Tag Archives: Chelsea

Eredivisie Standouts: No. 3 – Mason Mount

It is without a doubt that the Netherlands’ three biggest club sides are AFC Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and reigning Champions Feyenoord, however scratch beneath the surface of the Eredivisie and there continues to be a common theme year after year; a wealth of fantastic young players with raw, untapped potential.

In this new series exclusive to Total Dutch Football, Joe Donnohue looks at one of the ‘Eredivisie Standouts’ who continues to leave his mark on the league outside of the traditional ‘Big Three’ squads.

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Mason Mount – Vitesse Arnhem

Chelsea’s policy of loaning young players the length and breadth of the footballing world is well-known across footballing circles. One such beneficiary, if you will, of this policy is Chelsea’s 19-year-old attacking midfielder Mason Mount.

This season the English teenager has spent the season at Vitesse Arnhem, notorious for being the recipients of many a Chelsea loanee over the past number of years. Not all are a success and some fail to adapt to life across the North Sea but Mount is beginning to look like a real contender for the odd cameo in Chelsea’s first team.

Mount has three goals in his last seven Eredivisie matches, claiming the Man of the Match award in three of his last nine.

The 19-year-old was largely restricted to brief appearances from the Vitesse bench at the beginning of the season managing just 107 league minutes by the time November arrived. However, since then Mount has started all but one of Vitesse’s league games and it has paid dividends for both the team and the player.

Four goals followed which brought his overall tally to six for the season, along with two assists. Mount has not missed a single minute of Eredivisie action since the 19th November 2017, a stretch which has seen Vitesse win five times and draw three in 12 matches, including a dazzling display in the most recent victory over reigning champions Feyenoord.

In terms of direct goal involvement, Mount has been involved in nine Vitesse goals this season, which trumps his four goals and three assists in last season’s Premier League 2 campaign for Chelsea’s U-23 side. This has been achieved in 500 fewer minutes too, highlighting his progression as a footballer over the past year.

The England U-19 international operates in an advanced role, often just behind the striker Tim Matavz.

Having had only one season of U-23 under his belt, it was anticipated that Mount wouldn’t play a starring role in Vitesse’s season, rather it would instead be a growth experience and he would be around the first team but limited to opportunities from the bench.

Mount has shown resolve to fight for a regular berth in Vitesse’s team and maintain it with good performances. Averaging 2.5 Key Passes per 90, it is clear that Mount has natural ability to accurately find a teammate and also vision that not all players possess.

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This is evident when watching the teenager’s performances. He displays a clear poise and comfortability on the ball. At times his passing decisions are questionable but that can be attributed to his confidence at attempting difficult passes when perhaps there is a simpler option available.

A great deal of Mount’s key passes come from set pieces, either from free-kicks or corners. As Vitesse’s designated taker of set pieces Mount clearly has superior technique to many of his senior teammates despite being many years their junior.

Going back to his audacity to attempt more difficult manoeuvres, this is reflected in his dribbling statistics. In the Europa League particularly, Mount likes to open his legs and take on his opponents, averaging close to three successful dribbles per 90. His success rate at this is one of the competition’s highest at 92%.

This data is possibly not as representative as his Eredivisie statistics given the fact that he has played only 367 minutes in Europe this season, as opposed to his 1200 in the league. It is still impressive, nonetheless, especially considering his success rate in the league is still relatively high at 70%.

Mount’s shooting accuracy is very impressive, having scored six league goals from just 13 shots on target. This is notable for a number of reasons, even more so given the fact that he frequently takes free-kicks in shooting territory. His free-kick which looped over the PEC Zwolle goalkeeper at the end of January showed either a stroke of good fortune or exceptional vision and technique.

The Chelsea loanee is a talent, that much is clear. He has struggled to replicate his Eredivisie output in the Europa League, potentially hinting at the fact that he is not ready to play at a higher level at this moment in time. Although, given his progression over the past year and exposure to first team football in a competitive environment, there appears to be a strong correlation.

