Erik ten Hag blames injuries for Donny van de Beek's Man Utd struggle

Erik ten Hag blames injuries for Donny van de Beek's Man Utd struggle

Erik ten Hag has blamed injuries for ruining Donny van de Beek's spell at Manchester United.

Van de Beek, 26, has joined Eintracht Frankfurt on loan until the end of the season, having failed to establish himself under any of three different managers - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ralf Rangnick and Ten Hag - at United since joining from Ajax in the summer of 2020.

The £35million midfielder made only 23 starts during his three and a half years at Old Trafford, and already spent time away on loan when he joined Everton for the second half of the 2021-22 campaign, again being limited by injuries at Goodison Park.

Ten Hag worked with Van de Beek at Ajax but hopes that a reunion in Manchester might revive the midfielder's fortunes proved misplaced.

"He has had many injuries, first of all," Ten Hag said. "From the first moment I came in here at Manchester United, he wasn't the player he was at Ajax because he was injured. So many times he was not available and then he struggled for a long time to recover from that injury.

"That is probably the main reason why he was not playing. We decided for a loan in the summer but it didn't come and then his opportunities are few because also we make appointments and we make agreements with players and contract players in that position. The competition was high."

Van de Beek is among a number of players who have joined United in big-money deals in recent seasons but then struggled to live up to the billing, with £72million winger Jadon Sancho also close to leaving on loan in this transfer window after a public falling out with Ten Hag.

But asked if others might look at Van de Beek's experience and be wary of moving to Old Trafford, Ten Hag disagreed.

"That is always on those players and how much confidence you have in your capabilities," he said. "But I can tell you one thing - the Premier League is tough. Man United, that is tough to play there because it's more easy to play in almost any other team than Man United because the pressure is that high always.

"You have to deal with that. But if you have confidence in yourself, this is the best challenge and this is definitely the best club you want to be at as a player. It depends on player to player, and it depends especially on the character of the player, their personality."

Ten Hag will take his United side to Wigan on Monday night for their FA Cup third-round tie.

Andre Onana will be in the squad and should also be available to face Tottenham next weekend before joining up late with Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations.

But Onana's back-up Altay Bayindir is yet to make his debut after a summer move from Fenerbahce and the trip to the DW Stadium could be an opportunity to give the Turkey goalkeeper a taste of first-team action before he is needed more regularly.

Ten Hag insisted he had confidence in all of his goalkeepers despite the decision not to use Bayindir in the Carabao Cup before Christmas.

"At some point Andre will go," he said. "We are totally happy and we constructed this group of keepers because we are comfortable with this. We have confidence in them both and both are very good goalkeepers, both experienced at the highest levels.

"I think we can have a lot of belief that we have coverage, but not only coverage but competition between two or three. We are sure that if Andre has to go that we are good, we are in a good place and have a good replacement to fill that gap."

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