beek from Ajax for an initial £34m, plus £4m of potential add-ons, in a significant coup for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he looks to bolster his squad ahead of the new season.
Van de Beek passed a medical and signed a five-year contract with an option to extend for a further year while away with the Dutch squad on international duty, and will travel to the UK to link up with his new teammates after Netherlands’ Nations League game against Italy on 7 September.
“I cannot begin to explain how incredible an opportunity it is to join a club with such an amazing history,” Van de Beek said. “I would like to thank everyone at Ajax, I grew up there and I will always have a special bond with the club. I am now ready to take the next step in my career and perform at the highest level and there is no higher standard than Manchester United.
“Everyone has told me how amazing the Old Trafford atmosphere is and I am looking forward to experiencing that, once it is safe for the fans to return. This team has some of the best midfielders in the world and I know that I can learn from them and also bring my own strengths to the group. Having spoken to the manager about his vision for this team, the direction that the club is going in is hugely exciting and I cannot wait to be a part of that.”
The 23-year-old becomes Solskjaer’s first recruit of the summer and will bring added quality and depth to United’s attacking unit after a season finale which relied heavily on the exploits of their front five – Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood – with little in reserve.
Van de Beek has shone in an attacking midfield role for Ajax, usually as a No8 or No10, and has built a reputation for intelligent movement off the ball and close control in and around the box. He has also proved adept at playing in a deeper role in front of his defence, and will offer Solskjaer a variety of options.
“Donny has all of the technical attributes needed to perform in this team and has the personality required to succeed at Manchester United,” said Solskajer. “His ability to see space, time his movements and read the game will really complement the qualities that we have in midfield and his arrival really strengthens the depth of talent we have in that position.
“Donny’s performances in the Eredivisie and in Europe have been excellent over the last few years and we are all looking forward to working with him.”
United remain interested in completing a deal for Jadon Sancho this summer, despite hitting the stumbling block of Borussia Dortmund’s £120m valuation, but will now turn their attentions to improving the team’s defence.
At least two centre-backs from Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are expected to depart, with RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamaneco thought to be the club’s top target as a new partner for captain Harry Maguire.