Luc Castaignos is not ready for a Premier League move
The Eredivisie is merely a stepping stone for all talented and ambitious players who emerge in it. The Dutch top flight is a fantastic training league for young players to develop their technique and further their development before they propel themselves into the bigger stages such as the Bundesliga, La Liga, Premier League and Serie A. However, these starlets have to be careful as it is the timing of a move which can be most crucial.
Time it right and that player can go on to fulfil his potential, make the wrong decision and he will drift into obscurity.
The jump from the Eredivisie to one of Europe’s leading leagues is huge and the style of the divisions are very different. For one, a young player will be given much more time to prove his worth in the Netherlands than he would in England and Italy, where the leeway is much less and the pressure much greater.
If anyone is aware that a move at the wrong time can be detrimental for a player, it is FC Twente striker Luc Castaignos.
The 21-year-old looks set for a move to the Premier League as reports have emerged that Welsh club Swansea City have made an €8 million bid for him, which has apparently been accepted.
Leading the lines for a top Dutch side like the Enschede club, it is no surprise then that Castaignos has attracted attention from the bargain hunters in England.
The forward has enjoyed a decent season with the Tukkers, scoring 14 goals and picking up five assists in 31 starts in the league. However, such a large bid for a player who wasn’t even his side’s most productive player last season could be considered a gamble.
Twente’s star throughout the campaign was the versatile attacking midfielder and winger Dusan Tadic, who scored 16 times and set up a further 14, while 22-year-old right winger Quincy Promes wasn’t far behind Castaignos with 11 goals and eight assists.
Castaignos joined Feyenoord’s esteemed youth academy as a 14-year-old and worked his way through before making his debut in the first team of the Dutch giants three days before his 17th birthday. By that time, the Schiedam-born striker was already billed to be a superstar in the making, having scored three goals in the Under 17 European Championship, leading the Jong Oranje to the title.
He played five games in his first season in the Feyenoord senior squad and his exciting reputation was bolstered the following year when he scored 15 times in his first full campaign in Rotterdam, finishing up as the league’s joint-sixth highest scorer.
A bright prospect performing remarkably well at a financially struggling team, it was no surprise that he attracted a lot of interest from various European clubs and when Serie A giants Inter came calling, neither he nor Feyenoord could resist and he moved for €3 million in 2011.
The big move didn’t go as well as he had hoped, though, as he played a mere eight competitive matches for the Nerazzurri and was eventually dropped into the Primavera team.
Disappointed with an unproductive season in Italy, he decided to leave in the summer of 2012.
“Inter want to loan me to an Italian club or sell me,” he said at the time. “I came to Italy to wear the Nerazzurri colours and not play for any other club. Now I have to go.
“I’m disappointed not to have shown my worth, but this is football.
“I want to join a big club.”
Although there were reports of interest from England nothing came to fruition and as a result he opted to return to the Netherlands, joining FC Twente.
Upon his return, it was clear the striker was lacking sharpness and confidence, but it didn’t take long for those to return as he went on to score 13 goals in 34 Eredivisie games, a record he improved by one in 2013-14.
Moving back to the Eredivisie was the smartest decision Castaignos could have made, but he will be wondering at what stage he might be by now if he had not left in the first place.
The year of inactivity in the San Siro has hindered his development and it is for that reason he has to be careful about the time and destination of his next transfer.
As Swansea pipe in with a large bid for the Twente forward, again the question must be asked – has he developed enough to make the jump?
At the moment, Castaignos doesn’t appear ready for a move away from De Grolsch Veste Stadion.
While he is clearly a talented player – one with good technique and passing ability – he has too many deficiencies to his game to justify a move at this time.
Upon moving to Tottenham Hotspur from Real Madrid, Rafael van der Vaart admitted that the pace of the English game is the most difficult thing to get used to for a new player and it is because of this that Castaignos might struggle.
The 21-year-old often seems too slow to react and anticipate moves from his teammates.
With a remarkable supporting cast of Dusan Tadic, Quincy Promes, Kyle Ebecilio and Felipe Gutierrez, the forward had ample support and great service around him but was often found missing in the most advanced areas. With so many superb players surrounding him, it could be argued that his return should have been greater than 14 goals. Really, one ponders what Michel Jansen and Alfred Schreuder’s team would have achieved this season had there been a better No.9 leading the lines.
That he was often a step or two behind the game combined with his relatively poor finishing ability lead to him missing a lot of clear-cut chances. Only three players in the Eredivisie hit more shots than Castaignos in 2013-14 – Memphis Depay, Graziano Pelle and Alfred Finnbogason. The Twente player racked up four less than top scorer Finnbogason and 12 less than Pelle. Of his 92 shots, 51% of them were on target, a decent rate, but his conversion rate stands at a mere 15%.
Castaignos has undoubtedly improved since he returned to Netherlands from Inter, but he could do with another season under his belt with Twente to improve his game. It is crucial that he think carefully about his next move. While he was given time to get back into the swing of things with Twente last season, it seems unlikely that in the very competitive and demanding Premier League he will be given a great deal of time to adapt.
Castaignos definitely is a good player with a lot of potential, but an €8m move to Swansea is one which will benefit only Twente and it could be quite damaging to Castaignos. While there is potential for a good partnership to blossom between he and Wilfried Bony up front, with the latter dropping deep and linking things up, if he doesn’t adapt immediately to the pace and style of the Premier League and Swansea, his chances will be limited as he will be shifted out.
Many could argue that Bony’s first campaign has been a relative success since he joined the Swans from Vitesse and that the Jong Oranje forward could take confidence from that. However, Castaignos lacks his brute strength and isn’t as good a finisher. Also, Bony was clearly ready for the step up at the time, while question marks remain over Castaignos.
There is a bright, potentially brilliant player in Luc Castaignos, but a big-money move to a top league this summer is not in his best interests, nor those of the purchasing club.