Vitesse: Chelsea youngsters out to make an impact in Arnhem
“We are Chelsea II! Who the f**k are you?!” reads one banner usually found behind one of the goals at Vitesse’s GelreDome stadium. While the club have been ridiculed and criticised for their links with the Stamford Bridge club, many fans have embraced the label. They will certainly need to this season and perhaps with good reason as Peter Bosz could field as many as five Chelsea youngsters in his first-team in 2015-16.
Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown, Nathan, Danilo Pantic and Dominic Solanke have all moved from London to the GelreDome this summer and it appears to be a rather bright and talented bunch Bosz has to choose from.
The loss of Marko Vejinovic and Davy Propper to Feyenoord and PSV respectively, as well as Bertrand Traore’s return to Chelsea, leaves three large holes in the squad. Pantic, Nathan and Baker will add to a midfield which already has established players like Kelvin Leerdam and Valeri Qazaishvili, while early the suggestions are that Marvelous Nakamba can live up to his name, but there is a drop in level there and it is difficult to see where the goals will come from without Traore. The Burkina Faso teenager’s move from the wing to the striker position gave Vitesse a whole new type of threat in the second half of last season, filling a void they have been suffering with since Wilfried Bony’s departure to Swansea.
Solanke is 17-years-old and does not look ready to line up as the spearhead of a team which will be challenging for a Europa League spot. Abiola Dauda failed to live up to the hype that followed his debut hat-trick last term, while Uros Djurdjevic has never looked convincing as a No.9.
All this suggests that Vitesse are heading into this season with the same worry they had in the build up to last and the one before that.
Zakaria Labyad and Jan-Arie van der Heijden have both departed, with the former returning to [Not] Sporting [Lisbon] and the latter’s contract running out before he joined Feyenoord. They could upgrade on Renato Ibarra and have more dependable backup than the young Arshak Koryan on the right wing, but Bosz may turn to the highly skilled Valeri Qazaishvili as a viable wide option.
Meanwhile, in Maikel van der Werff, Vitesse have signed a more resolute defender than Van der Heijden for free. Luckily, the former PEC Zwolle man is lining up alongside Guram Kashia, the bulldog of the team. The centre-backs have sound cover to their right in the wildly talented Kevin Diks (whom the chicks love, according to another GelreDome banner), who will be backed up by Sheran Yeini who joins from Maccabi Tel Aviv. However, on the left, things are not as secure with the erratic Rochdi Achenteh the only option.
Perhaps Vitesse’s biggest asset, though, is their coach. Bosz has shown to be a very intelligent trainer and at times last season, results did not reflect the quality of his team’s performances. While there are a huge amount of big changes hitting his squad this season, Bosz is capable of getting the team to blend together quickly.
Player to watch: Kevin Diks
The young right back burst onto the scene last season and displaced Chelsea loanee Wallace as first choice on that side. Bosz rates him very highly and with good reason. At just 18-years-old, he still has a long way to develop, but his starting level is very high and he is a player who can improve to add a lot to the Vitesse attack while still remaining defensively sound.
BeNeFoot Prediction: 4th