Category Archives: PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Who is Brighton’s new Dutch midfielder – Danny Holla

This past Tuesday night, Brighton and Hove Albion handed a debut to midfielder Danny Holla at Elland Road in a 2-0 win over Leeds United in the English Championship. However, in Brighton not much as known about the tenacious Dutchman, Will Burns is here to tell all…

Danny Holla is only 26, however it feels he has been around Dutch football for a long time after making his debut at FC Groningen aged 18 with six appearances in his first season. With over 100 Eredivisie starts, he will bring a lot of big game experience to Brighton this season in the Championship.

I have primarily been watching Holla over the last two seasons at ADO Den Haag where the battling midfielder has been a leading figure in the side notoriously known for their participation in relegation battles, year after year. Over the last two campaigns, Holla helped Den Haag be safe consecutively making it into 9th position just outside the European playoff places.

Although he is classed as a defensive midfielder, Holla will surprise a few people with his attacking prowess. With a great right-foot from long range he found the net 14 times in 54 appearances in Den Haag and I think in the Championship he could find more. ADO were disappointed when trying to secure Holla to a new contract in the summer, however he decided to continue his career elsewhere.

The hard-working 26-year old has a great knack in gaining the interception and controlling the play. When he has the ball, he is very comfortable and with a strong upper body, he can shrug off the majority of challenges. His stocky physique is ideal for the English game, as he loves to stick his boot and succeed in the tackle. He will protect the defence as well arriving late on the edge of the area, to combine with the attacks to provide goals or assists. The forwards at Brighton will love being able to link up with Holla with his varied range of passing capability.

After his successful debut on Tuesday night, Holla spoke to Brighton’s official website Seagulls.co.uk: “It was good to get out on the pitch again. I haven’t played a game for three months and I’m a little bit tired now, but it’s a great feeling to get the three points.

“Everything has happened really quickly. On Saturday I went to the hotel with the team, before training on Sunday and Monday and then helping the team to victory on Tuesday. In the first-half, especially in the first 30 minutes, I was pleased with how I played and felt I showed a good range of passing.

“I still have to play a few games to get back to full fitness, so it was good to be involved last night. I hope I can play on Saturday and if I play in the next two or three games, then I will be fit. I hope I can play a lot of games. With this team we want to play good football from back-to-front. I want to help the team play good football, win games and score a lot of goals.” 

I can see Holla fitting in very well at Brighton and possibly help the Seagulls fly up the league.

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TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Spotlight on former Feyenoord, Celtic and Nottingham Forest striker Pierre van Hooijdonk

Petrus Ferdinandus Johannes Pierre van Hooijdonk or Aziz Pierre, as he is known to Turkish football fans, is yet another Dutch player who has made a huge impact wherever he has played.  Not only was he a prolific striker, especially dangerous at free-kicks, but at a height of 6-foot 4-inches not easy to man mark or compete with in the air writes Andries Oosterveen.

Van Hooijdonk was born in 1969 in Holland in the small town of Welberg, which is located near to Steenbergen.  As a youngster, he was a big fan of NAC Breda but began his life as a footballer by playing for the youth team of SC Welberg.  Eventually after attending an open day at NAC, he was spotted by the club scouts and signed for them where he would play as a right-sided midfielder.  Three years later at the age of 14, he was released and played amateur football as a striker for five years, two of which were in the actual first team.

In 1989, RBC Roosendaal were having financial problems and highly reliant on youth players.  It was here that Van Hooidjonk got his first chance initially with appearances off the bench, where he would score goals.  As confidence grew in him and RBC´s main striker was suffering with injuries, Van Hooijdonk ended up playing two seasons there between 1989 and 1991, and would go on to play a total of 69 games and scoring 33 times.  His boyhood team NAC Breda, eventually took notice and in 1991 he signed up without a second thought for NAC Breda, for an astonishing price of four Dutch Guilders.

At Breda, Van Hooijdonk would play there between 1991 and 1995 for 115 games and score 81 goals.  He had extra determination to show them what he could do and had not forgotten being told he was not good enough years before whilst playing in their youth teams.  He helped the team gain promotion to the Eredivisie and set a goal scoring record of 11 consecutive games whilst also receiving his first international call up.  All this was to be rewarded with a transfer to Scottish footballing giants Glasgow Celtic in 1995.

At Celtic, Van Hooijdonk´s incredible goal scoring would continue.  In Britain, he was not well known but by the end of his time at Celtic it would be far from that.  He played for Celtic between 1995 and 1997, making 84 appearances and scoring 52 goals.  Not a bad way to introduce yourself to Britain.  Sadly towards the end of his time there he did not have a good relationship with Celtic owner Fergus McCann and a transfer to the English club Nottingham Forest quickly followed in 1997.

Despite Nottingham Forest battling against relegation his two year spell there between 1997 and 1999 led to him making 71 appearances and scoring 36 goals.  Despite this, he was not able to stop the club from being relegated and his decision to go on strike after certain promises were broken to him in regards to investment in the team did not go down well with fellow players, fans, the media and the club’s owners.  After finally being allowed to leave he decided to return to Holland.

