With the Eredivisie is currently on winter break, Vitesse planned to conduct winter training this week in in Abu Dhabi, capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The club had scheduled friendlies against Bundesliga clubs VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburger SV in order to stay fit and focused on the second half of the season.
However, the trip began on an extremely disappointing note, as the UAE government revoked backup centre-back Dan Mori's visa at the last minute. Mori is from Israel, and the UAE, like most Arab states do not recognise Israel. Shamefully, the Emirati government, as it is wont to do, decided to turn a sporting event into a political issue. Needless to say, Vitesse was furious, but on Mori's blessing, decided to make the most of an extremely disappointing situation and went ahead with their training schedule. I go into further detail here if you're interested, and now, it's time to talk about the football.
Bertrand Traoré debuts, Vitesse beats Wolfsburg 3-2
Lucas Piazon, Bertrand Traoré, and Christian Atsu all started the first half in Vitesse's 3-2 win (Vitesse was leading 3-0 until the 83rd minute, and the match wasn't as close as the scoreline might indicate). Vitesse played their backup goalkeeper and the club made nine substitutions at the half (Patrick van Aanholt played the second half).
Traoré had a nice debut, making an excellent pass through the Wolfsburg defence to set Piazon up for a goal.
Match highlights start around 2:15 and you can see Traoré set up Lucas Piazon's goal at around 3:20.
Some photos of Traoré in the black and yellow
Captain Guram Kashia officially welcomes Traoré to the team.
As an aside, Kashia (who is the reigning Georgian footballer of the year and also captains the national team) appears to possess the leadership qualities of John Terry and the personality of David Luiz. Obviously a winning combination, Kashia appears to be the heart of the team.
Traoré hanging out with Patrick van Aanholt at training
Vitesse signs a striker, takes a non-Blue on loan
In an attempt to bolster its squad for the second half push, Vitesse has been very active during the first nine days of the January transfer window.
In addition to bringing in Traoré, Vitesse also signed 19-year-old Serbian striker Uros Durdevic from FK Rad Belgrade. At a glance (which is all I can provide, given that I didn't know Durdevic existed until the other day), he seems like a depth signing with an eye to the future. I think if they were planning to let an untested youngster play significant minutes, they probably could have convinced Chelsea to send them Patrick Bamford.
If you're interested in seeing a bit of Durdevic, Vitesse posted a video of him training with the goalkeepers and one of the coaches while the rest of the team went on a field trip.
Vitesse also agreed to take winger Zakaria Labyad from Sporting CP on an eighteen-month loan. The 20-year-old grew up in PSV's youth system and made 45 appearances in the first team before being transferred to Portugal prior to the 2012-2013 season. He made 20 appearances and scored twice in his first season, but hasn't played a single minute this season, despite apparently being fit.
I would be shocked if he took playing time away from any of the Chelsea loanees, and it seems like this another signing for the future. If one of the Cobham East midfielders get recalled back to to Stamford Bridge or sent elsewhere on loan, Labyad will have already been training with the club, which will help with the transition.
Vitesse resumes its Eredivisie campaign on 18 January, and we'll be providing tons of coverage. Along those lines, we now have a dedicated hub for all things Vitesse, so be sure to give that a look if you find yourself wanting a bit more black and yellow in your life.
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