Bruno Martins Indi: Made for the Premier League
Although young and still developing and improving, Feyenoord centre-back Bruno Martins Indi is clearly a player made for the Premier League.
In a tough, physical league, the 22-year-old possesses the strength, pace and tackling ability required to thrive in the English top flight, as well as good aerial and technical ability.
At such a young age, he has done well to cement himself as a crucial player for club and country, having spent three and a half years in the Feyenoord first team and received 14 caps for the Netherlands national team to be almost guaranteed a place in the starting XI in this year’s World Cup.
However, there was a period in which he was not expected to go far at all in his professional career. Martins Indi has been with Feyenoord since he was 13-years-old, joining the same youth team as centre-back partner for club and country Stefan de Vrij. In his early days at the club’s famous Varkenoord youth academy, he was not rated too highly compared to some of his teammates at the time. However, through his determination, work rate and physical and mental growth, he quickly developed into one of the standout performers in the youth teams of the Rotterdam club.
Martins Indi was soon promoted into the first-team for the 2010-11 campaign and made his debut in the Europa League qualifier against KAA Gent in De Kuip at just 17-years-old. The following weekend, the defender was in the starting line-up for his first Eredivisie match as his side drew 1-1 with Excelsior. He would then go on to make a further 14 league appearances that year as the club finished in a disappointing tenth place.
The following season, however, new coach Ronald Koeman made the young defender a first-team regular. Martins Indi showed his versatility throughout that season, as he played often as a left-back and other times in the centre, partnering captain Ron Vlaar. His strong performances played a key role in Feyenoord’s fantastic achievement of finishing second in the league. It was something no one expected of the club suffering from severe financial problems.
His first full season as a regular starter for the Rotterdam powerhouse was a success for himself and the team, but off the field things were great too – he became a father in March, as his girlfriend gave birth to their daughter, Zoë Miliana.
Although the Portuguese-born defender didn’t make the Netherlands Euro 2012 squad, he was immediately brought into the team by new Oranje coach Louis van Gaal after the nation’s disastrous showing in Poland and Ukraine. The youngster made his international debut in the 4-2 defeat to Belgium and from then on he has been a key member of the Dutch backline, starting in eight of the 10 2014 World Cup Qualifying matches as well as the friendlies against Germany, Italy France, Portugal and Ecuador. His reputation was boosted even more as, having shown his defensive ability at international level, he showed he can be productive at the other end as he scored in each of Oranje’s 4-1 wins over Romania and Hungary. He was also included in the Netherlands U21 for the European Championships last summer, starting three of the four games Holland played.
He has become one of the key defenders for Van Gaal’s men and his club coach believes he has a long career ahead of him with the national team: “He could be Oranje’s first-choice left-back for the next 10 years,” Koeman said, and few could disagree with that prediction.
Martins Indi has continued to jump between the the left side of defence and the centre at Feyenoord while Van Gaal has preferred to play him in the heart of the back line. The youngster has said he feels more comfortable in the middle, but when called upon to play as a full-back, he has fulfilled the role very well. On that side he shows his strength and puts his pace and tackling ability to good use, making sure the defence is secure.
The 2013-14 campaign hasn’t been a great one for the man born in Barreiro. The Pride of the South narrowly missed out on winning the title, finishing four points behind Ajax, to whom they lost twice. BMI’s defensive stats are nothing special, but they are positive. He maintained a duel success rate of 59%, won 74% of tackles, made 30 interceptions, 8 blocks and completed 87% of his passes. However, for a young player still developing, he is moving in the right direction and making great progress.
This summer’s World Cup will give him great experience and allow him to impress a few top teams across Europe.
Van Gaal rates him very highly and as a result of the coach being confirmed as the new Manchester United boss, the defender has been linked to the Old Trafford club.
Koeman’s departure and the development of Martins Indi, De Vrij and Clasie has paved the way for all of them to head for the exit and advance their careers. While De Vrij is reportedly close to a move to Lazio, clubs across Europe should be looking at Martins Indi if they are in the market for a versatile, strong and tall defender with a lot to offer and great potential and he’ll be a great signing for any team in the English league looking to bolster their back line.