Donny van de Beek made his first appearance in pre-season last week as Manchester United drew 2-2 with Premier League new boys Brentford — and fans could not help but notice his more muscular frame.
The Dutchman, who was restricted to just four Premier League starts in his maiden campaign at Old Trafford, came on for the final 15 minutes against the London club, donning the captain’s armband for his short stint on the pitch.
The 24-year-old will be hoping to catch the eye of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for what he does on the pitch, but it appears he is drawing attention for his efforts away from the turf, with fans — and teammates — recognising his recent body transformation.
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Van de Beek was forced to withdraw from the Netherlands squad for Euro 2020 after sustaining an injury, and it would appear he has not spent that time on the beach with his feet up, instead working hard at the gym sculpting his figure ahead of the new season.
According to The Athletic, Van de Beek spent the early part of this summer at “an elite specialised training centre in Amsterdam”, following a personalised nutrition plan and undergoing a weight-based training programme to pack on some lean muscle.
His efforts behind the scenes have clearly worked a treat, with the Dutchman looking noticeably bulkier against the Bees, a viewpoint shared by his skipper, Maguire, who commented “Don’t stretch that armband” on a tweet posted by the official Manchester United account of Van de Beek in action.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 29, 2021
Van de Beek responded with various emojis including a bicep flexed, recognising the recent narrative of his transformation. He will now be hoping to push on at Man Utd and live up to the £35m price tag he generated after the club splurged on his signature from Ajax last summer.
Despite the hefty fee, Solskjaer was reluctant to deploy the playmaker on a regular basis, instead affording him just four starts in the league and only 140 minutes in the Europa League, a competition the Norwegian coach prioritised as the club reached the final — with Van de Beek an unused substitute in the defeat to Villarreal.
There will be plenty of competition for places in the forward line, with Solskjaer recently going all out to sign Jadon Sancho, and Jesse Lingard returning from a highly-succesful loan spell at West Ham, but Van de Beek looks like he means business and wants to finally justify that lofty price tag on his head.