Lerin Duarte, Cor Pot’s man of choice?

A few days ago Jong Oranje, as the Dutch Under 21 national team is called by the local populace, played Norway’s young talents in their last friendly prior to the 2013 Under 21 European Championship in Israel. Many expected former Chelsea prospect Jeffrey Bruma or Gladbach forward Luuk de Jong to have made their presence known and convince Cor Pot of their abilities. Instead, Lerin Duarte stepped up to the plate.

The 22-year old midfielder of Antillean and Portuguese descent grew up in Rotterdam, joining local side Sparta after attending a trainee day* at the club aged 6. Scouts were sold immediately on the left-footed dribbler and he continued to make strides in his development at Nieuw Terbregge, Sparta’s well-known academy. At the tender age of 18 he was voted as Under 19 Player of the Year, ahead of Bram Nuytinck (currently at Anderlecht) and Charlton Vicento (ADO squad player), following his impressive performances for Sparta’s Under 19 side.

Not long after, Lerin made his first appearance in the Eredivisie, when he came on as a substitute against FC Twente at the start of August 2009. Whilst the season proved to be a disaster for his club, as the side were relegated to the Jupiler League by a last minute goal from Excelsior forward Guyon Fernandez, it was a personal triumph for Duarte himself. He featured prominently and learned a lot from his more experienced team-mates. Despite interest from both Feyenoord and Ajax, he decided to stay with his boyhood club for a little longer.

In the Jupiler League, Duarte played regularly for the first team and was one of the club’s key figures on the pitch. His impressive performances caught the eye of several lower-placed Eredivisie sides too, with his price having dropped after Sparta’s relegation, and in the summer Heracles managed to acquire the midfielder from the Kasteel club.

At Heracles, Duarte steadily grew into a regular fixture and gained himself the strength and mental power that was needed to stay afloat in the Eredivisie. Along with his team-mates Overtoom, Armenteros and Quansah he formed the solid core of the squad, enabling manager Peter Bosz to play the attractive and entertaining style of play they were known for throughout 2012.

Duarte can be typified as a pacey, energetic dribbler in midfield. Not only does he get past players easily, he’s also able to play through defences with his beautifully floating passes and has the tactical eye to position himself accurately along the passing lines of the opposition midfield. There is a downside though, and that’s his lack of stature, making him vulnerable against highly physical midfielders that have the energy required to keep up with his lightning pace.

Last week, Duarte would probably not have appeared on Cor Pot’s list of potential contenders for a midfield spot in Israel this summer, with senior internationals Strootman, Clasie, Vilhena and Maher all being available to the manager too. However, against Norway, the Heraclea will have surely planted a seed of doubt in Pot’s brain regarding a midfield call-up with his amazing through balls and scorching finish. Who knows, Lerin might very well be Cor Pot’s man of choice.

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