Eredivisie preview FC Twente – Reliant on the youngsters to do the trick
Losing the league’s best player in Dusan Tadic is one thing, but also seeing the other creative force in Quincy Promes leave is another. FC Twente have been rigorous on all fronts this summer and a big question mark remains surrounding the true strength of the team that was Eredivisie champions only four years ago. With the leave of experienced heads such as Peter Wisgerhof, Wout Brama, Roberto Rosales and Sander Boschker only FC Twente have lost a total of over 1300 league appearances. Different times at the club of the East, after seeing talents like Eljero Elia, Luuk de Jong, Nacer Chadli and Ola John passing by over the last few years. With the departure of the previously named duo of Promes and Tadic, who were responsible for a combined 45 league goals of 72 for Twente last season, a whole new challenge arises for FC Twente. After steadying the ship last season after a few
FC Twente’s squad might not carry Promes this season, it does carry a lot promise. With a total of ten players leaving, Robbert Schilder and Rasmus Bengtsson (both 28) are now the old guard together with Tim Breukers and Andreas Bjelland (both 26), the rest is 24 or younger. FC Twente have added defender Darryl Lachman of PEC Zwolle despite competition from Bundesliga and Premier League clubs and central midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo is expected to join him from the current Cup holders. Big things are expected from Danish attacker Kasper Kusk, who impressed at Aalborg BK last season. But apart from those three signings, FC Twente relies on its youth and in that, on its young but talented new manager, Alfred Schreuder. Schreuder already was the assistant last manager after finishing 2012/13 as interim for Steve McClaren, but due to not having his coaching license yet, Michel Jansen was brought in to steady the ship. A deserved third place was their part in the end, earning a Europa League spot and impressing from time to time with fluid football, but after the bridge year, it was time for Schreuder to take over, with Jansen stepping back and taking up a role as head of youth development.
And in the end it is the youth system where FC Twente will hope to get their big break form. Bilal Ould-Chikh made his debut last season age 16 and will be hoping for a few extra chances the coming season. Ghanaian midfielder Shadrach Eghan (19) made quite an impact last season but saw his impressive rise cut back due to injury. Furthermore, Torgeir Børven had already been brought in last January to challenge Luc Castaignos for the striker position and big things are expected from Mexican winger Jesus Corona, who is still only 21 but has had a season to adapt to Dutch life and football. Youness Mokhtar (22) came to Twente from PEC Zwolle last September and after a year of settling in, he will most likely be trusted to bring back a spark of excitement that Promes and Tadic have taken with them on their way to foreign competition.
But the biggest burden for the upcoming season surely lies on Luc Castaignos. Once named ‘the Dutch Thierry Henry’, due to his French roots but also due to his qualities, has struggled ever since he left Feyenoord for Internazionale only age 18. Castaignos is still only 22 and has had two seasons of respectively 13 and 14 league goals behind him, but if he wants to fulfil his early promise this surely is the season for him to prove that. Alfred Schreuder has announced he is looking to accommodate the strong and pacy striker a bit more by playing more of a transitional game and that should suit the Schiedam born a bit more. Last season he had two of the most wonderful wingers in the league accompanying him in attack, but where both preferred to cross from high up the field Castaignos has mainly showed his predatory instincts when he was launched from his own half, tussling with defenders and beating them on pace and power. If Schreuder succeeds in his set-up Castaignos could become that decisive striker that Twente have been craving for since the departure of club legend Blaise Nkufo in 2010.
FC Twente did wonderful finishing 3rd last season but there was the feeling that the club had achieved under its means with the wonderful talent available. The defence has gotten a boost with the arrival of Darryl Lachman, the midfield has improved in both numbers and options with the arrival of Kamohelo Mokotjo adding to wonderful options such as the earlier mentioned Eghan, the talented box-to-box midfielder Kyle Ebecilio and inventive Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutierrez. It will be interesting to see how the attack develops, but with a more balanced squad, FC Twente could be looking to fulfil the promise that they showed last season already.
Player to watch: Shadrach Eghan
Shadrach Eghan kind of got lost after all of the impressive performances of Dusan Tadic and Quincy Promes last season, but the young Ghanaian was instrumental in the strong start FC Twente made last season. But as the other two went on to have a great season, Eghan faded. A year older, a year stronger he could well make an impact for FC Twente. He showed the skills needed to become one of FC Twente’s best players last season and with creativity lacking for now in the side from Enschede, this could be his time to step up. And that is exactly what we feel he is about to do.
BeNeFoot prediction: 3rd place.