Vitesse's former owner saved van Aanholt from being sold

Tom Shaw

In a rather candid interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, former Vitesse "caretaker owner" Merab Jordania claims that Chelsea had a deal in place with FC Twente for Patrick van Aanholt until Jordania intervened.

Vitesse's former "caretaker owner" Merab Jordania recently sat down with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf for an exit interview, of sorts. He was rather candid, and while we'll be taking a closer look at the full interview later in the week, there was a rather curious bit of news that merited discussing first.

In the interview, Jordania claims that Chelsea was planning to sell Patrick van Aanholt to FC Twente and further, that the left back was "on his way to Enschede when [Jordania] intervened." This comes as something of a surprise, since a fair few of us were hoping to see van Aanholt get the opportunity to earn some first team minutes at left back next season.

According to the interview, the only reason why Patrick van Aanholt is still with the club is because Jordania himself intervened. He was apparently furious at the prospect of one of Vitesse's best players being sold to a rival club, and feels that van Aanholt can develop into a world-class player. Jordania also feels that out of the six loanees currently at Chelsea, only van Aanholt and Lucas Piazón have world-class talent.

It's also rather interesting that Chelsea decided to listen to Jordania and choose to keep van Aanholt. While Jordania certainly has a keen eye for talent (he signed Wilfried Bony for less than £3m from Czech club Sparta Praha and was able to bring defensive mainstay and current Vitesse captain Guram Kashia with him from Georgia for a mere £250,000), it's a bit surprising that Chelsea (which has some of the best assessors of talent on the planet), would change course based on recommendations from Vitesse. Chelsea is without a doubt the older brother in this modern footballing family of ours, but it's good to know that the club is willing to utilise the information and recommendations Vitesse can offer regarding the players we share.

While Jordania's quote is certainly enough to make one wonder if van Aanholt is in Chelsea's long-term plans, it should be noted that the interview does not specify exactly when Chelsea had worked out the deal with FC Twente or how much the fee was. Looking at the surrounding context in the interview, however, we can make a reasonable assumption that Chelsea had planned to sell van Aanholt this during this past summer's transfer window sometime after 5 July and before the window closed.

With regards to a potential fee, all I could offer is speculation. Presumably, Twente had some money to spend this summer after selling Nacer Chadli to Spurs and Leroy Fer to Norwich City, but they also spent less than £1m on the left back they did sign, Dico Koppers.

However, I was able to narrow down the timeline quite a bit after the interviewer stated that "Jordania was furious that the greatest talent at that time was sold." The months of July and August of this year were the only times that van Aanholt could reasonably be considered Vitesse's "greatest talent." Tomás Kalas returned to Chelsea at the conclusion of Vitesse's 2012-2013 campaign and the paperwork was finalised on Marco van Ginkel's paperwork on 4 July. Lucas Piazón was sent to Vitesse in August, and while he has surely supplanted van Aanholt as Vitesse's best player, he didn't do so until the Eredivisie season began and he started playing matches (this is not a knock on van Aanholt, of course, but simply a recognition of the fact that Piazón has quickly established himself as one of the best players in the Eredivisie).

Since this summer, however, quite a bit has changed for van Aanholt. Not only did he earn his first senior international cap and become a father, according to @chelseayouth, van Aanholt has developed into "a bastion of consistency" and "a physically capable full-back who is very much at home in the modern age of players in his position" (as an aside, I'm looking forward to the day when to BvA, Baby van Aanholt, starts training at Cobham with Josh Turnbull).

Given that van Aanholt has continued to improve, even if he wasn't in Chelsea's future plans five months ago, there's no reason to think that he doesn't have every opportunity to force his way into said plans by continuing to play exceptionally well at Vitesse and earning a spot in Louis van Gaal's World Cup squad this summer. I think that most of us would love to see van Aanholt get the opportunity to earn a place in the first team next season, and if he does get that opportunity and makes the most of it, both he and the Chelsea supporters will owe a debt of gratitude to Merab Jordania for being such a believer in van Aanholt's talent.

Dutch Chelsea fan Mark Will Stinson was invaluable in helping me make sense of what proved to be a very strange interview, and he and I will have much more on Jordania's "exit interview" later in the week.

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