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Chelsea / Vitesse Roundup: 9 April 2014

Paul Meima | Vitesse

Coming off two consecutive draws and with only four matches remaining on the calendar, Vitesse is still jockeying for position on the Eredivisie table and trying to give itself the best possible shot at seeing a group stage in European competition next season.

As you can see, Vitesse is currently in fourth place and level on points with PSV with just four matches to go. Fortunately, they have a game in hand on Feyenoord, Twente, and PSV. A few weeks ago, we took a look at how Vitesse's final position in the Eredivisie table affects their prospects for European competition next season, but it's worth reiterating again.

The Eredivisie title is already out of reach, but if Vitesse can pull off a miracle and finish in second place, they will earn a spot in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

If the club finishes in third place, it will earn a spot in the play-off round of the Europa League. If Vitesse finishes in fourth, it will enter the Europa League during the third qualifying round.

If Vitesse finishes in fifth, the club would be forced to compete in a play-off with the 6th, 7th, and 8th placed teams to determine which Eredivisie club gets a spot in the second qualifying round of the Europa League. This is a situation Vitesse would likely want to avoid, at it leaves virtually no summer break in between seasons.

Champions League football is likely out of reach, but the Europa League is a great consolation prize for Vitesse, and the club will want to finish in third place to make the path to the group stage as easy as possible.

As in recent weeks, we have the good fortune of reproducing the Vitesse portions of the always-excellent match reports that @chelseayouth puts out every week (the full report can be accessed here) -

Over in Holland on Sunday lunchtime, Vitesse Arnhem faced their biggest test for many a week as they took on Eredivisie leaders Ajax at the Gelredome. An Ajax win combined with a Feyenoord defeat would have secured a fourth straight league title for the Amsterdam club, whilst a defeat for Vitesse would likely have ended any hopes of automatic qualification for the Europa League.

The points were shared in an entertaining 1-1 draw as Vitesse played as well as they have in 2014; led by two Chelsea youngsters in Bertrand Traore and Christian Atsu. The African duo terrorised Ajax in the first half and linked up tremendously to great effect on numerous occasions. Traore scored for the second week in a row but both players (amongst others) had great chances to put their team out of sight before half time. They didn’t take them though, and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson grabbed an equaliser early in the second half.

Patrick van Aanholt started at left-back ahead of Rochdi Achenteh for the first time since February and whilst he didn’t have the best game of his career, he did more good than bad and was typically positive going forward. Lucas Piazon played the last ten minutes from the bench due to not being 100% fit following a recent ankle injury.

Stats from past two matches

  • Patrick van Aanholt - 2 starts, 180 minutes played, 0 goals, 0 assists
  • Christian Atsu - 2 starts, 162 minutes played, 0 goals, 1 assist
  • Bertrand Traore - 1 start, 118 minutes played, 2 goals, 0 assists
  • Lucas Piazon - 1 start, 97 minutes played, 0 goals, 0 assists
Patrick van Aanholt has finally regained his spot in the VItesse starting eleven, and in keeping with Vitesse's style, he's been good offensively and iffy defensively since returning to the pitch.

Christian Atsu continues to shine, and he and goalkeeper Piet Velthuizen have easily been Vitesse's most consistent players this season. He's demonstrated the valuable ability to rotate seamlessly between all three positions in the attack behind the striker. While he is clearly best on the left wing, he's played centrally for most of the season and moved over to the right in the match against Heerenveen to make room for Lucas Piazon.

Piazon played the full ninety during the 2-2 draw against Heerenveen, but picked up an ankle injury and was limited to a late cameo in the Ajax match. Thankfully, it doesn't appear to be serious, or else Piazon wouldn't have set foot on the pitch at all.

While Atsu, Piazon, and van Aanholt have all been solid over the past two weeks, Bertrand Traore has shined the brightest. The young Burkinabe scored his first-ever professional club goal against Hereenveen and followed it up with an encore against Ajax. If you listen to manager Peter Bosz and CEO Joost de Wit, of all the Chelsea loanees, it is Traore that they're most excited about.

