In Vincent Janssen the Dutch are hoping they have identified a player who in the long-run is capable of replacing the likes of Van Persie and Huntelaar in the national team. The AZ Alkmaar forward recorded 27 goals in his first season in the Eredevisie and made his senior team debut off the bench versus France before starting and scoring against England a few days later.
Janssen’s performances have seen him recognised as the Dutch Football Talent of the Year with the 2015-2016 Johan Cruyff trophy. In short, he’s seen as a pretty big deal right now and a big talent for the future. However, caution must be employed. As good as his accomplishments are this season he need not look any further than Memphis Depay to realise the Johan Cruyff trophy doesn’t mean you are set to be the new Johan Cruyff!
When Depay was awarded the Johan Cruyff Trophy last season the world was at his feet. The Dutch dazzler was seen as one of the top young talents in the world of football and he was being monitored by the biggest clubs in the world. Eventually he decided to reunite with Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United and let’s just say things have not worked out so far.
“AZ is fantastic, but if you have the opportunity to take the next step…then that’s what you should do as a sportsman.” Patrick van Dieman (Janssen’s agent)
“It is clear that something is going to happen. It would be strange that no club would want to sign me after such a season. I’m in a good position, obviously. But I only pick up my phone for a club with the right picture.”
In the present Janssen is now facing a similar situation. Big clubs are watching and AZ will struggle to keep hold of him. Both Janssen and his agent have hinted he is ready to move on and he should have no shortage of offers. Manchester United, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Wolfsburg and the Dutch giants of Ajax and PSV are all credited with having interest.
His statistics this season suggest he’s more than just an old fashioned number 9. In 34 games he’s scored 27 goals (with a 23.7% conversion rate) and registered 4 assists from 56 chances created. His two main strengths are his finishing and his ability to hold up play. He’s regularly compared to Ruud van Nistelrooy due to his impressive instincts inside the penalty box but this is a player who can potentially offer more than the former United legend. He’s capable of linking play in the final third as his chance creation stat shows you and while he is not blessed with the pace of Gareth Bale he does display a decent change of pace and is capable of beating a player.
Potential suitors will have some concerns though. Firstly, it remains to be seen whether someone with one year of experience in the Eredivisie is ready for the step up to one of Europe’s bigger leagues. Secondly, it has to be noted that performing for AZ is not exactly the same as performing for PSV or Ajax. Besides the lack of experience his main weakness on the field is his movement off the ball. The timing of his runs into space are haphazard and as a result of this he frequently is caught in an offside position. His negatives are few though and with the right guidance he can be moulded into the next top Dutch forward.
It’s clear Janssen has a big decision to make this summer. If he does leave AZ then he must ensure he joins a team that not only fits him stylistically but one that also gives opportunities to play consistently and thus continue his impressive development. The question now is, who offers him the best fit?