One thing is clear; once Mount returns to Stamford Bridge his days of regular football in the U-23’s is over. He has demonstrated his ability to play – and shine – at a much higher level.

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Chelsea boy Traore helps Ajax be triumphant





A brace from Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore helped Ajax hit Olympique Lyonnais for four in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final tie at the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday evening to leave the four-time European champions with one foot in the final of a major continental competition for the first time in twenty one years.

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Despite the French side bagging a valuable away goal through a second half strike from Mathieu Valbuena, Ajax’s three-goal cushion sees Peter Bosz’s side head into next Thursday evening’s 2nd leg at the Parc OL very much in the driving seat.

With late strikes from first, Nick Viergever and then Amin Younes in the second half of extra time in Gelsenkirchen having seen Ajax clinch a first semi-final berth in continental competition in two decades, a subsequent loss in Eindhoven at the hands of outgoing back-to-back champions, PSV last time out had seen Bosz’s troops fall four points off the pace of league leaders, Feyenoord – who, with just two games of the domestic season left to play in the Netherlands, now seem certain to clinch their first Eredivisie crown since 1999, Ajax’s focus now centred on reaching the final of a European club competition for the first time since the then defending champions had narrowly lost out to Juventus following an agonising penalty shoot-out in the final of the UEFA Champions League at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico in 1996.

Remarkably, Ajax had managed to clinch a place in the last four of Europe’s second tier club competition despite having been reduced to ten men during the 2nd leg of their quarter final tie in Germany – Joel Veltman having been given his marching orders after the Dutch international had picked up a second yellow card for blocking the run of Algerian international, Nabil Bentaleb mid-way inside the visitor’s half ten minutes from time. As a result, both he and Viergever – who accrued one booking too many in Gelsenkirchen, were forced to watch the 1st leg from the stands with Jairo Riedewald and Kenny Tete drafted in as cover.

Having eventually seen off the challenge of Turkish champions, Besiktas following an epic penalty shoot-out – Lyon’s quarter final tie having ended 3-3 on aggregate after Bruno Genesio’s side had slipped to a 2-1 defeat in the 2nd leg at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, the French side arrived in the Netherlands somewhat understrength with talismanic forward, Alexandre Lacazette only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench.

However, it was the away side who made much of the early running and Genesio’s side went close to taking the lead with just ten minutes on the clock when, having stolen a march on Davinson Sanchez, Maxwel Cornet’s sliding effort from close range was turned behind by a smart save by Andre Onana after Lucas Tousart had picked out the 20–year-old on the edge of the box with a sharp cut-back from the by-line.

Following a sluggish start to proceedings the home side suddenly came to life in the 25th minute and hit the front via the deftest of touches from Bertrand Traore – the Chelsea loanee glancing home a Hakim Ziyech free kick from the right which left Lyon ‘keeper, Anthony Lopes rooted to the spot.

Eleven minutes before the interval the hosts doubled their advantage when, having shown Mouctar Diakhaby a clean pair of heels, Danish starlet, Kasper Dolberg punished a poor clearance by Lopes that had only managed to find the head of Traore – whose vision had initially put the 19-year-old in the clear, by rifling home his twentieth goal in all competitions this term.

The home side could have enjoyed a three-goal advantage at the break but, having unlocked the visiting defence once more via a crisp give-and-go between both he and Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen, Amin Younes was then denied by the reflexes of Lopes with a minute of the half remaining.

Having very nearly been made to pay for failing to put quarter final opponents, Schalke 04 to the sword during a dominant 1st leg display in the previous round, Bosz’s side emerged for the second half with purpose and added a third four minutes after the resumption when an incisive through ball from Ziyech found Younes with time and space to beat both Lopes and the best efforts of Diakhaby – whose clearance from behind the line came a split second too late.

The home side could have put the tie to bed three minutes later but, having dispossessed Nicolas Nkoulou just inside the visitor’s half, Dolberg saw his venomous effort from range repelled by Lopes, who, five minutes later, was again called into action – the Portuguese international this time turning away a Traore drive from the right edge of the area.

