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Ajax’s breakthrough in last season’s Champions League showcased a handful of raw, young and extremely talented players. Among them were Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, who paved their way to Juventus and Barcelona respectively. The third name of the scouting radar is Donny van de Beek.

After a quick spree of signing young players at the beginning of this summer and after letting go of two central midfielders in Ceballos and Llorente, Real Madrid shifted their focus on acquiring a player who would fit in the Zinedine Zidane’s roster for the upcoming season. Let us look at Van de Beek’s overall gameplay using tactics and statistical analysis.


Van de Beek joined Ajax back in the 2008/09 season from Veensche Boys, his father’s former club. Eight years later, former Ajax manager Peter Bosz was impressed by Van de Beek’s pre-season international friendlies for the Dutch international team. The Dutch newspaper Algameen Dagblad wrote that he had successfully filled the void created by the departure of Davy Klaassen, who’d then moved to Everton.

Donny van de Beek Real Madrid Tactical Analysis Statistics
Season summary.

Having missed out only on seven matches throughout the season, it was proved how important Van de Beek is for the Ajax team. Ajax’s journey in last season’s Champions League gave Van de Beek the attention of other clubs. Currently, Van de Beek has officially admitted to Real Madrid’s interest in him.

Style of Play:

Van de Beek’s versatility allows him to play extremely well in two positions: attacking midfielder and the central midfielder. In the last two seasons, Ajax used him as an attacking midfielder who continuously fed vertical balls to the trio of Ziyech, Neres and Tadic. His style of play is extremely similar to Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen, both of whom are Real Madrid targets too.

Donny van de Beek Real Madrid Tactical Analysis Statistics
Van de Beek opening up the centre of the pitch to David Neres against Real Madrid.
Donny van de Beek Real Madrid Tactical Analysis Statistics
Complete breach of the Real Madrid defence.

A noticeable knack Van de Beek possesses is a strong right-outfoot. Van de Beek’s playing position forces him to think quickly and change the tempo of the game whenever required. He’s often marked from an opposition player while awaiting a pass from a team-mate. This technique of the outfoot helps him to change the direction of the ball completely towards the centre of the field, by using the pace of the ball. As soon as that’s done, Van de Beek turns around in the opposite direction and sprints forward expecting a return ball from his team-mate.

Donny van de Beek Real Madrid Tactical Analysis Statistics
Van de Beek, fully aware of the space behind him and expecting an immediate tackle from the opposition.
Donny van de Beek Real Madrid Tactical Analysis Statistics
Van de Beek uses his right-outfoot to change the direction of the pass while he succumbs to the tackle from behind.

Another perceptible flair is that Van de Beek tracks back to support the team defensively too. He possesses the confidence to slide-tackle and procure the ball even anywhere in his own half. He prefers the short-type of passing. This lets him decide the flow, speed and the side of the upcoming attack.


If James Rodriguez is really included in Zidane’s future plan at Real Madrid, then Van de Beek would be a perfect back-up for him. With the new arrivals, Zidane needs to try out every single way to optimise the usage of all the players and their styles. As the saying goes “Too many cooks, spoil the broth”, it’s surely a gamble for the Los Blancos’ boss.

As mentioned earlier, Van de Beek could also be a good replacement for Luka Modrić. If Real Madrid fail to land Pogba or Eriksen, Van de Beek would surely be Zidane’s choice in a lot of important matches.

Artwork by @chapulana

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