Lucas Piazon won't be returning to Vitesse next season, according to a report from De Gelderlander.
The twenty-year-old winger started the season on a blistering pace, scoring an unbelievable 11 goals and 8 assists in a twelve-game period between September and December. He quickly asserted himself as the best player in the Eredivisie and literally became the face of Vitesse.
After his amazing performance in the Gelderse derby in which he scored the winning goal, in addition to showing why one does not simply try to get past Lucas Piazon (see below), he was rewarded by the Vitesse faithful with his own banner.
After the club returned from the winter break, however, things went a bit downhill for Piazon, and he didn't record a single goal or assist during the last four and a half months of the season.
Of the sixteen Eredivisie matches after the winter break, Piazon played in thirteen and started eight. Over the last ten matches of the season, Piazon was only in the starting eleven twice and saw 288 total minutes on the pitch.
It should be noted that Piazon only got those two starts because Renato Ibarra picked up a suspension.
There has been speculation that Bosz and Piazon had a falling out, but neither I nor the people close to the club who I've spoken with give any credence to these rumours. Bosz has gone on record heaping significant praise on Piazon, crediting his work ethic (he was asked to gain some weight this season and put on 4.5 kilos, all of which is muscle, according to Bosz) his technical skills, and his intelligence.
Bosz also believes that he has a ton of potential and believes Piazon can go as far as he wants to go.
CEO Joost de Wit is also a fan of Piazon, and spoke to both his talent and his ability to so quickly endear himself to the Vitesse supporters.
Why, then, did Piazon drop off?
He was seemingly healthy for most of the season -- he did pick up an ankle injury during the first week in April and was limited in training for a few days, but it didn't appear to be serious.
I think the grind of the season caught up with him, and he just wore down a bit. He only just turned twenty years old, and this is the first season where he's been asked to play ninety minutes week in and week out. The Eredivisie is a particularly high-tempo league and he likely just needs a bit more time to adjust to playing at that type of pace.
This should go without saying, but Piazon is not to blame for Vitesse's struggles during the second half of the season. The fact that Piazon was the club's leading scorer despite not having scored since December should tell you everything you need to know about Vitesse's dire striker situation. In addition, save for Christian Atsu and Piet Velthuizen, no one really stepped up during the second half of the season.
Lastly, the club's defending has been suspect, at best, and I fully expect that Chelsea will send Vitesse some defensive help next season as well as a player or two that can put the ball into the back of the net.
Despite his struggles on the pitch, Piazon remained extremely positive and professional off the pitch. He seemingly embraced his role as an ambassador for the club and actively participated in many of Vitesse's community outreach events.
Fortunately, Piazon will end the season on a positive note, as he was recently selected to the Brazil U21 team that will compete in the Toulon tournament from 21 May - 1 June. This is Piazon's first international call-up in almost three years, and is a good sign that the powers that be in Brazil realise how much potential he has.
Piazon is the fifth Chelsea player to be called into service by Brazil this week, as David Luiz, Oscar, Ramires, and Willian were named to the World Cup squad on Wednesday.
As far as what's next for Piazon, another loan is likely in the cards. The Championship would be a bit of a step down from the Eredivisie, but he's probably not ready to earn significant minutes at a club like Everton. Perhaps he'll be loaned to a smaller Premier League side, and he does have an Italian passport, and while this might be reaching a bit, perhaps he could end up in Serie A.
We'll be sure to keep you apprised of the latest developments with Piazon, so be sure to stay tuned to WAGNH.
We'll also be interviewing Juni at The Chels in the near future, who will provide insights on how Chelsea could influence next year's Vitesse squad. Juni is likely the world's foremost expert on Chelsea's youngsters and runs the ever-popular @chelseayouth account on Twitter, so keep an eye out for that.
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