Between 1999 and 2001, Van Hooijdonk played for one season at Vitesse Arnhem and one season in Portugal at Benfica.  Both periods were successful for him and allowed him to shake off the bad reputation he had achieved whilst at Nottingham Forest.  At Vitesse, he played a total of 29 games scoring 25 and at Benfica playing 30 games and netting 19 times.  As with Forest, internal problems within the administration at Benfica forced him into having to move.  So in 2001 Van Hooijdonk signed for Dutch giants Feyenoord and brought with him, his trademark free-kicks and superb goal to game ratio.  Between 2001 and 2003, he scored 52 goals in 61 games.  One of the most memorable games in which he had a great influence on with his free-kicks was the 2002 UEFA Cup Final which was held in Rotterdam against Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.  He scored two special goals in the final which would go down in Feyenoord folklore.  However as still is the story today, Feyenoord´s financial position was not nice reading and they were forced to sell him to Fenerbahce in Turkey.

Until then Van Hooijdonk did not stay at any one club for long but at Fenerbache he was able to win his only two league titles and his figures of 32 goals in 52 games between 2003 and 2005 earned him the nickname of Saint Pierre or Aziz Pierre with the Fenerbahce faithful.  He was now slowly coming to the end of his career and in 2005 returned for the final time to Holland where he had two short spells with NAC Breda, scoring 5 goals in 17 games before leaving in 2006 and finishing his career at Feyenoord where he played until 2007,  37 games and scoring 8 goals.

Internationally he made 46 appearances for Holland and scored 14 goals.  Wherever he went he made an impact and clearly is one of the best strikers Holland has ever produced.  Besides commentary work it is good to see that he is not lost from the game and is strongly involved with coaching youngsters at Feyenoord’s Varkenwood Academy in Rotterdam.

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Who is PEC Zwolle’s Tomas Necid?

PEC Zwolle’s on-loan Czech attacker Tomáš Necid announced his arrival this past Saturday creating the winning goal in a 2-1 win over FC Dordrecht in the last kick of the game. Will Burns spoke to two Czech football experts to get the lowdown on the Blauwvingers new addition.

Tomas Necid - image copyright Henry Dijkman of PECZwolle.nl
Tomas Necid – image copyright Henry Dijkman of PECZwolle.nl

On Saturday evening, PEC Zwolle were down to ten-man and Eredivisie new boys FC Dordrecht had equalised with ten minutes to go. The 3,800 fans inside the GN Bouw Stadion were urging the home side on and Zwolle were against the ropes. Necid emerged with his strapping 6ft 3 inch figure as goalkeeper Diederik Boer launched a long punt forward. The big Czech shrugged off any challenge as he collected the loose ball and ran into the box. A powerhouse of a man, he surged into the area and with great awareness, checked back for Mustafa Saymak just arriving on the edge of the box. Saymak recieved the inch perfect pass and blasted home the winner. The 150 Zwolle travelling fans in the south-east corner of the stadium exploded. Saymak took the plaudits, however Necid earned instant respect and created a buzz for the local press.

CHRIS BOOTHROYD OF CZEFOOTBALL.COM

Total Dutch Football searched for some expert insight on the player and firstly we asked Czech football expert Chris Boothroyd of the excellent CZEFootball.com website for his opinion…

For Necid, he really will be hoping that it’s third time lucky. Once seen as one of the brightest prospects in Czech football, this generation’s Jan Koller but more adapt playing on with the ball at his feet, the 6ft 3 striker is now in the last chance saloon as injury and poor form has blighted his career in recent years.

Signed by CSKA Moscow in 2009 after a breakout calendar year in his native Czech Republic, Necid quickly settled into his new Russian surroundings and became a consistent presence at the tip of CSKA’s attack and an international regular. To use the cliché, the world was at his feet: still young and with a raw talent that was being refined with every passing season, Necid looked set to become one of the most prolific Czech forwards in history. But in June of 2011 against Terek Grozny, just eight minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute, he ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments.

His return, sadly, did not last too long. Despite making his way back into the fold at CSKA Moscow and receiving a surprise call up to the Czech Republic squad for Euro 2012, his knee flared upon again and yet another extended period out of action beckoned. The best part of eighteen months had been lost, as has his career with the five-time Russian Premier League champions.

Since making his second comeback he has been forced into a nomadic lifestyle in order to secure first-team football, but his two temporary stints so far have offered little to suggest that he will be able to recapture the form and scoring touch that saw him move for a reported £4m some five years ago now. A short stint with PAOK was followed by another six-month loan, this time to boyhood club Slavia Prague where it was hoped that he would be able to bully opposing defence just as he had done years earlier when he helped the Vrsovice club to their second successive Czech league title. Sadly, with Slavia in turmoil Necid failed to offer much, if anything, and recorded just three goals in fifteen appearances in what was a disappointing spell back in his homeland.

With his contract with CSKA supposedly running out next summer, his third loan spell is likely to determine his long term future. It’s unlikely that he’ll remain in Moscow, but after two poor spells in Thessalonki and Prague he really needs to perform well with Zwolle if he is to salvage his career, especially on the international front. Strong and capable in the air, Necid should work well if he’s supported by those around him.

KAREL HARING OF ISPORT.CZ

In addition, we asked Czech football journalist Karel Haring of ISport.cz and here’s his thoughts…

Necid is not the kind of player who you could call lucky, if he would have been lucky, he would probably lead the attack of CSKA Moscow now or another one of Europe’s top sides.

