Donyell Malen: Let go by Arsenal, now shining for PSV and Holland
Donyell Malen is hitting the headlines with PSV and the Netherlands – and Arsenal are sure to be worried they’re going to regret ever letting him leave the club.
Having scored on his Netherlands debut, the world is starting to take notice of Malen, who has been given the responsibility of leading the line for the Eredivisie title challengers at the age of 20.
We’ve taken a closer look at the young forward to give you everything you need to know about him.
This is yet another young Dutch star to originally come through the famous Ajax academy, joining the club when he was eight years old in 2007.
Over the coming years, it soon became clear that Malen was developing into a talent. But the famous club couldn’t keep hold of him, and he opted to sign his first professional contract with Arsenal in 2015. His compatriot Andries Jonker, Louis Van Gaal’s former assistant, was in charge of the academy at the time.
But while Malen put in some good performances for Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League, scoring a stunning solo effort on his debut, all was not right in north London.
The young striker said that Jonker, who has also long since left the Gunners, gave him jibes about his weight, a lesson in tact he might have learnt from Van Gaal himself.
“I heard him say that I came in too fat,” Malen recalled. “They had been working at Arsenal for two months when I came. Then, of course, you are not immediately at the same level. I was not fit yet, but too fat? No.”
During this period, Malen continued to represent his country at pretty much every level – from the Under-15s to the Under-21s – before deciding to leave the Emirates after just two years.
“That I was sent away from Arsenal is certainly not true,” he said in an interview with De Telegraaf.
“I still had a contract for a year and Arsenal even wanted to extend that.
“I don’t play football for the money. I never did that. Otherwise I would not have left England.”
Malen reportedly turned down both Manchester United and Chelsea to join PSV in 2017, originally continuing his development in their youth team, Jong PSV.
However, he made his senior debut in February 2018 and became a first-team regular the following season, scoring 10 league goals as PSV pushed Ajax all the way in the title race, eventually finishing runners-up by three points.
Now, he’s got goalscoring responsibility as he leads the line for Mark van Bommel’s side as the main man after last season’s top scorer Luuk de Jong left for Sevilla.
And after scoring only one goal in his first four Eredivisie games of the season, he exploded to life in the fifth, scoring all five in a 5-0 win over Vitesse.
He’s also now a senior Netherlands international and couldn’t have marked his debut better, coming off the bench against Germany to put his team 3-2 up in Hamburg with a fine finish.
What he’s said
In an interview in the official Arsenal Matchday Programme back in 2015, Malen described who influenced him and it won’t be good news for Arsenal if he turns out to be half as successful.
“Players I’m similar to? Thierry Henry (some people say!),
“Footballing heroes? Ronaldo (Brazil), 2 Ronaldinho, 3 Thierry Henry,
“Best friends in football? 1 Matthias De Ligt, 2 Justin Kluivert, 3 Ruben Hogenga”