Tag Archives: Sunderland

Could Tonny Vilhena be ready to call Sunderland, Bournemouth or Southampton home?

Although the Dutch are not going to be at the European championships this summer, there is still a lot of very talented players coming through and several of them will be targets for European clubs this window. The three big names that I expect to be attracting interest are Anwar El Ghazi, Jetro Willems and Tonny Vilhena. In this article, I’ll be concentrating on Vilhena, who could leave this window, due to his contract wrangle with Feyenoord at the moment. He looks set to leave the club with Giovanni van Bronckhurst admitting that much recently writes Jake Jackman.

The types of clubs that have been linked with Tonny Vilhena aren’t the biggest, despite his undoubted potential. Sunderland, AFC Bournemouth and Southampton have been credited with an interest in the attacking midfielder, but none of these sides are in the greatest health at the moment, which might lead to Vilhena leaving it until the summer to move. Ronald Koeman has spoken out about his interest in the player he managed for a period at Feyenoord and that could be the best fit for him, as it’s unlikely that either Eddie Howe or Sam Allardyce know the midfielder’s game as well as Koeman does. Although the English media believe that Sunderland are the favourites to sign him, Allardyce’s treatment of Jeremain Lens could leave Vilhena with doubts about moving to the North East, especially considering the club’s perilous league position.

Vilhena has hardly had a great contribution to Feyenoord’s season to date, only starting in three Eredivisie matches, but he did manage to score in the club’s last two fixtures before the winter break. The midfielder has two goals and two assists this season, with a goal involvement every 107.8 minutes, which is a very good return and begs the question why he hasn’t been used more. He is best served as a number ten, which is a possible that Feyenoord haven’t always used this season and this may be part of his reason for leaving.

The Feyenoord midfielder is attacking minded, which is why he has struggled to break into the side this season as he can be lazy defensively when used as part of a midfield three. His best position is as a number ten, with his movement being one of the major strengths to his game. He knows when to stay deep and when to make surging runs into the box. He is also an excellent finisher with both his feet and his head. As expected from a Dutch youth international, Vilhena is very good when passing the football, with the ability to play defence-splitting passes.

In a period of precariousness for Dutch football, Vilhena will have a great belief in his ability to be a big part of the future. There remain doubts about his attitude after he was involved in a bust up with team-mate Miquel Nelom in recent times. Feyenoord may be even keener to do a deal for the midfielder this month as he is obviously looking for a move, and that won’t have a good impact on the overall morale of the squad. Feyenoord have a very good chance of achieving something this season as they are only two points off PSV in second and five off Ajax, after a good first half of the season.

I think Vilhena is a very talented individual, who is struggling to push on, which is why he is trying to move to another club. He has the ability to play in the Premier League and he will take a lot of confidence from the way Gini Wijnaldum has settled into the league. Although he is nowhere near as complete as Wijnaldum, they are similar players and that will be the level Vilhena is trying to hit in the next few years. Southampton would be the best fit for him, if that deal can be salvaged. If he goes to Sunderland as is being rumoured by some media outlets, that move could do more damage than good for his career long term as Allardyce isn’t known for being a fan of players like Vilhena.



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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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Sunderland chase Celtic defender

According to today’s Daily Record, the latest Dutchman to be linked to the Premier League currently plies his trade in Scotland in the heart of Glasgow Celtic’s defence. 23-year-old Virgil van Dijk has been scouted by Sunderland ahead of a possible bid that would probably need to far exceed the £2.6 million that his current team paid FC Groningen for his services.

In his first season at Parkhead, he won the Player of the Year award and has impressed largely since his summer move last year. Swansea were previously linked to the big centre-half, but were scared off by his hefty price tag placed on him by Celtic, who are in no hurry to sell the constantly improving defender.

After a deal for Ashley Williams fell through, the Black Cats manager Gus Poyet seems keen on van Dijk to fill a void left by the release of Carlos Cueller and Andrea Dossena in their defense. The aging Wes Brown and John O’Shea are currently holding down the fort but a young aggressive defender who can score goals would be perfect for a team in transition and Gus Poyet seems keen to make that happen if his recent scouting is anything to go by.

Van Dijk began his career at FC Groningen where he appeared 62 times scoring seven times, and moved to Glasgow in 2013 where he appeared for Celtic 36 times scoring five times.


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Altidore leaves AZ for Sunderland

The Eredivisie has lost yet another of it’s stars of last season, with American international striker Jozy Altidore leaving AZ Alkmaar to seal a move to the Premier League with Sunderland.

20130709 - Jozy Altidore

The 23-year-old has signed a four-year deal with the Black Cats, for an undisclosed fee rumoured to be around €8 million.

The striker completed a medical on Monday and put pen to paper on the contract on Tuesday and talking to the club’s official website he said: “I’m thrilled to be here. It’s a fantastic club, I’m really excited about this season and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Altidore began his career in the MLS with the New York Red Bulls, before heading to Spain with Villarreal, where he went on to enjoy loan spells at Xerez, Hull City and Bursaspor. He arrived in Holland in the summer of 2001, and joined AZ, scoring 38 goals in 67 appearances in the process. However, last season he made his mark, winning the KNVB Beker and scoring a career-high 23 goals.

It is a blow to fans of the Dutch league who has seen top performers from last term like Marco van Ginkel, Filip Djuridic, Dries Mertens, Virgil van Dijk, Sanharib Malki and soon to be top scorer Wilfried Bony all departing for pastures new. This maybe cements the fact even further that the Dutch top flight is the stepping-stone of Europe, but of course, this also means that the next season, others will have to step up and make their mark like Altidore did last year.



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