He was only 19, when he shone in Slavia Prague, the club where he had grew up. During 16 league matches in the 2008/2009 season, he scored 11 goals and Necid confirmed the reputation he had.

He is natural goalscorer with good position in penalty area, strong in the air, confident and tough even though he faced much more experienced defenders. That is why CSKA Moscow paid almost €5 million for him. Having scored 16 goals in first two seasons, his importance in the Russian side was growing bigger but in June 2011 he suffered a serious knee injury which ruled him out for nine months. This was not the end of his nightmare, as after EURO 2012, he underwent another surgery and did not return until May 2013.

Last spring, he spent a spell on loan at Slavia and he only manage to score three times but it was not only his fault. Slavia went through very tough period and were almost relegated.

Necid is 25 now and Zwolle have signed on loan a really good striker who has a big motivation to rise again. As for the following matches against Sparta, the Czech international forward will have special motivation as Sparta are eternal rival of his beloved Slavia. If he helps to eliminate them, it would be a sweet start of his another attempt for real comeback.

CONCLUSION

It looks like Zwolle could have themselves a profilic striker if he can find form and stay fit. Many strikers have appeared in the Eredivisie to revitalise their careers (Graziano Pelle for one) and Tomáš Necid has all the credentials to fire Zwolle to the next level.

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Heerenveen new boy ready to shine in the Eredivisie

Earlier this week, Heerenveen coach Dwight Lodeweges signed the highly-rated Swedish winger Sam Larsson from IFK Göteborg for around €1.4m. Will Burns spoke with Swedish journalist Markus Wulcan of Aftonbladet about the 21- year old starlet.

New signing Sam Larsson ready to take Eredivisie by storm – image courtesy of sc-Heerenveen.nl

After selling Bilal Bascikoglu to Feyenoord earlier this month, Lodeweges went out shopping for a new creative force to provide opportunities for new Danish striker Thomas Dalgaard. On Wednesday evening, it was announced that Larsson had swapped the blue and white stripes of Allsvenskan side IFK Göteborg for the blue and white stripes of De Superfriezen.

Swedish writer Wulcan predicts big things for Larsson and expects the young Swede to take to straight the Heerenveen fans hearts. Many pundits in Swedish football are angered by the low amount that Göteborg received for Larsson and think that his value could rise up to €10m within a few seasons.

Larsson began his career at the small club of IK Zenith before joining Swedish giants Göteborg in 2010. In this teens, he was also a great floor-ball player and has said that he “could have been one of the three best players in the world.”

Larsson is primarily a right-footed left-winger although Markus thinks he is better utilised behind the striker: “In my opinion, Larsson’s best position is as a second striker, a number ten. He has a very good sense of playing with his excellent technical skills. He likes to dribble and is good one and one. The Heerenveen crowd will love him.”

Wulcan states that Larsson has progressed so much over the last year, but at just 21 there is still improvements to be seen from the new Heerenveen signing: “Sam has been much stronger this year and more consistent. The hard work in the gym did pay off and he used this to his advantage. But of course, he is a young guy and can improve a lot of things. He could be more active over 90 minutes, not just a few good flashes of skill.”

Wulcan continued to say, although he was possibly the most skilful player in the Swedish top flight last term, he could improve in front of goal: “He could also score more goals and contribute with more assists and become a more determined player and the left foot is not the best.”

Heerenveen is a well known club for nurturing great footballers like Jon Dahl Tomasson, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and more recently Alfred Finnbogason. Marcus suggests that this move for the young Swede could be an excellent move for him: “I think the Eredivisie is a perfect step for Larsson, he is a future Swedish star and will be soon ready for the national team, just give him some time.” 

By the sounds of things, Sam Larsson could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer.

You can follow Markus on Twitter via @MarkusWulcan

VIDEO

Check out some video highlights of the Heerenveen new boy here, prepare to be dazzled…

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The Man City midfielder excelling in the Eredivisie

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This past Saturday night, Will Burns sat watching the SC Cambuur-FC Twente match and he saw a new name on the team sheet – it was ‘Albert Rusnák’.

I remember researching the 20-year-old earlier last month when I heard Manchester City was allowing the player to cross the North Sea and head into Leeuwarden on a season-long deal.

I discovered that Rusnák played youth football in homeland of Slovakia for MFK Košice before signing for the Citizens in 2010, where he joined the club’s academy on Platt Lane. After approximately three years of youth and reserve-team football, he was farmed out to League One in England, down the road in Oldham to gain some experience. Rusnák made his first senior appearance as a substitute on 31 August 2013 against Tranmere Rovers in a league encounter. Obviously impressing, he did not have to wait long for his first professional start, just three days later, in a Football League Trophy win over Shrewsbury Town. However, later in mid-September, Rusnák’s loan was cut short and he was returned to Manchester after he refused to play for Oldham’s reserve team. On his return to the Etihad, the Daily Mail reported that the head of youth development at the club, Patrick Vieira, ordered Rusnák to go back to Oldham and apologise for his actions.

In the January window this year, Rusnák was on his travels again joining Championship side Birmingham City for a month. Manager Lee Clark selected the Slovakian Under-21 international into his starting eleven for the FA Cup defeat to Swansea City. After three starts in the month spell, he returned to City for the remainder the season and played consistently for Man City’s Elite squad.