With a proverbial mountain to climb, the away side eventually showed signs of life and bagged a valuable away goal when Mathieu Valbuena rifled home from just inside the area after the home side failed to deal with a Christophe Jallet cross from the right in the 66th minute.

Genesio’s side had enjoyed their last encounter with Dutch opposition – having hit AZ Alkmaar for eleven over two legs earlier in the competition and, buoyed by Valbuena’s strike, the away side could have bagged a second just two minutes later but for the quick thinking of Onana who was out smartly to deny Nabil Fekir after substitute, Rachid Ghezzal had put the 23-year-old in the clear with only the Cameroonian to beat.

However, backed by a raucous home crowd which included the man who masterminded the club’s triumph in the competition (under its previous guise as the UEFA Cup) in  1992 before guiding Ajax to UEFA Champions League glory three years later – Louis van Gaal, the home side set themselves on track to emulate the club’s last ‘Golden Generation’ by restoring their three-goal cushion nineteen minutes from time when Ziyech teed up the home side’s star man, Traore for a close range finish with a rifled cross from the left after the Moroccan international’s unchecked run had initially been found by a perfectly weighted chip over the visitor’s back line by Klaassen.

Man of the Match: Bertrand Traore.



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Nathan Ake – Chelsea’s next big thing!


There have been many young stars who have failed to make the cut at Chelsea over the years – Kevin De Bruyne and Daniel Sturridge to name just two – but, and whisper it quietly, that is a pattern that could be about to change with Gullit-lookalike Nathan Aké writes Sam France.

The young defender, 19, has turned down numerous loan offers and has made several first-team appearances, evidencing a will to succeed and to better himself that belies his precocious youth. He signed a new contract with the Blues last summer, so his future is guaranteed until 2018; with new addition Kurt Zouma, he could form part of a fearsome future defensive lineup.

Having started his career with ADO Den Haag, Aké made the step up to Feyenoord as a twelve year old and remained there for much of his development. Varkenoord, the Feyenoord youth academy was voted the best youth set-up in the Netherlands during Aké’s time there, and some of its recent graduates include Robin van Persie and Norwich’s Leroy Fer. He moved on again after four years at the club having broken into the Dutch under-15 and under-16 squads, and has continued to represent his nation at every youth stage up to the Jong Orange (under-21), however he is yet to receive a full international call-up.

Aké’s first Chelsea start came against Championship side Middlesbrough in last year’s FA Cup, and it took some a while to realise that the wild-haired youngster in the centre of midfield was a teenager rather than Brazil’s David Luiz. It was not just a matter of the hair; Aké’s performance was composed and fluent, and although he did not set the world on fire, in his position that is just what you want – he was barely noticed, but passed the ball like a veteran and constantly broke up the attacks of a pacey, highly-motivated young team at a packed Riverside Stadium. He was entrusted with the same position in the Europa League quarter-final against Rubin Kazan, so then-manager Rafa Benitez must have had a great deal of faith in the youngster. His first European appearance ended in defeat, but an aggregate victory eventually saw Chelsea lift the Europa League trophy – Aké was an unused substitute in the final.

He clearly has a bright future, but there are some question marks about his best position. Throughout his youth, he has been mainly used in a purely defensive capacity, but given his size – only 5’11” – he may not be suited to the physical nature of being a Premier League centre-half. He has been deployed on the left of defence, a position soon to be made vacant by either the departure or possibly retirement of Ashley Cole, but his passing and reading of the game would be wasted out wide. It seems that his best position is the ‘Makelélé’ role, but it is a position occupied by Nemanja Matic and sometimes Ramires. Getting into this Chelsea side will be no mean feat.

With his position already well-filled, a loan spell would seem a good option with the window fast approaching. Vitesse Arnhem and Middlesbrough are Mourinho’s preferred destinations with links with both clubs, but Aké has reportedly demanded his choice of club. He clearly has the confidence and the mentality to make it at the top, but does he have the ability? At this point in time, there are few who would bet against him.


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Can Van Aanholt solve Sunderland’s left-back problems?

