" I want to become a regular in the Dutch national team, and in order to do so, I have to learn how to deal with pressure and play against better opponents. A move seems to be the perfect solution, whether it’s a domestic move or a foreign move is not clear yet."
Chelsea have been using Vitesse Arnhem as a place to develop their young talent for several season's now, and because of that, I've been watching an awful lot of Vitesse games over the course of the past several seasons. While watching, I've generally focused on the Chelsea players involved with the Eredivisie squad, as those are the ones I was tuning in to see in the first place. That said, there have been several Vitesse players that have also caught my eye, and Marco van Ginkel is right at the top of that list.
I'm not alone in rating van Ginkel very highly though, as Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal also appears to rate the Dutch youngster. Van Gaal gave Marco his Netherlands first team debut this past winter, against their traditional rivals from Germany no less. He'll likely be one of the Netherlands' key players in the upcoming UEFA U21 Championships, which begin on June 5*.
At some point this past spring, Graham was working on something with some of the other SB Nation soccer staff and van Ginkel came up in that discussion (for what it's worth, it turned out that it wasn't Chelsea related at all). Graham shot me a quick message asking me my opinion of the player, knowing that I watch Vitesse every week. Having no idea why he was asking, my response went something like this:
HOLY @&^$!!! DID WE @*%&ING SIGN VAN GINKEL? DID YOU FIND OUT WE SIGNED VAN @#%&ING GINKEL? HOLY @*#^ YES!!! #*^@ING YES!!! VAN GINKEL IS @*#^ING AWESOME!!! HOLY @$#&!!! YES!!! YES!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!
I may be paraphrasing a bit there, but I think you get the point. Needless to say, I didn't add much to the discussion other than a general sense of excitement about something that hadn't actually happened. I think it's clear enough that I like the kid a lot though, so much so that he is already written into my Summer Shopping Spree.
So what type of player is van Ginkel? If you put a gun to my head and forced me to sum him up in one word, I'd end up using "complete". He's one of those players that you can totally miss when watching a game, but if you really pay attention to what he's doing, you can't help but come away impressed.
Van Ginkel turned 20 years old this past January, and made his Vitesse debut at the age of 17. He's got good size, standing a bit over 6'1" tall (186 cm). I certainly wouldn't describe him as exceptionally strong right now, but you can clearly see that he's added some bulk over the past several years and it's not hard to see him looking a bit like Michael Ballack in terms of build when he reaches his mid-20's.
He runs fairly well, and certainly possesses above average pace and acceleration for a player deployed in the center of the pitch. He's also shown the ability to run non-stop for 90 minutes, a particularly useful trait for a player that seems to come directly out of the Frank Lampard/Steven Gerrard school of midfielding. All in all, he's pretty much the physical prototype for a world class central midfielder.
Technically, van Ginkel doesn't leave a whole lot to be desired either. He's not the flashiest, but he's got an excellent range of passing and is fairly comfortable with the ball at his feet. He moves the ball quickly, not taking multiple touches after receiving the ball very often. He doesn't dribble into the attacking third very often, preferring to collect the ball and quickly move it to a teammate.
The weighting of his passes is one of the most impressive parts of his game. He excels at sliding balls into the path of running teammates, something that has been badly missed in the Chelsea pivot for the majority of the past several seasons.
Speaking of the pivot, van Ginkel would be ideally suited to that role. For a young player that grew up learning to play as a wing or attacking midfielder, he's shown a tremendous amount of positional discipline and defensive awareness. His tackling has come a long way over the past season and a half, and he's got a knack for stepping into passing lanes and quickly starting the counter after intercepting the ball.
His attacking roots tend to show a bit when Vitesse are in possession, as he loves to make the patented "Frank Lampard late run into the box". He's a quality finisher as well, as his eight goals this season from a deep lying midfield position would certainly indicate.
Speaking of his goals, you might be interested in watching them:
One of the interesting things to note when watching that compilation is how he's moved into a deeper role over the course of the past several years. He's a versatile player, having played as a lone-holder, as part of a pivot, as a wing, as a #10, and even as a center forward during his Vitesse career. The only one of those roles in which he struggled was in his attempt to replace Wilfried Bony in the center of the attack, so unfortunately we'll still have to find someone else to replace Fernando Torres.
The rumored price I've been hearing is only €10 million, which actually makes me scratch my head a bit. The player is one of the better young midfielders in Europe, and has been linked to tons of different clubs. It's worth noting that Everton were very interested in adding him this past January, with (current Manchester United manager) David Moyes taking in quite a few Vitesse games in person.
The source of today's news, Duncan Castles, can be pretty hit and miss. He's got his clubs that he tends to be very accurate with, but Chelsea have never been on that list. That said, there's a very obvious connection between Vitesse and Chelsea, so it's clear that they've seen a lot of the kid in the past. Van Ginkel is young enough to fit the recent transfer policy, fills a position of need, has world-class potential, and is on the verge of breaking out in a big way. This deal makes an awful lot of sense, even if the price that Castles is mentioning seems like it's quite a bit below his value.
I'd be absolutely thrilled if his report turned out to be true, even if Chelsea had to shell out a little more than €10 million to secure his services. Marco van Ginkel is awesome, and he'd be a perfect fit at Chelsea.