Erik ten Hag has warned Donny van de Beek their past relationship counts for nothing now they have been reunited at Manchester United.
Ten Hag and van de Beek worked together at Ajax for two-and-a-half years, winning titles, before the midfielder moved to United in 2020 in a £40million deal. Van de Beek has endured a miserable two years at United, making just 50 appearances and scoring just twice for the Red Devils.
The 25-year-old went on loan to Everton for the second half of last season but failed to impress there, scoring just once in 12 appearances. Now back at United and working with ten Hag again, Van de Beek hopes he can finally prove himself there, nail down a regular spot and win back his Holland place in time for the World Cup.
But ten Hag has told Van de Beek that he will have to prove himself to him all over again and convince him he is worthy of a starting place for United.
Asked what it will take for Van de Beek to play regularly for him, ten Hag said: “It’s the same for every player – he has to do it by himself.
“Me as a manager and the coaching staff around him can do everything to set the right conditions so he can perform, but in the end, the player has to do it by himself.
“They have to take responsibility for their performance. Donny has the capability. I have seen it, but he has to prove himself.”
Van de Beek has not started any of United’s three games on tour, proof ten Hag does not see him as part of his strongest side, which means he is unlikely to start the Premier League opener at home to Brighton on August 7.
On working again with ten Hag and what he can bring to United, Van de Beek said: “He’s still the same, he will not change as a manager. I see a lot of the same things as at Ajax, I think he can help the team a lot.
“Of course, it’s important you have a good manager but in the end, the players have to do it, we work hard every day, sometimes twice a day, we’re making steps but we’re not there yet.”
Asked what he felt was his best position, Van de Beek said: “It depends how we play. I can play as a 10, but also as an eight. One of my strengths is to come in the box, make a goal or give an assist, but I like to be on the ball as well, I have to play where the team needs me.
“I think we are making steps as a team, but we’re not there yet. There’s a lot of space for improvement, but I think you could see some different things.
“Even for me, I can do a lot better, I have to take steps as well. There is always space for improvement, I’m always critical of myself, and I can help until the end. You have to be fit to make your runs, the fitness has to be good, it’s still pre-season, and we have some way to go.”