Left-back has been a defensive quandary for Sunderland for the past few seasons, seeing loanees or others playing out of position being temporary solutions. However, Black Cats boss Gus Poyet has employed Chelsea’s Patrick van Aanholt for the next four years to try and solve the left-sided problem.

North-East football fans may remember that name, as Van Aanholt did spend a month over the Tyne at Newcastle United during their Championship winning season in 2009/10. Then Magpies boss Chris Hughton was full of praise for Van Aanholt and it was reported that the Irishman asked Chelsea if the loan could be extended, meanwhile the then 19-year-old had more ambitious ideas. He rejected a return to St. James Park to challenge Ashley Cole’s spot in the Chelsea defence. Unfortunately for the young Dutchman, only two full appearances materialised and strangely enough, one of those games was a 4-3 League Cup defeat to Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in August 2010.

With lack of chances at the London club, Van Aanholt consequently was farmed out onto Leicester City and later returning to his homeland to play for Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie. Spending the next two and half seasons in Arnhem, playing regular first-team football is where the young man has matured into a 23-year-old very secure in a role that Sunderland so badly need filled. You can say it has been a successful time at Vitesse for Van Aanholt, that led Sunderland’s new man being named in Louis van Gaal’s 30-man provisional World Cup squad this summer.

I cannot see Van Aanholt blowing the roof off the Premier League, but expect a firm defender with some impressive offensive expertise. He is courageous in a tackle and solid when marking, but Sunderland will see more positives in his attacking than his defending. In Holland, like a modern full-back you see nowadays, he showed the confidence and ability to take his opposite number on, although the defenders in the Eredivisie are not as tough as some he will come across in the Premier League. Strong on the ball, he uses his speed along with his ingenuity to get past his challenger and whip a ball into the box. He produced three assists last term, while in fairness, his distribution could be stronger. Furthermore, in the 67 appearances made Van Aanholt has provided Vitesse with goals too, delivering five with four of those coming last season. Opposition goalkeepers will need to be aware of the powerful left-foot he has behind him, that could leave their fingers stinging from distance.

Though great going forward, getting back to defend could cause a problem leaving his team-mates exposed, but he does have pace in his arsenal to use when needed. For Sunderland fans, the burning issue regarding this signing will be whether or not the player can be seen as a permanent fixture in the starting line-up at the Stadium of Light. Time will tell, but with two years of great experience in the Dutch top flight under his belt, he is certainly worthy of being given a chance to prove himself in the red and white shirt of Sunderland.


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Sunderland clinch Van Aanholt from Chelsea

Dutch youngster Patrick van Aanholt told reporters last week that he was unsure where his future lay, he was certain that it would not be at Stamford Bridge where he would by plying his trade next season. Sunderland have signed the Dutchman on a four year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Van Aanholt, who has had several loan spells while being under contract at Chelsea has finally decided it is time to leave in order to play regular first team football. It is a decision that has several teams on high alert.

The Sunderland deal was completed on Friday evening due to the fact that their sporting director, Lee Congerton, was an employee of Chelsea while van Aanholt was coming up through their ranks and has worked with the player before. He will now set off to Portugal to join the Black Cats in their summer pre-season tour.

The 23-year-old was initially thought to have been targeted by Vitesse Arnhem, a club where he enjoyed a very successful loan spell for the last two years, but Gus Poyet and his advisers are low on defenders and Van Aanholt joins for a rumoured £2 million or less given the fact that he only has one year to play on his contract.

The Dutch defender’s chances at Chelsea were slim to none after the purchase of Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid. Where Van Aanholt saw an opportunity, Mourinho saw a problem position and it now appears that if Van Aanholt is to continue his progression at another club.


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Chelsea set to loan out another to Vitesse

Colombian striker Joao Rodriguez is set to become the third player currently on loan from Chelsea at Vitesse Arnhem, according to multiple reports.

The striker joined the club in 2012 after a successful trial as an Under-16 and would join up with Blues’ teammates Wallace and Bertrand Traore in the Eredivisie if the deal to Vitesse Arnhem goes through.

