As Manchester United went to the top of the Premier League by three points on Tuesday thanks to a 1-0 victory over Burnley, there was another setback to Donny van de Beek, who saw his prospects of game time dealt another blow.
Signed in the summer from Ajax, the 23-year-old midfielder has struggled for match time this season, and particularly in recent weeks.
His last Premier League outing was the pre-Christmas victory over Leeds, a 6-2 success in which he tasted the last 20 minutes as a substitute.
The Netherlands star continues to be overlooked by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and looked particularly disgruntled as he sat on the bench at Turf Moor in freezing conditions.
Not only was he unable to see any action, the prospects of him featuring in Sunday’s top-of-the-table crunch match with Liverpool were harmed as Paul Pogba, his chief rival vying for his position in the team, proved decisive.
The Frenchman brilliantly volleyed the only goal of the game as Solskjaer’s men escaped with a somewhat unconvincing success, and there will be those who believe that had Van de Beek been given an opportunity to impress, he may have prised open the hosts’ defence.
Van de Beek’s Man Utd frustration
It was simply the continuation of a difficult start to life at Old Trafford for a player who arrived for a fee of £35 million in the summer.
He has had scant opportunity to being repaying that sum, though.
In the Premier League, for example, Van de Beek has managed only 249 minutes spread over 10 appearances. All but two of these have come as substitutes.
It is a far cry from the positive manner in which he started life in England, coming on against Crystal Palace and scoring a goal in a 3-1 defeat.
Even that display, though, was not enough to earn him the trust of Solskjaer, who gave Van de Beek just a single minute in the 3-2 win over Brighton the following week.
“Donny has played well when he’s got the chance,” Solskjaer insisted last week.
“I’ve got loads of no.10s and loads of centre midfielders with Paul [Pogba], Nemanja [Matic], Scott [McTominay], Fred.
“There are many of them and Van de Beek has played well when he’s got the chance and that is a big thing, that you are ready.”
Pogba’s Tuesday winner knock him further down the pecking order and further away from that chance to prove himself.
It is proving to be a frustrating season for the Dutchman – and it is threatening to be a frustrating move.