sc Heerenveen: Sixes and sevens, year in year out
Heerenveen could field a title-challenging team had they kept all their top players over the last few seasons. This time out, goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt found a new home in Swansea, Marten de Roon moved to Bergamo to play for Atalanta and Mark Uth returned to German shores to play for Hoffenheim. With their Player of the Year, their captain and their top goalscorer gone, sc Heerenveen face another challenging summer in which they have to rebuild their team in order to follow up last season’s seventh place.
As usual, the basis for a good season is there. Kristoffer Nordfeldt has been replaced by former Feyenoord goalie Erwin Mulder. With left back Caner Cavlan coming in from De Graafschap competition in that area has been increased. And the 19 year old midfielder Branco van den Boomen from FC Eindhoven should add to their already exciting contingent of youngsters. In general, Heerenveen has been a hotbed of talent over the last few years and this season again, they are looking to excite. With Joey van den Berg the only player anywhere near 30, there is re-sale value in almost every player. With central defender Joost van Aken rapidly improving the Frisians have probably found their most talented defender since Petter Hansson. And Swedish winger Sam Larsson (22) has been so commanding this calendar year that he has already been touted for a move to a bigger club.
However, the biggest concern is the striker position. After years and years of Tomasson, Van Nistelrooij, Afonso Alves, Huntelaar, Dost, Finnbogason and last season Uth, a long line of fine striking talent, admittedly to various degrees of quality, exists at the club from ‘het Friesche Haagje’. The emergence of the latter was a surprise to some, but at least he had shown some kind of promise the season before on loan at Heracles. This time out, manager Dwight Lodeweges has announced that for now, he will rely on Oranje u-19 striker Pelle van Amersfoort – who disappointingly doesn’t look like Graziano Pellè and isn’t from Amersfoort –, former Jupiler League sensation Henk Veerman and Pascal Huser. All three are unproven at the highest level and will look to defy expectations. Are we due another goalscoring sensation in Abe Lenstra Stadion?
Player to watch: Jerry St. Juste
Enough fireworks are to be expected from Sam Larsson and Luciano Slagveer in attack. No doubt Simon Thern will develop further, adding a bit of guile to the midfield of the Frisians. But the player we’re really excited by is a defender. Jerry St. Juste, an 18 year old centre back born in Groningen but nurtured at the Heerenveen academy, looks the part. Having made his debut earlier this year and instantly holding down his place in the starting line-up, St. Juste has won many admirers through his composed play and tenacity.
Even though he is not the tallest of defenders he has the pace to make up ground when needed and reads situations well, especially for such an unexperienced player. Pundit of Fox Sports and former Danish international Kenneth Perez has been waxing lyrical about the youngster while his youth coaches have labelled him ‘the new Rijkaard’. A lot of pressure for the kid, but at BeNeFoot we think he definitely is something special.
BeNeFoot prediction: 7th