This past Saturday, Rusnák was named to make his debut in Cambuur’s starting line-up and from the kick-off you could see this boy was special. In the opening moments, on the ball, he was a delight to watch. Tremendously creative, pacy with a quick brain, spotting players movement and quickly laying the ball into their feet.

Then when things were not working out for his side, he tracked back and with great tenacity, won back the possession and laid the pass off. However, he made a statement after just 13 minutes. Cambuur won a free-kick on the edge of the area; Rusnák stepped up and curled it perfectly into the top corner giving Twente keeper Nick Marsman no chance of stopping. His first game for Cambuur and his first ever goal in professional football.

Starting at 40 seconds check out the goal in the video below shot by a Cambuur fan.

After the match, Rusnák was interviewed by NOS Studio Sport (Dutch version of ‘Match of the Day’) regarding the goal, the game and the move to Cambuur: “It’s a perfect start I think, except that maybe we deserved more than a draw but I’m happy with the goal. But if it was a winning goal for three points, it would be better. I’m not a [free-kick] specialist but I hope to be one day. I have been practising all this week and happily, it paid off.”

Rusnák stated he knew very little regarding Cambuur before the move so he did some research: “A week before I first came here, I looked up on the internet and learned about the club and the fans. I read about they are very passionate and that’s what I love about football”

Rusnák also added why he chose the Netherlands to further his career instead of staying in England: “I think the Dutch league is perfect for the young players. They like to play football and Holland develop many young players so I think this is a perfect opportunity for me.”

If the Slovakian continues to play like he did on Saturday night, it will be a happy and productive season for Rusnák and Cambuur. He will gain excellent first-team experience that Karim Rekik achieved last year at PSV, and has now took back to the City of Manchester Stadium to try and win the affections of City boss Manuel Pellegrini.

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Ryan Thomas – PEC Zwolle

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Oceanic football expert Dan Rawley puts the spotlight under PEC Zwolle’s New Zealand international winger Ryan Thomas.

PlayerSpotlight-RyanThomas

In contrast to their neighbours down under, Dutch football is not a common destination for young New Zealanders looking to further their careers in Europe. Some of Australia’s biggest talents of the last two decades, including Brett Emerton, Jason Culina and Luke Wilshire, enjoyed successful spells in the Netherlands, but after defender Ivan Vicelich’s stint at RKC Waalwijk over half a decade ago, you have to go back to 1993 to find a New Zealander in the Dutch top flight, when striker Fred de Jong featured for Fortuna Sittard. The Eredivisie, then, is not a path well trodden by All White hopefuls and even an unusual one.

But PEC Zwolle winger Ryan Thomas’ career trajectory to date has been as unusual as they come. Few if any would have seen the 19-year-old’s emergence from the relative obscurity of New Zealand youth football to European prominence last season after landing a contract with Eredivisie overachievers Zwolle. Twelve months on from the successful trial that led to a one-year deal with the Blauwvingers, Thomas is one of his country’s hottest prospects and what were once pipe dreams of a move one of Europe’s top leagues now seem perfectly possible.

The diminutive midfielder began his career in 2011 under the tutelage of Declan Edge at Waikato FC, also the first club of Leicester City striker Chris Wood and recent Stuttgart recruit Marco Rojas. When Edge was sacked in November 2012, he controversially took Thomas and a raft of the club’s brightest prospects with him to the Olé Academy, a programme which encourages possession-based football modelled on Barcelona’s tiki-taki – a system that suited the slight, 5ft 9in Thomas perfectly.

Though he was highly rated by coaches in New Zealand, Thomas’ trial at Zwolle in 2013 came out of the blue; indeed, the player had to stump up for his flights and hotel in the Netherlands. However, Zwolle was not a completely random choice: Thomas was scouted by the Dutch side’s youth academy director Rini Coolen, a former Adelaide United coach who retained ties to Oceania. Impressed with what he saw, Coolen decided to take on the Te Puke native and were soon richly rewarded for their optimism as their new recruit went from strength to strength.

Though Thomas initially struggled to adapt while living in a hotel during his first few months at the club, the midfielder scored on debut in a cup tie with Wilhelmina 08, and his Man-of-the-Match performance was rewarded with a place in the starting XI against PSV the following week. A placement with a local host family helped him settle off the pitch and Thomas’ reputation rose exponentially as the season progressed, culminating, rather fittingly, with a brace in Zwolle’s shock 5-1 KNVB Cup final thrashing of Ajax in April.

He may be the only New Zealander on the club’s books – indeed, he doesn’t have a single compatriot in the entire Eredivisie – but Thomas appears to have settled well, significantly aided by his friendship with January arrival and Aussie centre-back Trent Sainsbury. A first senior international cap arrived in March against Japan – “one of the best moments of my career”, says Ryan – with a second coming two months later versus South Africa.

Thomas’ rapid rise to prominence in Europe has even caught the man himself by surprise – see his comments below – and another solid campaign this time around could see the starlet propelled to greater heights and pastures new: the midfielder will undoubtedly now be on the radar of bigger clubs across the continent who will pounce if his form continues. A three-year contract extension in March showed Zwolle clearly see him as a valuable asset.

