He is the forgotten man in Dutch football and hasn’t even been mentioned when people discuss the future of Oranje. Siem de Jong was once thought to be one of the best players coming through in the Eredivisie, but a move to Newcastle United has sent his career backwards significantly. Before the move, he was Ajax captain and he was certainly an option to captain the national side in the future. The move to England was meant to enhance his Oranje hopes and give him the platform to become a big name across Europe. However, his two years at the club have only brought four league starts, while he has featured as a substitute a further 18 times tells Jake Jackman.
Newcastle signed De Jong to play the number ten role, behind Papiss Cisse and provide the creative spark that the club had missed since selling Yohan Cabaye. Many thought he would do well at the club, as he is a great passer of the ball, and has an intelligence in the final third that can’t be trained. The former Ajax man isn’t afraid of the physical side of the game, and should have been able to adapt to the style of the English game. He started well, and had a good start to pre-season before disaster struck.
The Dutchman injured his calf during the pre-season of 2014 and was perhaps rushed back by Alan Pardew, who had planned to build around De Jong. That proved a huge error as he suffered a thigh injury during a match against Crystal Palace. The attacker hasn’t had much luck with injuries and these have prevented him from getting a regular place in the Newcastle first team. Another collapsed lung and a freak eye injury have also kept him out of action. He has certainly had more than his fair share of bad luck during his spell in England.
Last season, there were hopes that De Jong would be able to play a big role for Newcastle under Steve McClaren, a man who knew him well from his time as FC Twente manager. The club opted to sign Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV, and this is when alarm bells started to ring for De Jong. His compatriot wasn’t signed as a back-up considering the fee paid for him and his best position was the number ten role, the same as De Jong. McClaren said often that the two could play in the same side, but that never looked likely. De Jong looked to have broken into the first team starting in the wins against Liverpool and Tottenham. His leadership appeared to help the side in terms of game management, and it isn’t surprising they gave two of their best performances of the season with De Jong on the pitch. However, he quickly resorted to playing a squad role.
His club are going through a resurgence under Rafael Benitez and it is unknown whether De Jong will be a part of his plans this season in the Championship. It isn’t the level that he will want to be playing at, but it would give him the opportunity to increase his confidence and gain a first team place at a club hoping to be back in the Premier League next season. There will be players that benefit from the relegation and emerge as key players in the second tier, who wouldn’t have been as involved if they had remained in the Premier League. De Jong can certainly be one of those, as he has the talent and leadership required to secure a starting berth at Newcastle.
This year is hugely important for De Jong. At the age of 27, he still has time to have a good career and his national team prospects aren’t entirely gone. A link to Fenerbahce is interesting, and could appeal to De Jong, who has already said he isn’t ready to return to Holland, although he isn’t ruling it out. His younger brother, Luuk, also had a disappointing time at Newcastle, but opted to join PSV and rebuild his reputation. Two championships later and an Oranje recall later and his decision appears inspired. He could learn a lot from his younger sibling and the Eredivisie could be the best destination for him. He could yet stay at Newcastle, and there is no doubting his leadership qualities could be an asset. The side lacked it last year and played better when the Dutchman was on the pitch. His future is unclear, but he needs to make the right decision. He has had two years out of the limelight, he can’t afford a third.
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