Pacy former Arsenal kid can enjoy a successful second spell in the Premier League after turning on the style at the Euros, writes Alasdair Hooper.
Dutch legend Wesley Sneijder is a big fan of Donyell Malen and for fans watching Euro 2020 it’s not hard to see why.Embed from Getty Images
The 22-year-old has 55 goals to his name in 116 appearances for PSV Eindhoven in his homeland – naturally those numbers are likely to grab anyone’s attention – and the Netherlands’ most capped player, Sneijder, was adamant that the forward will make his mark this summer.
Of course, had things panned out differently, we could be talking about a youngster who might already have starred in the Premier League. That’s because Malen was once on the books of Arsenal having joined them from Ajax back in 2015.
He cited the influence of Arsene Wenger in his decision making, as well as idolising the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. But Malen’s time with the Gunners never really progressed beyond the youth team, where he would frequently play out wide, though he did appear for the senior team in a pre-season tour.
In the end, Malen was sold to PSV in 2017 for a figure somewhere between £200,000 and £750,000 and he hasn’t looked back since. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all.
The forward has just enjoyed the most prolific season of his career – with 27 goals in 45 appearances for his club, and he is still one of the younger members of the Dutch team.
We saw some of what he has to offer as he came in for Wout Weghorst in the 3-0 win over North Macedonia. While the Wolfsburg striker very much operates as a focal point, Malen’s speed and dribbling are some of his most eye-catching traits.
That was evident as he frequently attacked the Macedonian defence, including an electric run that led to him assisting Memphis Depay’s opener. He also played a key part in the Netherlands’ third goal with his flicked ball setting up Depay for his saved shot, which Georginio Wijnaldum eventually slotted away.
So, what could happen in the near future for Malen? Well, in the short term, expect him to have more of a say for this Dutch side although he will come up against tougher opposition than North Macedonia.
But, as often happens when young players impress at a tournament, the transfer rumours are already starting to swirl. Malen has sometimes been compared to Mohamed Salah in his playing style, so it’s perhaps no surprise to see several reports linking the forward with a move to Anfield.
With the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi likely to move on, an attacking recruit may very well be on the cards. He has also been linked with a move to Bundesliga club Wolsfburg and Borussia Dortmund, although they now appear to favour Malen’s PSV clubmate Noni Madueke instead.
Without a doubt Malen is certainly one to watch and, despite a stuttering start in England, he might just end up back on these shores where you would bet on his second spell being far more successful.
Follow Alasdair Hooper on Twitter @adjhooper1992