PLAYING STYLE

Predominantly deployed as a centrally operating attacking midfielder while in New Zealand, Thomas is equally comfortable on the wing, where he was been more commonly used at Zwolle. A player who enjoys being on the ball, when playing centrally he often drops deep to pick up possession before motoring forward, exchanging quick passes with team-mates and looking to get a shot away.

In the cup final against Ajax he caused real damage from the left wing, running at defenders with his pace and technical ability, while his fleet-footed dribbling style and diminutive stature allow him to wriggle away from challenges more often than not. His body type means that defensive work is not his natural forte, and in both appearance and playing style he closely resembles another Aussie in the Eredivisie, Utrecht winger Tommy Oar.

Thomas has targeted an improved goals tally this year and will clearly not rest on his laurels: “as an attacking player I want to be scoring more goals and getting more assists,” he said earlier this year. “Other than that there’s always ways to improve your passing, touch and game awareness, but that’ll come as I get older.”

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM

“He’s a sensation,” summarises Coolen, the man who brought him to Zwolle, before suggesting that more youngsters could follow Thomas from New Zealand to the Netherlands: “But that’s also happening by having good contacts – you can give boys opportunities.”

The fresh-faced teenager is seen as a long-term fixture in the All Whites’ national team, as Michael Burgess of the New Zealand Herald affirms. “It is a tricky game predicting the ascent of young footballers from this part of the world but Ryan Thomas looks the real deal…the 19-year-old has made an instant impression.”

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Player Spotlight: Rajiv van la Parra – Wolverhampton Wanderers

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Rajiv van la Parra, a young player who have been booed and cheered in his period at SC Heerenveen. From Feyenoord to SM Caen and back to Holland. The versatile winger has seen it all, and he is just getting started with his career. Now he starts for Wolverhampton Wanderers, but what of kind player is he? Martijn Hilhorst reveals all.

‘Pacey’ is the first quality that comes to mind. He is a typical winger who will use his psychical superiority to defeat his opponent. At the ball he is not (yet) brilliant. A bit turbulent but when he runs past you there is no stopping him. In the last couple of years we produce a lot of this type of players in Holland. Pacey, but not that brilliant in possession. There have been tons of players with his qualities who have failed their career because of this, but he could be something different.

Where most of those players were limited to one side of the pitch Rajiv has no problem playing on both wings. This due the fact that he has a powerful shot and he has the tactical flexibility. Wolves manager Kenny Jackett already said this: “I don’t like my wide men to just stay out there. I want them to come inside and get shots in. Their role is assists and goals”. A task you can give the 23-year old.

He started at Feyenoord and when he was 17-years old he could leave them for Chelsea, Manchester City and so on, but he chose for a career at SM Caen because he wanted to play every week in the Ligue 1. Soon enough it became clear that he wasn’t ready for this and he then mostly played his matched for the second squad in the Championnat de France. From now on a path Van la Parra could choose is the one Marvin Emnes took. From being a player who didn’t stand out that much to being sold for a transfer fee around four million to Middlesbrough. He was a great player for the Championship around that time and now a few years later he is a player at Swansea.

But Rajiv is still a player who is not one with perfect behaviour, he has been disciplined more than once in his career and somewhere in 2013 he drank too much alcohol and still went behind the wheel. But the circumstances in his career are not great as well. In the previous season he was booed several occasions by the Heerenveen fans and he then said:  ‘Before I even touched a ball they started to boo, it is something I have to deal with. But it motivates me even more’.

Van la Parra will prove this season that he is footballer with still a huge potential. With him on the left or right the Wolves have a position that will not require any replacements within the first couple of seasons. And with the right practice and experience Rajiv could make it to the Premier League. There already was a RvP in England and now also a RvlP!

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Kamohelo Mokotjo – FC Twente grab a bargain

After a few weeks of rumours it is a done deal. South-African midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo has left PEC Zwolle for FC Twente. They were not the only team chasing him. PSV and Ajax were more than interested and also some unknown clubs from the Bundesliga and Premier League wanted him but Martijn Hilhorst explains why…

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Kamehelo Mokotjo and Alfred Schreuder – Image courtesy of FCTwente.nl

First of all because he was a bargain. In the previous season, he was one of the best players in the Eredivisie and he only costs €1.5 million. Before signing for PEC Zwolle, he played for Feyenoord, but the coach, then Ronald Koeman, did not see his potential which made him leave for the ‘Blauwvingers’.

Fans of Feyenoord were not happy with this move, because it was clear Mokotjo has something special in him. He is a player who combines his passing accuracy (89%) with a fantastic tackling percentage (91%). With latter percentage, he was the best tackler in the Eredivisie with at least 50 tackles and he also had the highest duel success rate from every midfielder with 64.3% (both via @OptaJohan).  Another statistic which speaks for him is that rarely makes fouls, because he is secure and patient with his tackling. That is why he only received one yellow card in the whole of last season as a defensive midfielder.

As you know the last few months have been undoubtedly the best in the history of PEC Zwolle with a staggering 5-1 win in the KNVB Beker final win versus Ajax and a few days back the victory in the Johan Cruijff Schaal with 1-0 also against the Amsterdammers. A few players at Zwolle are partially the reason for this success, but most of the job was done by this brilliant all-round midfielder. Because of this, it is weird that he that costs FC Twente the pitiful sum of €1.5 million and that clubs in per example, the Premier League have not been paying attention.

