Newcastle’s Dutch Transfer targets – On The Spot Update
One day after NUFC’s uninspiring foray into the Netherlands at the Kyocera Arena, the Dutch professional football competition launches with the first major piece of silverware, the Johan Cruijff Shield (formerly the Supercup). Dick Advocaat marks his return to the Netherlands managing PSV against last season’s Eredivisie winners, Ajax.
A number of players involved in these two sides have been linked with St James’ Park in recent months, including Erik Pieters, Vurnon Anita and Gregory van der Wiel. Erik Pieters has only just had the plaster removed from his foot which he broke in April and has yet to resume training, whilst Gregory van der Wiel yet to achieve a desired level of match fitness after a disappointing performance at the Euros.
Only Vurnon Anita starts tonight, showing coach Frank de Boer’s confidence and trust in the 23 year old, which early this week saw Ajax director of football Marc Overmars announce that the club was committed to preventing Anita’s departure this summer in response to Newcastle United’s bid.
The club have offered a new three/ four year contract with significantly improved terms to retain the midfielder who is a key link in De Boer’s efforts to retain the title. Although officially only considering the offer, the signs are that only a crazily high offer will prise the 23 year old, with already 100 senior club appearances, away from the ArenA.
Ashley’s apparent reluctance to countenance a spending spree would therefore appear to signal the end to the chase for the young talent, and certainly any chance to buy early into a highly promising young player with significant potential.
Gregory van der Wiel’s absence from the substitute’s bench is also telling. Officially, the club regard Van der Wiel as lacking match fitness after a late return to training following the Dutch exertions in the European Championships. However, his agent has also been informed that Ajax do not wish to renew his contract, and that his opportunities to play before his contract expires next summer will be extremely limited.
De Boer has already secured replacements to cover Van der Wiel’s position at full back, therefore his departure from Amsterdam seems imminent.
Gregory van der Wiel is a solid player within the Eredivisie and has won all three major Dutch prizes with the club, plus a runner’s up medal at the 2010 World Cup. He has scored regularly for club and once for country, but his career has stalled of late after falling out of favour with De Boer and a disappointing performance in Poland & Ukraine.
Van der Wiel would be a like-for-like replacement for Danny Simpson: he is an enthusiastic and hard-working player prone to occasional concentration lapses. He seems to have some disciplinary issues, having spent a prolonged spell at second division HFC Haarlem, whilst part of the Ajax reserves, to improve his mentality.
Missing a friendly international due to concussion, he posted a picture of himself attending a rap concert, leading Bert van Marwijk to question his commitment and common sense.
His next club will ultimately determine whether he is remembered as a superstar or a journeyman, and it is hard to tell which way he will eventually go. He is in desperate need of a new stage to showcase his talents and to prove he still has what it takes to perform at the highest level, and ultimately to get the lucrative Premiership or Bundesliga contract he clearly aspires to.
He could offer a lot to Newcastle and he could be acquired at a bargain price, but whether the deal is value depends on whether he gels with the existing squad and can benefit from its structure and support without rebelling against the team’s higher demands.
Finally, speaking after FC Twente’s 2-0 victory in what is effectively the Intertoto Cup against FC Mlada Boleslav, Douglas Franco Texeira gave the strongest sign yet that he won’t be leaving the Grolsch Veste over the summer. He was openly critically about his team’s performance in not ruthlessly punishing off a weak opponent, comments later echoed by coach Steve McLaren, suggesting that his summer histrionics have been forgiven.
The next 12 months will see Douglas’s value increase substantially, something his agent and club chairman Joop Munsterman must be aware of. New Dutch coach Van Gaal announces his World Cup qualifying squad on 10th August, and Douglas will surely be included in Van Gaals’ revamp of the aging vedettes that failed so spectacularly this summer.
Add to that a decent Eredivisie campaign without high media expectations or pressure, and good runs in the Europa and domestic cups, and by May 2012 Douglas might have the profile and visibility to be getting highly lucrative offers from the top four in England, Germany and Spain that would far outbid what Newcastle have to date put on the table.
All these things seem to rule NUFC out of contention for Douglas for exactly the same reasons as for Anita. Overpaying would not fit with the plan of cheaply acquiring young talent with eventual resale value. So although it is disappointing not to see big name arrivals at NE1 4ST this summer, this does fit with the plan that served us so well this season.
For the same reason, Van der Wiel seems to be a possibility for the club, with everything depending on how willing the player is to take a financial knock now to secure a big payday in two years’ time. With Simpson’s departure now seeming virtually guaranteed, he could easily fill the Mancunian’s boots at right back, though we would have to cross our fingers and hope that we got Van der Wiel the conqueror of 2010 and not the rap fan on the treatment table.
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