Van de Beek is yet to start a Premier League or Champions League game since his £35m arrival from Ajax during the summer transfer window and was an unused substitute in Saturday’s goalless draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer’s use of Van de Beek was criticised by former Ajax forward and Netherlands manager Marco van Basten earlier this week, while ex-United defender Patrice Evra questioned whether the signing was necessary.
But Solskjaer defended himself ahead of United’s Champions League meeting with RB Leipzig, and reiterated that Van de Beek would have a key part to play in a congested, busy season.
“When Donny has played, he’s played really well. I think it says a lot about our depth of quality in the squad that we don’t have to use him every single game because we have other players as well,” the United manager said.
“I also think it says everything about our ambitions. We want to push on, we want to challenge for trophies this season. Donny is going to play a big, big part this year.
“At the moment, I realise the topic is Donny van de Beek and it’s nice for some players or commentators to have a little go.
“I know you’re short for time when you’re on telly and you have to put your points across very quickly but you have to know that you don’t have to start the first three games to be a very important player in the squad.
“I’d be disappointed if some of my team-mates said that I wasn’t important at Man United but I didn’t start many games, so Donny’s going to be very very important for us, don’t worry about that.”