Nacer Chadli: For club and country

These days, there are many talents who jump from a small competition to a big one. Leaving their club without much compensation. Instead of millions, thousands are being received. Some others though, get released by their club and make it to the top through another route. In Belgium, there are a few examples of the latter. Newcastle’s Cheick Tioté for instance. Or new Napoli signing Dries Mertens, who couldn’t cut it at Anderlecht. And then there’s Nacer Chadli. One of the most elegant players  to have graced the Eredivisie in years. As we speak, he’s being linked with clubs like Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lokomotiv Moscow and Swansea City. Things weren’t always that rosy though.

Club (By Michiel Jongsma)

As a youngster, Nacer Chadli found himself rejected by the Standard de Liege youth system. He joined MVV in Maastricht, a city in the Netherlands, but made his debut for second tier minnows AGOVV from Apeldoorn in 2007. Incidentally, the same club that gave Dries Mertens his ticket to fame. As the tall winger stood out from an early age, it was the performance in the cup in 2009 against Ajax which really highlighted him as an upcoming talent. With the record champion visiting Apeldoorn and struggling, it wasn’t one of the highly paid Ajax squad that stood out, but the technically gifted Belgian who stole the show. Turning the Ajax-defense inside out, the Amsterdammers were lucky to escape with a 2-1 win. The main talk after the game was mainly about the previously unknown Belgian and the supporters of almost all Eredivisie clubs were keeping a ‘sign him up’ plea for the before unrecognized talent.

After an impressive season for AGOVV, clubs hesitated to pay the Apeldoorn side’s asking price (reportedly €1 million) for his services. In the end (the summer of 2010), it was FC Twente who snapped him up. For a mere €400,000 and it’s pretty obvious it’ll be one of their most profitable signings ever. Instantly, the elegant and skilful Belgian became one of the key figures for Twente, marvelling on the highest stage, the Champions League, and winning the Dutch Cup in 2011. As he developed further, he impressed many in the following season, but reported interest of Fulham was rejected by the player himself. Last season, Chadli was unlucky as he missed a lot of games through injury. However, he had his best season yet in terms of goals, scoring ten and setting up five in 22 appearances. Even more telling was his influence: With the athletic winger (who is comfortable behind the striker or even as the focal point of attack) in the team, Twente won 65% of their Eredivisie games, without him the Tukkers were only victorious 25% of the time.  In short: Chadli was the man. What stood out most was and is his technical ability, power, vision and skill. And not only did this become apparent domestically, the Belgian national team profited too.

Nacer Chadli playing for the national team of Belgium (Belga)

Country (By Björn de Cock)

Nacer Chadli became one of the favourite players of national team coach Marc Wilmots. Although Chadli is a very talented player he still couldn’t manage to make himself an essential player for the Red Devils. He was unlucky to be injured the moment that the Belgian team really started to conquer the world. In his position, Belgium have Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Kevin Mirallas… Nevertheless Chadli could become a very important player for the national team. Playing in a better competition and getting rid of his injury prone status would help him succeed. Something many people forget is that Chadli almost played for the national team of Morroco. However, the attacking player decided in January 2011 to represent Belgium.

Marc Wilmots (national team coach of Belgium):

“I really like the player Nacer Chadli. I can use him as a winger or as a central attacking midfielder. He also has the right mentality. Nacer Chadli is a player that I will always pick when he is fit.”

It is important for the Belgian winger that he picks out a team where he can grow and become a better player. With the World Cup in Brazil next year, Chadli cannot afford to sit on the bench too. Teams like Chelsea, Juventus and other big clubs could be a dangerous journey for the Belgian, whereas teams such as Tottenham and Swansea are probably better options for him (mainly due to a smaller squad). On the other hand, if Villas-Boas or Laudrup are not very keen on signing Chadli there is no reason to join those clubs. I am quite sure that Chadli will take the right decision, especially when you consider that he has already refused a club of the stature of Shakhtar Donetsk. A beautiful club for Chadli but he would be a little bit off the radar over there.

One thing is for sure, Chadli will leave Twente this summer. Maybe the attacking midfielder is already negotiating terms with a club at this moment. Twente was a gift for Chadli and so was the player for the Dutch club. After Bryan Ruiz, the Dutch club will again lose a very talented player. We all hope that Chadli will have more luck than the technically gifted player of Costa Rica. The Belgian has set his sights on a move to a bigger club and competition and nobody can blame him for that. Even Twente did not have a good season but the Belgian player showed that he is ready to make that next big step in his career.

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(Stats in the article provided by Opta )

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