This is no small praise, considering how accomplished his fellow Blues are, and over the past two weeks, it's been easy to see why Bosz and De Wit are so high on Traore.

Match highlights

Far be it for me to question the decision-making of the Vitesse video department, but I thought it curious that the 1-1 draw against Ajax received the full Sfeerverslag treatment, but the 2-2 draw against Heerenveen was reduced to Terugblik status. Whatever, they're both fantastic.

I've mentioned this before, but Chelsea really needs to find a way to bring the Vitesse video team to the Premier League on loan next season. Or, maybe Chelsea can send the current video team to Arnhem to develop and learn from these wizards. Chelsea could certainly do with some Sfeerverslag of its own next season, so lets figure out how to make this happen and get it done.

1-1 draw against Ajax

2-2 draw against Heerenveen

Bertrand Traore on scoring his first goal

Around the 2:02 mark of the video, you can watch Bertrand Trraore rush through a question about scoring his first-ever professional club goal, discuss on the fact that they weren't able to win the match, and then quickly turn the page to focus on the next match (in which he scored again).

I would think most eighteen-year-olds wouldn't be able to contain their excitement about scoring their first goal, but Traore appears to be extremely squared away.

While he'll need a bit of time before he can start making contributions to the Chelsea first team, he's got all the potential to get there eventually, and it should be a lot of fun watching him develop.

More nonsense from Merab Jordania

Merab Jordania has lost every last shred of credibility and trustworthiness over the past few weeks, but we'll continue to report any outlandish claims he makes for the sole purpose of explaining why they can immediately be dismissed as fiction.

In an interview with Voetbal International earlier this week, Jordania claimed that Wolsburg offered €15m (around £12.4m) for Marco van Ginkel. He further claimed that he was forced to sell van Ginkel for the £8.3m Chelsea ended up paying for him.

Here's why this is a ridiculous claim -

Chelsea is not exactly known for thriftiness in the transfer market. Had Wolfsburg actually made that offer, Chelsea almost certainly would've matched it. For perspective, adding £4.1m to a transfer fee when a player signs a five-year deal (as van Ginkel did) amounts to an extra £820,000 per year (or 0.3% of Chelsea's FY13 revenue). It makes zero sense for Chelsea to exert this type of influence, which would likely lead to trouble with UEFA down the road, over what amounts to the loose change in Roman Abramobich's couch.

Further, neither Wolfsburg, nor van Ginkel, nor van Ginkel's agents, have ever any made mention of this before. None of the three parties would have anything to lose by making this information public if it were true. In fact, van Ginkel's agency firm was extremely candid with regards to the circumstances of van Ginkel's transfer -

"In Dutch terms, the package that Ajax put forward [for van Ginkel] was a great deal of money. The player wanted to go to Ajax and not to another club. The amount of money that Vitesse would have got was not far from the Chelsea sum, so it wasn't a big difference. But because Chelsea have a huge grip on Vitesse, pressure was put onto the player. They wanted him." - Rob Jansen

Van Ginkel's representatives had no problem discussing the fact that Chelsea has the right of first refusal when it comes to Vitesse players. Further, given that they went as far to opine that Ajax would have been the better move for van Ginkel's development, but Vitesse refused to negotiate with Ajax given that Chelsea had declared its interest in him, it seems clear that had Wolsburg shown any interest and were willing to pay 50% more, van Ginkel's agents would have mentioned it.

So, yeah, this is most likely total nonsense.

Jordania also claimed that he's trying to form an investment group to buy Vitesse and take back control. Good luck with that, champ. Vitesse is not a public company nor does it have extraorindary amounts of debt. So, unless Alexander Chigirinsky is willing to sell his shares (extremely unlikely), there's little Jordania can do to force his way back to the table at Vitesse, regardless of how much money he raises.

ICYMI: Required Reading

Matt Barlow spent some time in Arnhem talking to just about everyone at Vitesse, and the result was a truly excellent article. It came out a few weeks ago, and I somehow forgot to mention his article in the recent roundups. If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend it, as it contains some new insights into how the Chelsea players are developing at Cobham East.

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