He now left them for Twente where he signed a 4-year deal and he will wear jersey number 22. Twente is in the feared category 1 financial-wise, which means that the financial situation is far from perfect. When you are in that category the KNVB have to approve every transfer you want to make.  Therefore, because of the €15 million they just earned from Quincy Promes’ transfer to Spartak Moscow they immediately could sign him up. He will most likely start this weekend versus Cambuur because of the departure of Quincy ‘The Promise’, Dušan Tadić and Felipe Gutierrez is absent due to injury.

Of the €1.5m sum, PEC Zwolle only receives around 900k, because when Mokotjo left Feyenoord they wanted around 40% of a future deal. So financial-wise and tactical-wise, it has been horrible week for Zwolle. Since his most-likely departure they are in talks with his possible replacement in the name of Ryan Koolwijk (ex-NEC), who is also in the interest of Swiss side FC Aarau. He could replace him, but quality wise, it would be an immense step back.

Kamohelo is a great midfielder, who is a great addition when in possession, or when you are chasing the ball. With his technique and ball control, he would not be a stranger in the way FC Twente plays. After this season many (international) clubs will realise what an enormous mistake they have made not to buy him.

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Player Spotlight – Tottenham target Memphis Depay

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Memphis Depay have been compared with Cristiano Ronaldo because of his playing style, but does he have what it takes to become a Premier League revelation if he would make the transfer to Tottenham Hotspur writes Martijn Hilhorst.

As a young kid you could see his potential, but after a combination of negative events in his young life he became a player with some mentality issues. The turnover in his career came in the name of Henk Fraser (current coach of ADO Den Haag). The former defender is known for his disciplined way of coaching his players. Apparently it helped the young Memphis to commit truly to football. His PSV- coach at the time was Fred Rutten (current coach Feyenoord) and he saw a bright future for the winger. In September 2011 he debuted for PSV in a cup match versus VVSB (0-8) where he scored the opening goal and later on the 0-5.

He made his Eredivisie debut on 26 February 2012 in the home match versus Feyenoord (3-2). His first goal came only a few weeks later on the 18th of March in an easy victory over Heerenveen (5-1). He finally played eight matches in which he scored three times. In 2012-13 he officially became a first squad player and he was used quite often for a player his age. In 20 matches he managed to score twice.

His career went sky high before the start of 2013-14 after the departure of left winger Mertens to Napoli. Now a year later we could definitely conclude that Memphis is a player which could make any right-back dizzy. Looking to some of his statistics it makes your head spin. An unbelievable number of shots and dribbles.

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The difference among the number two Kostic is only six, but the success rate from Depay speaks for him. The whole top five are as expected wingers, but Depay is the only inverted winger which makes it harder to complete a dribble.

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There is a negative side to his playing style, the first and most obvious conclusion is that Depay is to trigger-happy which you could clearly see at his ‘SCR’. But decision-making comes with age. And also with practicing and hard working which will not be a problem with his mentality.

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Memphis may have some problems with making the right decision, but that doesn’t mean he is an egocentric footballer if you look to his created chances. Only the absolute brilliant Tadic finished above him. The difference in amount of CC’s with his teammates are immense. After Depay comes Stijn Schaars with fifty and as third comes Jürgen Locadia with 33. Combine those two players and they still have three less then Tottenham Hotspur target Depay.

After an excellent season followed the World Cup in Brazil where he had four appearances and he scored twice and gave one assist. He also became the youngest player for the Netherlands to score on a WC with 20 years, 4 months, 5 days (via @OptaJohan).

After a struggling season with PSV it became clear that Depay, under any circumstances, could perform. He is an exceptional talent which proved that he not only could outshine in the Eredivisie but also on the highest level versus the best opponents possible. It is hard to predict if he is ready for the Premier League, but one thing is clear that with his current form Tottenham won’t be the only club interested in him.

*All stats courtesy of WhoScored and Squawka, via Opta.

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TOTALDUTCHFOOTBALL.COM

MEET FINNBOGASON’S REPLACEMENT – THOMAS DALGAARD

As every transfer window passed, the assumption that Alfred Finnbogason would leave Heerenveen came along with every window and they finally lost him last month. The Icelander packed his bags off to Sociedad in La Liga and new Heerenveen coach Dwight Lodeweges was left to shop for his replacement. The search ended in Denmark and 30-year-old Thomas Dalgaard was brought in from Superligaen side Viborg FF and handed a three-year deal. Martin Krag tells Total Dutch Football what the 6ft 2inch forward is all about…

Dalgaard got his breakthrough at Randers FC in the Danish first division, where he helped the team win promotion to the Superligaen. After six months, he was sold onto the Turkey side Manisaspor, who were in the Süper Lig, but he never got going there, making just 2 appearances. Thus, he had to restart his career and moved back to Denmark and his first club, Skive IK, back in the First division. Here he stayed for three years before transferring to Viborg in the same league where his 27 goals in 31 matches secured the team promotion. In the following season (2013/14) he became Superligaen top scorer but Viborg were still going down. He expected to secure a move away pretty early on but the interest wasn’t really there (possibly because of his age and the Danish market).

