Manchester United’s £40m man Donny van de Beek to arrive at Old Trafford with huge expectations

Given that his girlfriend is Estelle Bergkamp, the daughter of Arsenal legend Dennis, Donny van de Beek has joked there is sure to be an expectation for any children to excel at football, considering the genes.

For now, though, the expectancy is all on Van de Beek, the 23-year-old soon to be Manchester United’s new £40million midfielder.

He has long since shouldered such pressure. It was, of all people, Bergkamp who identified the potential of the boy who could yet become his son-in-law.

Ajax star Donny Van de Beek will be the Premier League’s next exciting new arrival

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got his man and will be able to utilise Van de Beek at Old Trafford

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That was in 2010 when Van de Beek played for Bergkamp’s under-12s at Ajax’s academy. The former Holland forward saw himself in the blonde-haired hopeful, who would drift between midfield and attack and, like Bergkamp, was not afraid of an audacious finish or blind pass. He even earned the nickname ‘Maradonny’ among his peers.

While Bergkamp’s faith was a source of great pride for the family, for Van de Beek’s father, Andre, it did not compare to the comments of his idol Johan Cruyff, who mentioned to him one day that he was already well aware of his son’s talent.

Both Cruyff and Bergkamp were of sound judgement, not that it should come as a surprise.

From a young age Van de Beek has been mentored by Dutch maestro Dennis Bergkamp

Van de Beek would go on to score 41 times from 175 matches for the Dutch club, emerging as a star during their run to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019.

But he will arrive at Old Trafford with much still to prove, for Ajax attacking midfielders have not always adapted to life in the Premier League – for every star like Christian Eriksen, there is a tale of caution such as Davy Klaasen or Siem de Jong.

Van de Beek’s back story suggests he will not want for mental resilience, for despite his relatively tender years, he has been through much already.

 

Van de Beek was sat on the bench during a pre-season friendly in Austria in 2017 when his best friend Abdelhak ‘Appie’ Nouri collapsed on the field.

Born two weeks apart and together in Ajax’s academy for the best part of a decade, the pair had realised their dream of playing alongside one another in the first team.

The footage from that day in Austria is chilling, Van de Beek clutching a bottle of water as he stands among his team-mates on the touchline, watching – speechless – as a medical tent is assembled around his stricken friend.

Appie, then aged 20, had suffered cardiac arrest. He was left with permanent brain damage. Only in March of this year did his family confirm that he was now being cared for at home having woken from his coma.

Van de Beek later described himself as ‘broken’ and admits there are periods where he cannot visit Appie, for what follows is weeks of upset and loss of sleep.

Van de Beek seen on stage during Ajax title celebrations, as tributes to Appie Nouri were paid

He is set to take the No 34 shirt at Manchester United in honour of his close friend

The youngster collapsed on the pitch during pre-season in 2017

But communication with Appie’s family is daily and, in tribute, it is likely he will take the No 34 jersey at United, the shirt worn by his friend for Ajax.

It was Appie who had helped Van de Beek when his younger brother, Rody, developed a tumour against his spine and spent months over a period of years in hospital. After one match, Appie revealed a T-shirt with Rody’s picture on it.

Rody made a full recovery and he cried during an interview with Nu Sport earlier this year when describing the bond with his brother.

‘Those moments I saw Donny again after the operation, then you know that he really has always been there for you. He is strong, but it also hurt him,’ he said.

The family, in an interview with Ajax Showtime, revealed there were mornings when letters from both the hospital and Ajax would land on the doormat, one brother fighting for his life, the other chasing his dream.

The boys were raised on a chicken farm in Nijkerkerveen, a rural village of just 1,500 inhabitants 35 miles south of Amsterdam.

Donny would spend more time climbing trees than playing football in his early years and was fond of the family’s birds, one day climbing onto the roof of the aviary to get a closer look, much to the concern of his father.

But Andre was also a coach at Veensche Boys, the village club where Donny played before and beyond signing for Ajax aged 10.

Van de Beek, pictured with girlfriend Estelle Bergkamp in Paris, came from humble beginnings

After training, though, he would swap his boots for a hairnet and help package chicken fillets, since admitting that, without football, he would probably still be on the production line at the family business.

His father said on Monday: ‘This is a dream come true. It’s the perfect moment for him to make this step to such a beautiful club. Many clubs were interested, but Donny took this decision himself. It is a proud village.’

His mother, Gerdina, has previously spoken of her son’s humility. It is said he would never wear his Ajax tracksuit when returning to Veensche as a youngster, for he preferred to remain grounded among his friends. Later, after his Ajax debut, he bought a Mercedes car but always swapped it for the family van when driving around the village.

Even now he spends Saturdays watching Rody play for Veensche Boys senior team – which also includes Appie’s brother, Mo – and opponents have to check twice at the sight of Van de Beek wheeling the kit trolley into the dressing-room.

That modesty is sure to be tested at United, however, especially if he goes on to become the superstar his mentor Bergkamp expects him to be.