The issue that arose from Rodriguez’ transfer to Chelsea, and the reason why he hasn’t joined up with the squad is due to the fact that he can not obtain an English work permit. This is the reason he was sent back to Deportes Quindio after his initial signing, and the reason why he will likely be loaned out to the Eredivisie club, where a work permit might be more accessible.

Vitesse Arnhem have lost three Chelsea players from last season including Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu, Patrick van Aanholt and Lucas Piazon but will benefit from the additions of Wallace and ongoing loan deal involving Traore.

The partnership between Chelsea and Vitesse Arnhem appears to be growing stronger and stronger.


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Defender tells Chelsea he’s leaving

Chelsea defender Patrick van Aanholt has told reporters that his future does not lay at Stamford Bridge. The 23-year-old was quick to respond to the question, “Where will you be next season?” with a definitive, “It definitely won’t be Chelsea, I am done here.”

Since joining the Blues in 2007, the Dutch international has had loan spells at Newcastle, Leicester, Coventry, Wigan, and a more significant loan spell of two and a half years at Vitesse Arnhem. The agreement between the Dutch club and the London-based club has come to an end and van Aanholt says he needs to be playing more regular first team footbal at his parent club, so a move is on the cards.

Ashley Cole has just left Chelsea, and a deal for Luis Filipe appears imminent, which leave van Aanholt firmly in the cold. The defender is also aware that a move back to the Premier League is not an option at the moment, and may chose to go back to the Netherlands in order to rebuild his career following some very inconsistent years between clubs.

Despite becoming a mainstay in the Vitesse ranks, and appearing 67 times for the club, he has not been given any hope by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho that he is needed or wanted by the club. Van Aanholt is your typical Dutch left wing back and with the trend pointing towards attacking wing-backs and hybrid players on the flanks, van Aanholt could certainly be an interesting purchase if he hits the market.

He has one year to go on his Chelsea contract, and the Stamford Bridge men may want to get back some of the money they have invested in the young defender before giving him the chance of leaving on a free next summer.


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Jordania planning to halt the Vitesse’s & Chelsea’s partnership


The zany but passionate former Vitesse owner Merab Jordania is planning to purchase the Arnhem-based club so he can close down their association with English Premier League giants Chelsea.

It is well known that Vitesse’s current owner Alexander Chigirinsky and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich are good friends and business partners. The Russians both own large shares in Snegiri, a property development company in their homeland.

Since 2010, the London club has been regularly sending their young talent on loan to Arnhem. However, the relationship between the clubs is being investigated by the KNVB (Dutch FA) after Jordania accused Blues officials of instructing Vitesse not to try and win the Eredivisie. The reason being that UEFA regulations dictate that two clubs with a shared owner cannot enter the same European competition and Vitesse have fell from challenging for the league title in December, down to fourth in the Eredivisie standings.

The former Georgian player Jordania, lost power of Vitesse to Chigirinsky in October 2013 and last month, the ex-owner was been reported to the police and prohibited from attending their matches for three years after allegedly sending threats to chief executive Joost de Wit. Voetbal International has reported that the conflict between Jordania and De Wit had apparently been ongoing for some time now. According to Dutch journalist Richard van der Made, Jordania threatened to chop off De Wit’s fingers.

With this behaviour, Jordania is obviously popular with the Dutch media and has been controversial since becoming the first foreign businessman to buy an Eredivisie club. Jordania has now flapped his gums stating to Voetbal International that he is now forming a group of investors to help him take control of the Eredivisie club again: “Will I actually return? There are always discussions and if I find the right opportunity to return, I will certainly not let it pass.”

In a controversial statement, he accused that Chelsea signed of Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel for €9m last summer for a lot less than Bundesliga club Wolfsburg offered for the player as an example of their influence, stating:

Wolfsburg offered €15m for Van Ginkel but he went to Chelsea for six million less. It felt like giving him away.

