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‘I fear for Pogba’ – McClaren on Van de Beek challenging for Man Utd’s talisman’s position

Donny van de Beek is about to complete a move to Old Trafford from Ajax and has been tipped to upset the established order within Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad to mount a serious challenge for Paul Pogba’s position at United, according to Steve McClaren, who says the Frenchman could be made to pay for a lack of consistency.

On the verge of sealing a £40 million switch to Old Traffor from Ajax, with the 23-year-old midfielder is reportedly set to commit to a five-year contract with the Red Devils, having emerged as one of the brightest young prospects in Europe over the past few years at Johan Cruyff ArenA. He had also earlier been linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona, but ultimately decided to continue his career with Manchester. 

Bruno Fernandes and Pogba werer primarily responsible for filling the main creative roles in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s line up last season, with Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay serving as defensive midfielders.

The impending arrival of Van de Beek is likely to see the Solskjaer reshuffle his pack, and McClaren fears Pogba could be the man to make way for the Dutchman unless he starts proving that he can deliver the goods on a regular basis.

McClaren has compared Van de Beek’s style of play to Chelsea legend and boss Frank Lampard, while also praising Solskjaer for increasing competition for places heading into a crucial campaign for the club.

“Van de Beek is exactly like Frank Lampard in his heyday; he gets in the box, scores, assists, his goal record of one in three is fantastic. He’s an excellent player,” McClaren told talkSPORT.

“He’s a little bit similar to Fernandes but I think Fernandes has got that pass that, where Van de Beek is in the box Fernandes will pick him out – Manchester United didn’t have that before.

“The only one I probably fear for, and it’s a debate that’s gone for a while, is Paul Pogba. Because you can’t play Van de Beek as your controlling, holding midfield player, he’s got to be an ‘eight’ or a ‘ten’, and at the moment Pogba is the ‘eight’ and Fernandes is the ‘ten’.

“Manchester United hope to have lots of games with the Champions League, etc and Ole knows you need a strong squad, so maybe, maybe he’s getting three of them so two can play in every game.

“But maybe because of Pogba’s inconsistencies and Ole wanting more consistency there, Ole is laying down the gauntlet for Pogba. At the moment no one is challenging Pogba in that position and Van de Beek will challenge him and challenge Fernandes.

“With Pogba, there is a great player in there but you’ve got find a way of getting it out of him in every game and across the whole 90 minutes.

“I do think Pogba has been a far better player since he’s come back. It seems that Fernandes has ignited his passion, he’s got someone he can play with and now Van de Beek is coming in too.

“You need competition at the top level. I think that’s what Van de Beek brings to Manchester.”