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Brandy & Monica draw celeb viewers to Verzuz including Michelle Obama and Mariah Carey

Brandy & Monica’s dual outing on Verzuz Monday drew a cavalcade of famous viewers in the stream, including former First Lady Michelle Obama and Mariah Carey.

The Boy Is Mine singers, who had a real-life rivalry for years, performed in the two-hour special stemming from Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios and airing on Verzuz’s Instagram Live channel, as well as Apple Music and Apple TV.

Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris made a cameo toward the start of the show.

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In demand: Brandy, 41, and Monica, 39, appeared in a dual outing on Verzuz Monday that drew a cavalcade of famous viewers in the stream, including former First Lady Michelle Obama and Mariah Carey

Other notable celebs to appear in the chat stream included Snoop Dogg, Queen Latifah, Solange Knowles, Tiffany Haddish, Keke Palmer, Zayn Malik, Tyler the Creator, Missy Elliott, Ne-Yo and Chloe x Halle.

The stars were the only ones watching, as the battle garnered more than 1.2 million concurrent streams, according to Entertainment Weekly.

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The rivalry between the vocalists dates back to their respective breakouts in the music industry as teens. Brandy’s first big hit was 1994’s I Wanna Be Down, while Monica’s was 1995’s Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days). 

The singers famously collaborated on the massive 1998 hit The Boy Is Mine, which garnered them Grammy Awards. 

On the campaign trail: Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris made a cameo toward the start of the show

On the special, the singers – who last worked together eight years ago on the 2012 song It All Belongs to Me – touched on their on-again, off-again rivalry.

Monica told Brandy, ‘I wanted to speak to you face to face, The more we’re talked about, the more it came to be difficult, unnecessarily.

‘And I really really am a straight shooter and I really do admire what you’ve done musically and what you’ve had to endure personally.’

Fast fame: Brandy’s first big hit was 1994’s I Wanna Be Down, while Monica’s was 1995’s Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)

Storied past: The singers last worked together eight years ago on the 2012 song It All Belongs to Me

Brandy, replied, ‘I have the utmost love and respect for you as well, for somebody to start at 12 years old … the longevity of your career, nobody [knows] what you’ve been through.’

The Verzuz series is from Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. It began amid the March shutdown, has past featured musical showdowns between Alicia Keys and John Legend, Nelly and Ludacris, DMX and Snoop Dogg and 112 and Jagged Edge. 

Keen: Fans pointed out celebrity cameos in the comment thread on the livestream 

Read more:

  • Brandy and Monica address beef in record-breaking Verzuz battle | EW.com
  • #VERZUZ Presents: Brandy vs Monica – YouTube

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Sarah Michelle Gellar keeps it casual in jean jacket and slacks as she runs errands with her kids

She will celebrate her 18th wedding anniversary on Tuesday.

And on Monday, Sarah Michelle Gellar was spotted out and about in Los Angeles, running some errands with her two children.

The actress, 43, shares daughter Charlotte, 10, and son Rocky, seven, with her husband of Freddie Prinze Jr.

Family: Sarah Michelle Gellar was spotted out and about in Los Angeles on Monday, running some errands with her two children – daughter Charlotte, 10, and son Rocky, seven

The doting mom made sure the trio held hands as they crossed a busy intersection during their outing.

And all three covered up with cloth face masks as required under California law due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Buffy The Vampire Slayer star was dressed in a black top tucked into black slacks and added a blue jean jacket.

She stepped out in a pair of white sneakers and wore her blonde hair tied back from her face, and she completed her look with designer sunglasses. 

Hands on mom: Gellar, 43, was dressed in a black top tucked into black slacks along with a blue jean jacket. She stepped out in white sneakers and added designer sunglasses

Ready: Earlier on Monday, the actress showed off her ‘back to school’ preparation, sharing images of how she’s organizing her kids as they start a new school year studying from home

Home school: The Buffy The Vampire Slayer star shared pictures of drawers of school supplies as well as a desk with laptops and her daughter’s fifth grade text books

Earlier on Monday, Gellar showed off her ‘back to school’ preparation, sharing some images of how she’s organizing her kids as they start a new school year continuing to study from home. 

She shared pictures to her Instagram Story of drawers of school supplies as well as a desk with laptops and  her daughter’s fifth grade text books.

Gellar and Prinze Jr., also an actor, first met on the set of the 1997 movie I Know What You Did Last Summer but they didn’t start dating until three years later.

They married in Mexico on September 1, 2002, and welcomed their daughter in 2009 and their son in 2012.

The couple worked together again on screen as Fred and Daphne in the live action version of Scooby-Doo, released in June 2002, and its sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, released in March 2004.

Celebrity couple: Gellar and husband Freddie Prinze Jr. will celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. They’re pictured in October 2002, shortly after their marriage

Read more:

  • Sarah Michelle (@sarahmgellar) • Instagram photos and videos

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