The Netherlands international represented United’s headline signing in the summer when he arrived from Ajax in a £35.7million transfer, but he has struggled to make an impact.
Indeed, the 23-year-old has made just two Premier League starts and was restricted to a three minute cameo as a late substitute with his side already trailing 2-0 in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat against local rivals Manchester City.
With Bruno Fernandes firmly established as United’s playmaker-in-chief, Van de Beek’s opportunities in his favoured role have been understandably limited, but Berbatov has questioned why he hasn’t been utilised elsewhere.
He told Betfair: ‘I don’t know what is going on with Donny Van de Beek. I said before he signed that I like him as a player, he was great for Ajax and his national team, but now he can’t get a game at United. I don’t watch the training sessions and the little time he does get on the pitch isn’t enough to judge him.
‘He needs a run of games in a row to give him confidence. I can see that his confidence isn’t high at the moment, and that’s normal because when you don’t play you start punishing yourself and ask questions of yourself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is starting to look for the exit and nobody will blame him. Something isn’t working.
‘At the moment Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Fred are all ahead of him, judging by the amount of game time he is getting. Are all these players better than him? I don’t think so, everybody is different and everyone can bring different qualities to a game. That’s why I’m wondering what is going on.
‘I still think he can help the team. The minutes he is getting isn’t enough to build his confidence and integrate him into the team and to get used to the Premier League. Sometimes you can be ahead of other players purely based on your name and reputation, this is how unfair it is in football sometimes.
‘Then depending on what answers he gets, he can evaluate and do what is necessary. He’s only 23, so he’s got lots of football in him and he won’t want to waste any time. It’s an unpleasant situation for the player and hopefully it gets resolved soon.’