Newcastle United are one of three Premiership football clubs currently linked to FC Twente’s Brazilian-Dutch centre-half, Douglas Franco Teixeira. Playing with the name ‘Douglas’ on his shirt, FC Twente have already signed his intended replacement, Andreas Bjelland, leaving his departure this summer almost a certainty.
At 6’4”, Douglas is a tall and aggressive defender who was recently sponsored through his naturalisation by the Dutch Football Association, the KNVB. Although becoming a Dutch citizen in November 2011, FIFA rules prevent him from making his Netherlands debut before September 2012.
Douglas currently tops unofficial fan-site FC Twente Online’s player rankings for the season, averaging 8.0/ 10 having played 41 games in all competitions.
Douglas has been part of a squad that won all the available silverware in the Dutch competition, including the 2010 Championship, the KNVB Cup in 2011, and the Johan Cruyff Shield (Charity Shield Equivalent) in both years. After the success of NUFC’s previous FC Twente recruit, Cheick Tioté, Douglas could be just what we need to strengthen our back line.
However, having followed Douglas from the terraces at FC Twente’s Grolsch Veste this season, I seriously doubt that Douglas would prove a good buy for NUFC.
Part of it is simply why is he moving on now and particularly why has he not moved sooner. The honest truth is that few players of any quality spend more than a couple of years developing in Holland.
The Dutch competition is weak, equivalent to a combined Scottish Premiership and First Division, with six teams of European quality alongside a long tail of teams mixing young tyros and mediocre journeymen.
But that’s not the most important issue: there is a more fundamental question of how he would he settle into the Premiership’s notoriously exacting demands.
Douglas is renowned for his impetuosity. When Steve McClaren swapped FC Twente for Wolfsburg in the summer of 2010, he turned down the chance to sign the youngster precisely because of doubts over his disciplinary record.
Douglas’s latest indiscretion was lashing out at PSV’s Ola Toivonen in response to a minor foul, leading to his latest three match suspension. But the image that is burned into my memory is his red card in a cup game against one-time NUFC opponent AZ Alkmaar.
His disbelief at the punishment led him to attempt to head-butt the referee and to having to be manhandled, fists flying, by his teammates from the field. Good for a five match ban in the Netherlands but potentially much more serious in England.
There’s also the question of his physical match, with the relentless demands of a competition without a mid-season break. In Holland, Douglas has averaged (including suspensions) around 45 competitive games per season.
A good cup run and the demands of European football might see Newcastle face 55 games in 2012: a Premiership side might find Douglas starting to lose his freshness, and potentially, his head, in early 2013.
On his day Douglas is a fearless sliding tackler but his wholehearted style will place him at elevated risk of injury in the Premiership’s far more physical style.
Former teammate Bryan Ruiz has been confirmed as missing the rest of Fulham’s season, after the latest of a series of injuries that have confined the big money signing from FC Twente to the fringes of the Craven Cottage squad.
Douglas is clearly a talented young player with the skills and dedication to step up to a higher level of European football. But signing him may prove to be too risky for an NUFC side looking to step up a gear and stabilise themselves for a testing season ahead.