Donyell Malen: The ex-Arsenal man who can’t stop scoring
One of the biggest things hanging over Arsenal heading into this summer is the future of their talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international only has a year left to run on his deal and it’s seeming more and more likely that he’ll be leaving the Emirates in a cut price deal. A huge blow to Mikel Arteta and the fanbase. So, just imagine how much it hurts to see Donyell Malen linked as a potential £48m replacement. Is he a good player? Absolutely but they shouldn’t be splashing out on him. Here we explain why that is as we look to answer the question ‘Who is Donyell Malen?’.
Malen’s journey to senior football
Dutch international Malen was snapped up by the prestigious Ajax academy when he was aged just eight years old. By 2014, he was scoring goals for the Netherlands under 15 and 16 sides and that attracted attention from Arsenal. A deal was done and Malen relocated to North London where he was part of their development set up. The goals were flowing at youth level with Malen notching 11 in 21 under 18 games. The step up to the under 23’s didn’t faze him either with seven goals and two assists in 24 matches enough to get Arsenal fans speculating over his potential. Needless to say, many were left gobsmacked when he was sold to PSV for less than £500k after just two years in England. Why a loan wasn’t considered in anyone’s guess and it could prove a costly error.
Despite the outlay, Malen was still kept out of the senior picture at PSV to begin with. An involvement in 14 goals from just 1,500 minutes of action in the reserves soon saw him promoted to the first team squad. That transition started with several games on the bench but by the time the 2017/18 season drew to a close the then 19 year old made his breakthrough, albeit in the shape of four substitute appearances.
Knowing where the goal is
The next season saw Malen feature regularly with just three games across all competitions passing without the youngster kicking a ball. He was predominantly used as an impact player from the bench but that’s hardly a surprise with the trio of Hirving Lozano, Steven Bergwijn and Luuk de Jong ahead of him. He sure made the most of every minute on the grass though scoring 10 and laying on a further five league goals in just 962 minutes. That’s a goal involvement every 64 minutes. Last summer saw PSV lose two of that aforementioned triple threat with Lozano and de Jong joining Napoli and Sevilla respectively. It proved the perfect opportunity for Malen. His game time increased with the maturing youngster now seen as a starter and the goals are still flowing.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Malen had made 25 appearances netting 17 goals and creating a further nine. He’s capable at a higher level than the Eredivisie too if that’s what you’re wondering with six of his goals coming in European competitions split between Champions League and Europa League qualifiers and three goals in four Europa League group matches. Remarkably, having been involved in 42 goals for PSV, he’s yet to be on the losing side when he’s either scored or assisted.
What does the future hold?
To truly understand where Malen, whose agent is Mino Raiola, might end up its perhaps worth looking at his style of play. Firstly, with his goal return it would be easy to assume that he’s an out and out striker. He can be that but he has a versatility to play anywhere across the front three with a fair amount of his time actually being spent on the right hand side. There are few in Holland that can match him in a foot race but he’s got a bit between the ears too and regularly creates chances for himself – and his team – through clever off the ball movements. On top of that, despite standing at 5’10 he’s got enough about him to win headers and hold play up.
With that glowing report over, it’s fair to say that he’ll quickly outgrow PSV. That time might be here already with Arsenal and Barcelona both keeping a close eye. If either of those teams make a move his current price of £2.52 will rise exponentially.
So, will you be adding Donyell Malen to your portfolio?