The Georgian admitted that he is aiding the KNVB with their investigation: “They want to know exactly how it is. I see it as my job to tell you what’s going on at Vitesse.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea refuse to comment on Jordania’s claims but will be helping the KNVB fully with their inquiry. For Vitesse, Jordania’s comments puts a damper on the good season that manager Peter Bosz and the players have experienced on the pitch. Currently, four Chelsea starlets are over in Holland, with Christian Atsu, Lucas Piazón, Bertrand Traoré and Patrick van Aanholt excelling in the Eredivisie like others have in the past.


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The Eredivisie season restarts after the winter break on Friday night, so as a preview, we have decided to rundown the stars of the division so far this season.

Here’s Will Burns with  the next five…

Vitesse - Kelvin Leerdam

Feyenoord must be ruing the day they let Mr. Leerdam join Vitesse Arnhem on a free transfer in the summer. Although, the Rotterdam side have a fantastic right-back in Daryl Janmaat, he does not have the goalscoring prowess of Kelvin Leerdam.

From sixteen appearances this season, 14 games at right-back, Leerdam has notched up seven goals, including three goals in that last four games. Not bad for a free transfer.

A true attacking full-back, Leerdam is a confident dribbler and at times acting as a supplementary right-winger. The 23-year-old has continued to be dependable defending too. He has made 36 tackles, 23 interceptions and 58 clearances so far this campaign. 

Feyenoord - Graziano Pelle

The Italian hitman is a bit of a godfather in front of goal, showing no mercy and laying all his opponents to rest. Once again, it has been a tremendous season for Pelle, at 29-years-old, he has notched 13 in 16 starts.

The man from Lecce is the epitome of an old-fashioned ‘no. 9’ – the ability to hold the ball up, bringing others into the game, great movement, good in the air, a good football brain and a lethal finisher. It is no wonder how it finds it so easy to score in the Eredivisie.

Feyenoord has scored 36 league goals so far this term, Pelle has scored 36% of them and with the Rotterdam side sitting just four points of the leaders, then a strong challenge to win their first Eredivisie title since the 1998/99 season.

Vitesse - Lucas Piazon

This is personally my pick of the best player of the half-season. Another talent on-loan from Chelsea, no-one can argue that the young Brazilian has not made the most impact out of all of them.

At just 19, he has become Vitesse Arnhem’s quarterback, everytime he receives the ball, the Arnhem side look likely to score. He has amazing figures in front of goal, from 16 starts, Piazón has scored 11 goals and created 8 assists.

With Piazon at the helm, leading the team forward, currently joint on points with Ajax at the top of the Eredivisie, Vitesse look to have the best chance of the past few years in stopping the Amsterdammers stranglehold on the league championship.

FC Twente - Quincy Promes

Promes was has made a real impact at Twente this year and it’s not surprising since he was named the winner of the Eerste Divisie’s player of the year award, last season while at the promoted Go Ahead Eagles.

Sitting on the right side of attack in a 4-3-3, Promes is finishing as many chances, as he creates them. From 15 games, the 22-year-old has scored eight times while providing four assists. He loves a shot from outside the area and has let fire a total of 49 shots.

This season, he has linked up tremendously with Dusan Tadić and Luc Castaignos and all three are responsible to the impressive third place that Twente are sitting in, just three points from joint leaders Ajax and Vitesse, proving that the division is not a two-horse race.

PSV - Karim Rekik

Averaging 6.6 clearances per game, Karim Rekik has become one of the first names on Philip Cocu’s team sheet at PSV this season, although it has been a disappointing campaign for the young side.

Rekik, himself only 19, joined this summer on loan from Manchester City and already PSV Director of Football Marcel Brands has admitted he has enquired about keeping him for the 14/15 season also.

Standing at 6ft 1inches tall, Rekik uses his height to his advantage for aerial duels and headed clearances. He is proving to be strong in the air, currently winning 73.6% of his aerial duels. Karim is capable of playing from the back, an attribute which is steadily gaining real significance for the PSV backline. 



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The Eredivisie season restarts after the winter break on Friday night, so as a preview, over the next five nights we will be posting the stars of the division so far this term.

