A few weeks of struggling for Feyenoord had one positive upside. The silver lining in their poor start is Mitchell te Vrede, who is responsible for five of the six goals Feyenoord has scored in all competitions. Is he good enough to be the first striker? Martijn Hilhorst does not think so…
Te Vrede started his career at AFC, an amateur club who is known for their connections with Ajax. In 2008, he was snatched away by AZ Alkmaar who saw some potential in the big striker. His first season at a professional club was partially successful, as he was selected to make his debut for the Netherlands Under-18. Although he was not performing well on a club level. He was an official member of the first squad at AZ in 2010/11 (he was already 20 years), but he did not played one minute for them.
AZ still wanted to extend his contract after a year like Mitchell had, but he decided to sign a year deal at Excelsior where he was promised to play more. It could have been a season for him to gain experience, responsibility as a first striker for a Eredivisie club. Eventually playing nineteen matches in which he scored twice, but his greater performances were in the second squad of Excelsior which was a team in combination with the Feyenoord youth. Scoring tons of goals for Excelsior/Feyenoord that season.
Feyenoord’s Technical director Martin van Geel then decided to give him a chance – a free, scoring striker behind your first striker. Who does not want that? During the 2012/13 season, Graziano Pellé made jaws drop all across the Netherlands with his staggering amount of goals so, Te Vrede only played in one match that season.
The season afterwards (last season) was one more successful for Mitchell. Due to injuries, match bans from Pelle he was given more minutes to show off his icy veins. He played in fourteen matches (eleven of them not 100%), playing mostly a substitution and he then managed to score on four occasions.
Not bad, but surely not enough to be the first striker after the departure of Pellé to Southampton. Feyenoord have been looking for months now to buy a top class striker in which they did not succeed in yet. Manchester City’s John Guidetti won’t be their new forward and Wolfsburg’s Bas Dost does not seems to be eager for a return to the Eredivisie. However, they still need a striker.
Yes, he did score three goals in the same amount of Eredivisie matches this season, but looking more detailed to him you could clearly see that Te Vrede is simply not good enough for the way Feyenoord plays. His first-touch is not brilliant while his passing this season haven’t been impressive (69%) and in three matches he only managed to create one single chance. It’s a bit unfair to compare him with Pellé, but the Italian created 57 chances in 28 matches previous season – an average around two per match.
All in all, that is the problem with Mitchell te Vrede. He isn’t capable of controlling the ball and see what is happening around him. His technical abilities are not the required level you would expect from a striker at such a big club. For example, Lex Immers is invisible in the ‘number ten’ position due to constant bad decision-making from Te Vrede.
The opinions around him did shift around because of his great start this season, but it is obvious that he is not the player who will make your team better. Feyenoord did make some bad decisions on the transfer market in the past. So they have to be careful with their next move. With all the news around Feyenoord it is hard to predict if they even will buy a striker. Their focus seems on a replacement for Jordy Clasie who will leave for Southampton or FC Porto.
A internal solution could be the following: Mulder, Wilkshire, Van Beek, Mathijsen, Kongolo; Clasie/El Ahmadi*, Toornstra, Vilhena; Basacikoglu, Immers, Boetius.
* Most likely the replacement for Clasie.
So in a 4-3-3 formation with new signing Jens Toornstra as a ‘number ten’ and Immers as a striker. Feyenoord is known for their brilliant youth and the departure of Pellé isn’t one to panic about. In the price range Feyenoord are currently in they could not buy a striker who is significantly better than Mitchell te Vrede, but in my opinion this seems like a great solution and that even without over-paying on the transfer market, because there is only one week left.
Feyenoord slowly becomes the team they used to be. Footballers such as Schaken, Vormer, Kazim-Richards and Te Vrede are perfect bench material. And with the transfers they already did it is inevitable that they will be a serious contender with Ajax and PSV to become champions.
*All stats courtesy of WhoScored and Squawka, via Opta.
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