Netherlands international midfielder Donny van de Beek rose to prominence as an integral part of the exceptional Ajax team that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018/19.
A technically proficient and highly intelligent footballer, van de Beek starred as Ajax delivered a mesmerising display to overwhelm Real Madrid 4-1 at Santiago Bernabeu in the last 16.
He struck a crucial goal in the next round as the Dutch giants won 2-1 at Juventus to seal a spot in the semi-finals, where he enhanced his reputation as a man for the big occasion by scoring in a 1-0 first-leg win at Tottenham Hotspur.
Ajax were beaten 3-2 in a dramatic return match at Johan Cruyff Arena but van de Beek’s elite performances on the grandest stage in European club football saw a host of the continent’s leading teams linked with a move for him.
Van de Beek remained with Ajax for the 2019/20 campaign, however, and helped the side remain on course for a second successive league title before the season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He eventually moved to Manchester United in summer 2020 and scored on his debut in a Premier League clash with Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. Van de Beek went on to make 50 appearances for United before joining Everton on loan in January 2022 for the remainder of the season.
A product of the fabled Ajax youth academy, van de Beek saw his development recognised with the club’s prestigious Talent of the Future award at the end of the 2014/15 season.
Aged 18, he made his senior debut in a 2-1 Europa League victory over Celtic at Parkhead in November 2015.
Van de Beek made 10 Ajax appearances that season before establishing himself as an important First-Team player the following campaign.
He played 32 games across all competitions in 2016/17 as Ajax reached the Europa League final in Stockholm, where they were beaten by Manchester United.
Van de Beek’s slick, imaginative passing and clever movement were supplemented with regular decisive contributions in the final third during the 2017/18 season, when he scored 13 goals and racked up six assists in 39 appearances
Van de Beek – who was a regular for Netherlands age-group teams throughout his formative years – saw his eye-catching displays rewarded with a maiden senior international cap in November 2017, when he played in a 3-0 win over Romania.
He has gone on to make 19 appearances for his country and scored three goals.
Van de Beek took his impressive numbers to even greater heights in Ajax’s stunning 2018/19 campaign.
He directly contributed to 31 goals (scoring 17 times and providing 14 assists) as Ajax combined their run to the Champions League semi-finals with winning a Dutch league title and KNVB Cup double.
Van de Beek continued his fine form in 2019/20 but saw his final season with Ajax prematurely halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the course of his Ajax career, van de Beek made 175 senior appearances, hitting 41 goals and racking up 34 assists.
His exalted status at the club was highlighted upon his departure for United, when hundreds of Ajax fans gathered at Johan Cruyff Arena to wish him farewell.
After 18 months at Old Trafford, van de Beek completed a loan move to Everton on 31 January 2022, becoming new manager Frank Lampard’s first signing for the Blues.