Here’s Will Burns with the rundown of the first five…

Vitesse - Patrick van Aanholt

The 23-year-old left back is halfway through his second season on loan in Arnhem and already it’s his best yet. Vitesse sit second in the league, gunning for this first ever Eredivisie championship and Van Aanholt has played his part making 16 appearances. Attacking down the left, Van Aanholt has the opposition quaking in their personalised boots while notching three goals while creating another three in the process.

The young defender’s greatest display this season was in Vitesse’s 6-2 demolition of PSV Eindhoven. Although he scored once and set up two others, he showed faultless composure and anticipation in defence especially when stopping the PSV attacks early in the second half.

Will a return to the Premier League with Chelsea be on the cards? Or does Jose Mourinho see Ryan Bertrand as the natural successor to Ashley Cole?

Ajax - Daley Blind

Son of Dutch legend, Danny, Daley Blind has emerged as the natural first choice left-back for Ajax over the last 18 months. However as of last nine games, Ajax manager Frank de Boer has moved Blind into the centre of midfield where he has continued to shine.

In a total of 14 appearances in the Eredivisie this season, the move to midfield was obviously going to be a success looking at Blind’s passing stats. So far, the 23-year-old has a fantastic 89.2% success rate, completing 856 out of 960 passes.

Already a mainstay in the Oranje first team, his international career could be taking another turn. Van Gaal classes Blind as his first choice left-back, but his recent displays in the holding midfielder position could change Louis’ mind for Brazil in the summer.

FC Groningen - Eric Botteghin

The Brazilian central defender has been an ever-present for Groningen this season, leading the club to sixth in the league standings. Botteghin’s main strength this season has been winning the majority of aerial duels that face him, he is 6ft 4inches tall afterall.

He is a no-nonsense defender, not afraid to boot the ball up the field to give his team time to regroup (168 clearances this season). His long-balls are accurate too; an interesting stat is that the Brazilian has completed a massive 94 of his 128 attempted punts up field.

Joining from NAC Breda in the summer, you have to wonder how long Groningen can hold onto Botteghin, especially when his ‘safety-first’ attitude would be right at home in the Premier League.

FC Twente - Luc Castaignos

Returning back to the Netherlands after an unsuccessful spell in Serie A, Castaignos looks like he could be ready to hit the big leagues again, at only 21-years-old.

At Inter Milan, over two seasons, the powerhouse striker only made six appearances in Italy and failed to make any impact. At Twente, to date, he has notched 23 times in 53 appearances since returning to the Eredivisie, including 10 goals this season.

Castaignos, Dusan Tadic and Quincy Promes have fired Twente into third place so far, just three points behind leaders Ajax. If the goals keep coming, then could a second Eredivisie title be heading to Enschede? Time will tell.

Ajax - Jasper Cillessen

Ajax suffered a terrible start to the season only winning two of the first five games, with goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer, rightly taking the majority of the blame due to some lack of concentration. The carnage continued and in September, Barcelona and PSV hit Ajax with a pair of 4-0 defeats. Meanwhile, Cillessen was keeping attacks at bay for the Jong Ajax side in the Jupiler League. De Boer called the 24-year-old into action, dropping Vermeer and Cillessen has cemented the starting spot his own.

Cillessen has been impressive, with a young inexperienced defence in front of him, he has kept seven clean sheets in 11 games he’s started. Louis van Gaal has found Cillessen impressive too, and has been named the Dutch number one, again replacing Vermeer in recent months.



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Vitesse capture another Chelsea loanee


Vitesse Arnhem have loaned yet another Chelsea youngster to help their charge in the Eredivisie title race.

The 18-year-old Burkina Faso international, Bertrand Traoré, whom signed for Chelsea officially on January 1st, barely had time to unpack his bags as Blues boss Jose Mourinho has sent the midfielder onto the GelreDome until the end of the season.

A statement on the ChelseaFC.com said: “Traoré signed for Chelsea following a successful trial period with the club during the summer, and now heads to the Netherlands to gain first-team experience. Traoré will link up with a Vitesse side which is currently second in the Eredivisie, on the same points as leaders Ajax.”

