Although the Dutch are not going to be at the European championships this summer, there is still a lot of very talented players coming through and several of them will be targets for European clubs this window. The three big names that I expect to be attracting interest are Anwar El Ghazi, Jetro Willems and Tonny Vilhena. In this article, I’ll be concentrating on Vilhena, who could leave this window, due to his contract wrangle with Feyenoord at the moment. He looks set to leave the club with Giovanni van Bronckhurst admitting that much recently writes Jake Jackman.
The types of clubs that have been linked with Tonny Vilhena aren’t the biggest, despite his undoubted potential. Sunderland, AFC Bournemouth and Southampton have been credited with an interest in the attacking midfielder, but none of these sides are in the greatest health at the moment, which might lead to Vilhena leaving it until the summer to move. Ronald Koeman has spoken out about his interest in the player he managed for a period at Feyenoord and that could be the best fit for him, as it’s unlikely that either Eddie Howe or Sam Allardyce know the midfielder’s game as well as Koeman does. Although the English media believe that Sunderland are the favourites to sign him, Allardyce’s treatment of Jeremain Lens could leave Vilhena with doubts about moving to the North East, especially considering the club’s perilous league position.
Vilhena has hardly had a great contribution to Feyenoord’s season to date, only starting in three Eredivisie matches, but he did manage to score in the club’s last two fixtures before the winter break. The midfielder has two goals and two assists this season, with a goal involvement every 107.8 minutes, which is a very good return and begs the question why he hasn’t been used more. He is best served as a number ten, which is a possible that Feyenoord haven’t always used this season and this may be part of his reason for leaving.
The Feyenoord midfielder is attacking minded, which is why he has struggled to break into the side this season as he can be lazy defensively when used as part of a midfield three. His best position is as a number ten, with his movement being one of the major strengths to his game. He knows when to stay deep and when to make surging runs into the box. He is also an excellent finisher with both his feet and his head. As expected from a Dutch youth international, Vilhena is very good when passing the football, with the ability to play defence-splitting passes.
In a period of precariousness for Dutch football, Vilhena will have a great belief in his ability to be a big part of the future. There remain doubts about his attitude after he was involved in a bust up with team-mate Miquel Nelom in recent times. Feyenoord may be even keener to do a deal for the midfielder this month as he is obviously looking for a move, and that won’t have a good impact on the overall morale of the squad. Feyenoord have a very good chance of achieving something this season as they are only two points off PSV in second and five off Ajax, after a good first half of the season.
I think Vilhena is a very talented individual, who is struggling to push on, which is why he is trying to move to another club. He has the ability to play in the Premier League and he will take a lot of confidence from the way Gini Wijnaldum has settled into the league. Although he is nowhere near as complete as Wijnaldum, they are similar players and that will be the level Vilhena is trying to hit in the next few years. Southampton would be the best fit for him, if that deal can be salvaged. If he goes to Sunderland as is being rumoured by some media outlets, that move could do more damage than good for his career long term as Allardyce isn’t known for being a fan of players like Vilhena.
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