Jordy Clasie: Feyenoord’s young architect
When thinking about the Eredivisie, one of the first names that spring to mind is Jordy Clasie. An integral part of an exciting Feyenoord side currently challenging Dutch giants Ajax, PSV and rising Vitesse Arnhem for the league title, the 21-year-old has become the subject of much speculation in recent months. The combative midfielder clearly has a bright future ahead of him and, as he continues to thrive in Netherlands and blossoms on the international stage, it is no surprise to see him attract suitors from across Europe.
The Haarlem-born midfielder joined the Feyenoord youth academy at nine-years-old and, as the shortest player in each age group he played in, it was often debated among coaches that Clasie was lacking the height and strength required to be a footballer at the top level.
Currently standing at 5 ft 7, his height remains a hot topic when it comes to discussing the player’s potential. But the qualities which suggest the youngster will continue to develop and eventually turn out for one of Europe’s elite are the same now as those which carried him through the Feyenoord youth system and into the first-team. Clasie is an incredibly hard working midfielder with fantastic technical ability. His passing range and accuracy is superb and that, combined with his creativity, reading of the game and remarkable ability to break down opponents’ attacks and kick-start one for his own team in one fluid movement, make him a very exciting player who is a complete joy to behold.
‘The Pride of South’ have been a remarkably enthralling team to watch this season. Currently sitting four points behind league leaders Ajax, they are still very much in the heated Eredivisie title race alongside PSV and Vitesse. A large part of Feyenoord’s ability to last the distance with inexperienced squad is down to Clasie himself. The number six along with Stefan de Vrij, Joris Mathijsen behind him and Graziano Pelle spearheading attacks make up the spine of the team and combine excellently with the likes of Bruno Martins Indi, Jean-Paul Boetius, Daryl Janmaat, Lex Immers, Tonny Vilhena and Ruben Schaken to create a formidable and thoroughly entertaining side. Clasie has netted two goals and picked up six assists so far this season and stats from Infostrada Sports (via Eredivisie Sidekick) show that 75% of his 1463 passes this season have been successful, 52% of his shots have been on target while he has won 99 (61%) of all tackles he has attempted. Throughout the current campaign, the player has acted as Feyenoord’s engine, dictating the tempo of the game and linking up to create many goalscoring opportunities for teammates in more advanced areas. He has missed only one of his side’s league matches this season due to suspension after picking up five yellow cards.
His hard work and excellent performances in the Feyenoord midfield have brought recognition from Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, who gave him his international debut in the World Cup Qualifying match against Turkey. Since then, Clasie has made four more appearances for Oranje and is on his way to cementing a place in the Dutch midfield for the 2014 World Cup.
The future of Clasie at club level has been the subject of much speculation over recent months. Serie A high-flyers Fiorentina recently made a bid of €5 million for the midfielder, while he has been linked to the likes of Premier League sides Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Clasie, however, has insisted he is happy to remain in Rotterdam for at least one more season, but only if the club are willing to give him the recognition his performances deserve as well as the assurances that they can help him develop further while moving forward as a club. The player told Voetbal International: “If I sign a new contract, I want to be appreciated for the performance that I have put in… I don’t necessarily want to leave, but I always think of it this way: if a club wants to keep a player, they let them know. But they have not given me that feeling, so I wonder if Feyenoord really wants to keep me.” The club’s technical director, Martin van Geel, insisted that they want to put him amongst the biggest earners in the side before adding that it was the midfielder who rejected their offers. Contract talks have now been put on hold until the end of the season, which will see speculation increase significantly over the coming weeks.
The club’s financial position will play a massive part in keeping stars like Clasie as well as their ability to continue to improve as a team. Feyenoord have only recently emerged from severe financial difficulty, as they were promoted to Category II in the KNVB’s financial health rating system only weeks before they went on to finish runners-up in Eredivisie last season. A significant part of that fantastic achievement is down to coach Ronald Koeman, who has put the products of the magnificent Varkenoord youth academy (voted the best academy in Netherlands in each of the last three years) into great use. Over recent years, like most Dutch teams, the Rotterdam side have continually lost their best players to bigger clubs and, as a result, have taken a step backwards.
It is no surprise then to see the likes of Clasie and 21-year-old captain De Vrij (contract until 2014) insist they want to make sure the club shares their ambitions in taking another leap forward with this young team before they commit to contract extensions instead of seeking out pastures new. Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal among others are clubs continually linked with the best young players in Netherlands, and at the moment, plenty of those starlets are plying their trade in the red and white of Feyenoord. Martins Indi, De Vrij, Clasie, Vilhena and Boetius are all remarkable prospects and are key to this extremely exciting side and of all of them Clasie is the oldest by almost eight months.
As Feyenoord are still not in great shape financially and are soon to start construction on a new stadium which will cost a total of €313 million, it is expected that a few players will be cashed in on over the coming years. Most immediately, it has been reported that two key players are likely to depart this summer. Although De Vrij is yet to commit to a new deal, it seems that a reasonable offer for Martins Indi is more likely to be accepted as the club believe 22-year-old Miquel Nelom to be strong enough to take over the left-back position next season. Clasie, it appears, is the player most likely to join Martins Indi on the way out, but the club are desperate to prevent this as they do not have a suitable replacement for the youngster.
The latest breakdown in contract negotiations suggests the likelihood of the young midfielder departing De Kuip are increasing. While the squad is brimming with exciting talents and are consistently improving under Koeman, it seems they are struggling to sell the vision to some of the stars who are being coveted by bigger teams in Europe.
The uncertainty surrounding the player’s future will be cleared up after the season has drawn to a close and Feyenoord will start the new Eredivisie campaign looking to build on the previous two fantastic seasons and challenge for the title once again. A significant part of their ability to do so, however, depends on whether Jordy Clasie will line-up in the centre of midfield. It seems there are a nerve-wracking few months ahead for the natives of Rotterdam as they wait to find out what the future holds for the “Dutch Xavi”.