Two further Chelsea youngsters on loan at Vitesse, English central defender Sam Hutchinson and French wideman Gaël Kakuta, have not made an impact in Arnhem so far this season and have been recalled to London.


Born in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in his home country of Burkina Faso, Traoré joined Chelsea’s youth academy in 2011 after making his international debut at just 15 years old.

Mourinho was impressed with the youngster after viewing his performances in youth matches, and decided to take him on the club’s pre-season tour of Asia. Traoré went on to star in three games of the tour, scoring twice and was a stand-out performer as the Londoners strolled to a 4-1 friendly win against a Singha All Stars XI in July.

Chelsea’s main struggle was obtaining a work permit for him – entering the UK on a student visa, the Blues had to wait until Traoré was 18 to meet the legal criteria.

In Asia, he was featured out wide, although he will possibly star as central attacking midfielder for Vitesse.

Although, he has been known to have problems with fitness levels at time-to-time, Traoré’s use of the ball is his main plus point. A very proficient passer with great range, he is not afraid to take an opponent on and burn him for pace. He will also often sting the goalkeepers’ gloves with fierce shots from long range.

Vitesse have once again picked up a great talent from Mourinho’s side, and expect the Burkina Faso international to be a success like his Chelsea team-mates Lucas Piazón and Christian Atsu have so far in Arnhem this season.


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Vitesse loans Chilean wonderkid

Chilean left-sided player Cristian Cuevas has become yet another Chelsea player to join Vitesse on a season-long loan.

The highly-rated Cuevas is an 18-year-old Chilean Under-20 international, who joined Chelsea on a five-year deal from O’Higgins in July. He made his first-team debut for his former side in May 2011, having risen through the youth ranks at the club.

Primarily a left-back, he will star as a left-winger at the Arnhem outfit, as club colleague Patrick van Aanholt currently holds the defensive spot.

There are big hopes for Cuevas in his native Chile, with the left footer currently playing two years above his age group and acquitting himself well. He represented the Chilean Under-20 side at this summer’s Under-20 World Cup, helping his side to the quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to Ghana.

Previously this year, Cuevas scored twice in the South American Youth Championships as Chile finished fourth in the tournament after winning Group A.

At Chelsea, Cuevas is almost certainly being viewed as the long-term replacement for Ashley Cole, whose contract expires next summer.

Cuevas, as Van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta has in the past, has been loaned to Vitesse to get valuable first team experience in the Eredivisie. Furthermore when the time is right and if he develops as hoped, Cuevas could challenge current Cole understudy, Ryan Bertrand, for the left-back spot at Stamford Bridge.


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Piazón set for Vitesse loan

Young Brazilian playmaker Lucas Piazón is set to follow his Chelsea teammates Patrick Van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta to Vitesse Arnhem where he join on a season-long deal.

The Europa League champions have already have a strong relationship with the Eredivisie side after sending development players out on loan in the past, and In June saw Dutch international midfielder Marco van Ginkel make a permanent move to Stamford Bridge.

The 19-year-old is highly rated by the London club, and under new manager Jose Mourinho it was thought that he could play a role in the title challenge this year. This experience may have to wait a year as they have decided he is too raw to be thrust into the Chelsea first team squad. Last season, he had a successful six-month spell on loan with Spanish La Liga side Malaga where he made 14 first team appearances.

Piazón has made just one appearance for the Blues in the Premier League, which was during the 8-0 thrashing of Aston Villa.  However, the midfielder endured mixed fortunes after arrving as a second-half substitute to lay on an assist for compatriot Ramires, before seeing his penalty saved by Villa ‘keeper Brad Guzan.

In early 2011, Chelsea secured the services of the young Brazilian by means of a pre-contract, having to fight off the interest from a number of the world’s leading clubs, including Serie A giants Juventus. Finally on the 15th of March of that year, São Paulo announced that Piazón could only play for Chelsea senior team after 20 January 2012 when he became eligible to obtain a work visa, but he would join in the 2011 summer transfer window.

If Vitesse can capture this loan deal it will go a long way to fill the gap left by Van Ginkel this past summer.


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