Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the key to Manchester United’s capture of Dutch star Donny van de Beek, according to The Athletic.
The 23-year-old completed his transfer to United late last night, signing a five-year deal worth £120,000 per week, with the option of a further year.
In an ‘inside story’ of how the Red Devils won the race for Van de Beek’s signature, The Athletic’s Adam Crafton revealed this morning that the key figure in the deal was manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
‘Before committing to the transfer, [Van de Beek] insisted upon holding talks with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,’ Crafton explains.
‘Those familiar with the deal say that Van de Beek came off the phone immediately convinced by the Norwegian’s pitch.
‘Van de Beek was excited to hear how Solskjaer would fit him into United’s midfield alongside Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.
‘Solskjaer’s response was said to be authoritative.’
The reporter confirms that although other clubs were also in the race to sign the midfielder, Solskjaer’s intervention had convinced him that his future lay with United.
‘Reports over the weekend indicated serious interest from Tottenham and Barcelona in Van de Beek. Members of Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman’s backroom staff are believed to have a strong relationship with the player.
‘It is true the two clubs were kept abreast but it is also the case that after speaking to Solskjaer, Van de Beek’s representatives made clear that the player’s future would lie at Old Trafford.
‘Throughout the whole process, including Real Madrid, Solskjaer is the only manager outside of Ajax who has spoken to Van de Beek about a transfer.’
Crafton also believes that United’s chief negotiator Matt Judge also performed well on the deal.
The reporter claims that a transfer battle for Van de Beek’s services broke out in the Summer 2019 and United’s head of corporate development impressed at that stage, when ‘a strong relationship developed between Judge and Van de Beek’s representatives.’
Crafton also claims that Judge is (finally) gaining respect in general.
‘One agent says: “Matt is being very clear and very honest in this window. He is communicating clearly and professionally. He is not easy to negotiate with but he is fair.”’
Crafton also claims that former United players Edwin van der Sar, now CEO at Ajax, and Daley Blind also encouraged Van de Beek to move to Old Trafford and former Arsenal star Dennis Bergkamp also advised him to choose the Premier League.
But it was Solskjaer, ultimately, who was the key to the deal.
Crafton’s source was clear. “Every coach can say they want you, but it takes a very special coach to explain exactly why they want you. Ole convinced Donny entirely.”