During his spell in Randers he got a reputation of not working too hard and his coach called him ‘Lazy Boy’ – a name that has stuck since. It was probably a bit harsh even though he is not the type of striker to do a lot of work outside the box. He’s pretty clinical inside the area, so that should be how to utilize his strengths. His weakness is probably that he’s pretty limited in his game as he is a rather old school striker/box player.

In the 2013/14 season (again the Superligaen top scorer), Viborg played pretty simple and sought to utilize Dalgaard as much as possible by getting the ball in the box often. I don’t know if that’s how Heerenveen plays but that seems like the way to get the most out of him.

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A long season awaits for these five Eredivisie goalkeepers

I expect it to be a busy season for many goalkeepers in the Eredivisie, but no other number ones will feel the pressure quite like the following keepers mentioned in this piece. I can only imagine that the 2014/15 campaign will be remembered for either all the right or wrong reasons for these five men writes Kalkeren Kieran.

JELLE TEN ROUWELAAR (NAC Breda)

It is never easy being a keeper in these times but being captain of the club along with the responsibility of holding the goal really brings it into a different level of pressure. In which NAC Breda’s first choice stopper this season will be once again the 33 year-old Jelle ten Rouwelaar.

Already appearing a remarkable 236 times for the club, Ten Rouwelaar has spent virtually all of his livelihood in the Netherlands, appearing for Austria Wien for one year out of his fifteen-year long career.

At the age of 33, there is no doubt that he will be depending on all of his experience this season to lead the side. His main objective will be to keep them out of any trouble and another season to look forward to in the top flight, however it will not be easy for this Dutch-born star, as the side conceded 54 goals last season finishing with a -11 goal difference. Considering 11 of the 54 were scored in the last ten minutes of the game, means that concentration will be key for the side staying out of trouble during the 2014/15 campaign.

LEONARD NIENHUIS (SC Cambuur)

SC Cambuur will be relying on 24-year-old Nienhuis to keep the goals out this season. Although he is currently recovering from a serious injury sustained from late last season, his return is unknown.  I am sure all the supporters of Cambuur will be hoping that he recovers in time for the first week of the season, as the team face an impressive FC Twente side at home in Leeuwarden.

I am sure if the Cambuur stand any chance of taking something out of the opening weekend they will need Nienhuis to be in tip-top shape. Mainly due to the fact, that the first choice stopper is recovering from injury, Cambuur have three keepers in their squad for this coming season, including Harm Zeinstra and Jurjan Wouda.

After winning the Eerste Divisie with the club in the 2011/12 season, Nienhuis knows what it is like to taste success. However, as everyone knows not all clubs are capable of continued success, and this upcoming campaign. I cannot imagine Cambuur’s expectations are higher than a play-off place into the Europa league qualifying round and this season could be a real battle for the club, to prove that they are worthy of a spot in the Eredivisie for the 2015/16 season.

Last season Cambuur’s opponents scored first 17 times out of a possible 34 matches, although the team only conceded a -10 goal difference, unlike other teams such as FC Utrecht or Go Ahead Eagles.

FILIP KURTO (FC Dordrecht)

Born on Olsztyn, Poland, Kurto could be the first name on the FC Dordrecht team sheet, as the side attempt to avoid the drop zone this season and resist exiting the Eredivisie in their first year back.

The 23-year-old may be remembered for his embarrassing own-goal last year during the 3-3 draw against FC Utrecht while keeping goal for Roda JC. He was released by the club and in July 2014, he signed a contract for the newly promoted FC Dordrecht.

I believe this will be a massive chance for the Pole to prove himself in the Dutch top flight and also to demonstrate to his old side that he should not have been let go so easily. Kurto is no stranger to Eredivisie football after appearing 65 times for Roda JC in the last two campaigns. As a relatively young keeper, I would love to see this number one at Dordrecht having the season of his life. I have high hopes for this club in general this coming season, however they will have to build from the back and no better way to do it than to start off with a keeper that has a safe pair of hands.

JORDY DECKERS (Excelsior)

Deckers will be preparing for a busy season ahead as his club Excelsior Rotterdam in their fight to try to avoid the drop zone like so many other clubs this season.

The 6ft 3 inches goalkeeper has appeared 54 times prior for Excelsior. He was a large part of the Rotterdam side’s promotion success last year as Deckers went on to play 38 Eerste Divisie matches and appeared in the four play-off matches.

The Dutchman will be out to do his best this upcoming season and there is no doubt, that the pressure will be on. Hopefully he can return from his summer break with a smoking hot pair of gloves to keep this club in the league. Success could be discovered by the club by competing in the KNVB Beker and doing respectablely well. This would be a great positive for the club, which I believe can only go into this season with realistic views and not get too eager.

All eyes in the Woudestein will be on Deckers this coming season, as his inexperienced defence will come under immense strain from the attacking forces of several of the top sides.

KOSTAS LAMPROU (Willem II)

Beginning his loan spell at Willem II for this campaign, Lamprou will be hoping he can show his parent club Feyenoord that he is worthy of a place in their starting eleven.

Born in Athens, Lamprou could be in the spotlight every weekend as his side attempt to fight for their lives in the Eredivisie. In 2012, he received the call from Greece national side, due to his consistency. However, his lack of height has continued to hinder his goalkeeping career, as he has received criticism from past stars of the game for only being 5ft 10. Which is a tad small for a regular keeper of this day and age, but this should not be too much of a factor for Lamprou this season.

