Manchester United have officially confirmed Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek as their first signing of the summer.
Van de Beek has become the 13th Dutchman to play for United after completing a £40.1million move to the club. He has signed a five-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.
The 23-year-old has risen to prominence over the last two years after his sensational displays in Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in the 2018/19 season, in which he scored or assisted against Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus and Tottenham.
Van de Beek is expected to meet up with new teammates next week following the Netherlands’ Nations League fixtures and will soon be handed his new squad number ahead of the start of the Premier League season.
The No.6 shirt he wore in Amsterdam is already taken by Paul Pogba and the No.34, which Van de Beek is rumoured to take in honour of friend Abdelhak Nouri, is actually currently held by Dean Henderson.
There are still some options open to United’s newest recruit though and here they are…
Following Alexis Sanchez’s permanent departure to Inter, the iconic No.7 is once again free to claim.
It’s expected that the number is being saved for top target Jadon Sancho, but with negotiations with Borussia Dortmund remaining difficult there’s a possibility that the winger won’t arrive this summer.
Should Van de Beek take it in his place then he would get the opportunity to restore the number to its legendary status after its previous five wearers – Sanchez, Memphis Depay, Angel Di Maria, Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen – tarnished its reputation somewhat.
The No.11 has been available since Anthony Martial gave it up to take back his No.9 last summer.
The number is usually worn by left wingers, and was made famous at United by Ryan Giggs after he wore it for over 20 years at Old Trafford, but would also suit a creative player such as Van de Beek.
Other previous occupiers of the number include Andrei Kanchelskis, Mark Hughes, Ray Wilkins and George Best.
Van de Beek has worn plenty of different numbers during his climb through the Ajax and Dutch youth ranks but, unfortunately for him, none of them are available.
The last number in the teens that is currently free is the No.19, which has been open since Marcus Rashford swapped it for the No.10 two years ago.
While the number doesn’t have great prestige in United history, it was worn by fellow Dutchman and Ajax chief Edwin van der Sar when he first arrived in Manchester and taking the number could be a nice tribute to the United great.
No.27, No.28 and No.30
The trio of remaining numbers below the 30s are No.27, No.28 and No.30.
The No.27 has been free since Marouane Fellaini’s departure in 2019 and has been previously worn by Federico Macheda, Mikael Silvestre and, briefly, Gary Neville.
The No.28 hasn’t got much significance behind it either, with Angel Gomes, Morgan Schneiderlin and Anderson its last three wearers, though David Beckham also once wore it.
It’s a similar story with the No.30, last worn by Matteo Darmian, but it was the number that Van de Beek wore for two seasons as he was first bursting his way into the Ajax team and may hold some sentimental value.