Chelsea have today confirmed that a deal has been reached to sign the Dutch youngster Marco Van Ginkel, subject to personal terms and a medical.
The central midfielder played a huge role in guiding Vitesse to 5th in their domestic league, their highest finish for 15 years, which also saw him named the Eredivisie young player of the year. He is now set to become Mourinho’s second signing since Andre Schurrle, and a statement on Chelsea’s website reads:
[quote]Chelsea Football Club and Vitesse Arnhem have reached an agreement for the transfer of Marco van Ginkel. The player will join Chelsea subject to a medical, agreement of personal terms and legal documentation.[/quote]
For the past few seasons Chelsea have held a strong and productive relationship with Vitesse Arnhem, using them as a destination for their young talents to develop in. Tomas Kalas, Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta are among the Chelsea youngsters who have spent time playing with Marco van Ginkel – or MVG as his abbreviation has come to be known as – and it seems that whilst keeping an eye on their own players, the Chelsea scouts have also picked up on the ability of the Dutch midfielder.
At 20 years old van Ginkel certainly commands a strong physical presence at 6’1”, and might most accurately be described in a single term as a box-to-box midfielder. That said, while a player like Ramires may take advantage of his stamina, pace and general athleticism in making an impact on a game, van Ginkel also has a very strong range of passing.
He may have an above-average amount of acceleration and pace for a central midfielder, but he isn’t one to rely on just (or mostly) that. He has a certain Spanish philosophy to him in that he doesn’t tend to hold onto the ball for too long or take many touches, and instead prefers to look straight away for the next pass and move the ball on. Unlike Ramires – if I continue to compare him to the Brazilian – his first touch and final ball do not let him down, and his ability to play the ball forward directly to the team mate or as a through ball is arguably the strongest part of his game; something that is vital for a deep lying midfielder.
On to the stats. In 33 appearances for Vitesse, van Ginkel scored 8 goals from 49 shots and achieved a chance conversion of 16%. Along with his goal threat, he also proved to be extremely creative. He fashioned a total of 36 chances for his team, and had 8 assists by the end of the season to show for it. Just to prove his capacity for passing, he had an 86% pass accuracy, bettered only by Mikel in the Chelsea central midfield (88%).
If the stats so far lead you to believe that he is by and large an attacking player, there is also statistical evidence to prove that he contributes defensively. Indeed he attempted 81 tackles over the course of the season and won 78% of them. All in all he is very much a complete player, at least in the sense that he is not obviously weak in any particular part of his game. All he can do at his young age is try to improve and perfect himself as an all-rounder. A comparison with Ramires and Lampard will prove van Ginkle to be the ‘complete’ player that I claim he is.
Ramires – 28 (7) Appearances
I’ve already compared Ramires to van Ginkel a little, but there is more to be said. Defensively the former is very effective, and this is largely due to the engine inside him that his seen him attempt 112 tackles this season, impressive for a player whose duties are not wholly defensive. His tackle completion was 75.89%, a little lower than van Ginkel though still admirable.
Again slightly lower than van Ginkel, he has a pass success of 84%. His passing is not as dangerous to the opposition though since he only created 20 chances, 1 of which was an assist. Furthermore, from 25 shots he scored 5 goals and had a chance conversion of 30%, which is his only stat that is significantly higher than van Ginkel’s.
Lampard – 21 (8) Appearances
Lampard was not as much use in defence as either Ramires or van Ginkel, attempting on 36 tackles. However he did complete 75% of those. Some might also be surprised to discover that his passing accuracy was also lower than both Ramires and van Ginkel at 80% (although this is still a good figure). Although he created 31 chances, like Ramires he only provided 1 assist.
It is in his goal-scoring ability that Lampard truly excels, as he has always done. It is certainly a compliment to say that his 15 goals in the league were lower than what might have been expected of him given the last decade. He scored these with 53 shots and a 28% chance conversion.
Van Ginkel is statistically somewhere in between the strengths of Ramires and Lampard. He doesn’t score as much as Lampard – but then again, what midfielder does? – and due to Ramires’ superior number of attempted tackles I would argue he is not quite as strong defensively as the Brazilian.
Both Ramires and Lampard have areas of their game that are particularly strong, but van Ginkel’s greatest strength is that he has no obvious weaknesses. Moreover the only area in which van Ginkel is obviously behind the other two is in his chance conversion, which is less important to a central midfielder and will improve in time anyway.
When you take both van Ginkel’s assists and goals into account, he has been directly involved in just as many goals as Lampard, and 10 more than Ramires. In this way, despite the fact that Lampard clearly scored more goals, van Ginkel is arguably more effective going forward; given his tackle completion percentage one could even make the argument that he is stronger in defence than Ramires.
Some may claim that a player coming from the Dutch league is not as good as he may seem to be because he only excelled in a weaker league. I don’t believe in the “weaker league” argument though, because some of the best talents have come from smaller leagues (Portugal, France and Holland too), and if you look at the strength of the Dutch national team, many of their best players began their professional career in Holland.
Van Ginkel is very much the complete midfielder, and expect him to play a role at Chelsea despite his age. Mourinho may have a reputation for not involving youth enough, but that was during a time in which he was moving from club to club, whereas now he has made it clear that he intends to occupy the Chelsea manager’s role for a long spell.
In his first press conference Mourinho also directly spoke of his intention to involve youth. Indeed he referred to many of the youth team and those players on loan as ‘investments’ that were now ready to pay off. If that were not enough he is a Mourinho signing, whether or not it was himself of the club who identified him. He would not have signed for Chelsea if Mourinho didn’t want him to, and so I would expect that van Ginkel will be part of his plans.
[box_light]All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]