Either way, the Greek keeper will have his work cut out for him this season and keeping a well mannered defence will be his main priority.

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Fulham & West Brom impressed by Jason Davidson but where he is?

Jason Davidson, the young Heracles defender, was one of the standout performers in Australia’s recent World Cup campaign but rather than using this as great exposure, Davidson appears to have gone AWOL.

Davidson is caught up in a contract dispute with Heracles, wherein the player was under the impression his contract had expired and he was free to leave. The club, on the other hand, claim that he had a 1-year extension option, which was their right to trigger, and as such he is contracted to the Almelo based club for the 2014/5 season.  The problem with all of this is that no one knows where Davidson is at the moment!

Davidson, who himself fancies opportunities in Germany or England, is believed to have gone to England after the World Cup to trial with both Fulham and West Bromwich Albion.  Both clubs are said to have been impressed with the left sided defender and were prepared to offer him a contract, until Heracles jumped and claimed he was still their player and a transfer fee would need to be negotiated. Davidson appears to have gone underground to try and resolve this issue and it is believed that he definitely does not want to play for Heracles any more.

His departure would be a blow for Heracles, after his breakout season last campaign, with his pace and technical ability proving a great asset on the left side of their defence.  On the strength of his strong season with Heracles, Davidson was drafted into the Australian World Cup to take the troublesome left sided defender role.  He played in all three of Australia’s World Cup matches to follow in the footsteps of his father, Alan, who won 79 caps for the Socceroos.

The 23-year old Davidson was born in Melbourne but travelled the world as a youngster as his Dad’s career flourished.  There was no doubt in Jason’s mind from an early age that he was going to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Whilst other talented youngsters around him were trying their luck with European sides, Davidson went to Japan instead to famed youth academy, Seiritsu Gakuen.  Davidson openly admits that this time was the toughest of his life, being away from his family in a totally different culture and being an outsider but it also taught him resilience and great technical skills that would hold him in good stead.  After turning down offers from back home in Australia, Davidson moved to Portugal with Pacos de Ferreira where he made a handful of appearances.  He also spent some time on load at Sporting Covilha before being picked up by Heracles, where he has played 46 games in the last three campaigns.

A good technical player with the ball at his feet and with excellent physical attributes Davidson was well suited to the Eredivisie but seemingly he has decided that his development would be best served elsewhere.  Whatever the final outcome is in this intriguing tale, one can only hope that Jason makes the most of his skill and current reputation and finds a club that can continue his development as a key component of a youthful Australian side.

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Middlesbrough target latest name linked to Feyenoord

Genk striker Jelle Vossen is latest name linked to Feyenoord to replace Graziano Pelle. The Rotterdam club are in dire need of players after losing Stefan de Vrij from their already depleted squad today.

Feyenoord have virtually monopolised the Eredivisie transfer talk this summer and Vossen seems to the latest in a huge lists of names set to replace Pelle who joined Southampton earlier this month. The Belgian international was left out of the Genk squad for their opening day 3-1 defeat to KV Mechelen and last night he was mentioned by a reliable source of the game on Belgian TV.

On Belgian sports programme Stadion, Dutch analyst Aad de Mos stated: “From my sources, Feyenoord could be in for Vossen. They are looking for a striker to replace Pelle and it would not surprise me if we here news of this on Monday.”

Genk have come out straight away and deny all rumours and stated that the 25-year-old was injured and thus why he was left out last night, however, Feyenoord are not the only club linked to Vossen. All summer long, the Belgian has been rumoured to be moving to English Championship with Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough. Karanka is known to be a big fan of the player although the club may struggle with raising the transfer fee for the player. Genk are waiting for a big bid for Vossen, who has hit the net 57 times in 105 games in the three years preceding last season.

To find out a bit more on Vossen we asked WorldFootballWeekly.com‘s Belgian expert Shane Ireland on his thoughts of the striker.

“Vossen is one of the Pro League’s deadliest attackers, regularly finding himself towards the top of the goalscoring rankings. However, during the 2013/14 season, the striker experienced a mediocre campaign by his standards, yet scored 12 goals at a rate of around one in every three matches.

Previous campaigns have seen Vossen experience truly superb goalscoring form – he was pipped to the Pro League top scorer award in both the 2010/11 and 2011/11 seasons, scoring an impressive 40 goals in 73 matches across the two years. Overall, in eight seasons at Genk, Vossen has scored 85 times in 216 appearances.

Vossen spent the 2009/10 season on loan at Cercle Brugge, ending this spell with six goals in 17 matches and at 25 years of age, the forward still has many years at the top level ahead of him, and will hope to add to his 12 Belgium caps if he seals a move to the Eredivisie.

The former Tongeren youth player has enjoyed a successful career at Genk, winning the Pro League in 2011 alongside the Super Cup in the same year, before adding to the Belgian Cup triumph in 2009 with another domestic cup success in 2013.

Vossen’s playing style is not that of a classic “number nine.” but he can offer a multitude of attacking options however. He can play in the out-and-out striker role, but is comfortable as a secondary forward, backing up another attacker. Vossen can also take up a deep role, allowing another striker more freedom but his statistics don’t lie – he is dangerous wherever he is played across the forward line.”

Whether Vossen ends up in the Eredivisie or the Championship, on his past record he surely can prove to be a hit in either.

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