I just got sent an amazing e-book on Cruyff (his death was remembered) and these stories are very cool.
I can do two things: 1) put a JC article on the blog every now and then but focus on current affairs or 2) focus on the JC articles and let the current affairs take a step back.
After this post on Danjuma, I will cover the Cup Final between Ajax and PSV.
Last year in June, Arnaut Danjuma was the guest in a tv sports show. He made a strong impression: ambitious, self critical and… outspoken. He questioned the KNVB. Did they pay attention to him? At all? Was he being following, playing for Bournemouth? What was the reason he was ignored? Could the NT manager maybe tell him what he needed to improve in order to get the call up?
There was no end to his confidence.
And not everyone could handle this swagger. Why is he playing for Bournemouth, if he is that good? Surely, we can’t take clubs like Luton Town or Bristol City or Millwall seriously? Danjuma felt invisible to the world and realised he had to make a move.
He consciously decided to go for Villareal and Unai Emery. He needed a coach who would focus on the details. Who would work on improving players tactically. He needed a “small club” with big ambitions. He used the services of one of those sports analytics companies and came out at the Yellow Submarine for his future. So he said no to several other courters ( EPL clubs, Ligue 1 clubs, Bundesliga, PSV Eindhoven) and went to Spain. Under the radar.
By now, he’s shone at Old Trafford against Man U, he was top in the Wanda Metropolitano (v Atletico), in the Bernabeu and the Juve Stadium. He is now a recognised European top player. Julian Nagelsmann used Danjuma as an example to explain that Bayern would not just beat Villareal.
This new status is completely the result of …himself. He took his career in his own hands (with his dad) and decided to invest in his development. He could have made way more money elsewhere. He now has a team that makes him better and he is in a team that he makes better as well. With a coach that will invest in him. Danjuma purs whenever Emery goes into detail tactically for the European opponents. After the 1-0 win over Bayern, Arnaut again explained the importance of Emery’s input.
He is the prime example of a smart player who keeps his eyes open and who invests in himself. Being able to be good with the ball doesn’t make you a good football player. At Villareal, Danjuma learns to understand and read the game and to think positionally. What do you do without the ball (which is 95% of the game for most). Arriving in the box in time, for instance. This is not talent, or touch or physical condition. This is about awareness, intelligence and “feel”.
In the run up to the Bayern clash, he said in an interview that he considers himself one of the best wingers in Europe. A big statement and without the context, a bit bigheaded? But he said more, way more, but the media ignored those other comments. For some, it’s a big much: he played Championship football until last year, he does not have a starting spot in the NT, he scored one Eredivisie goal in his career and never won a big trophy as a player.
Lets look at the wingers/forwards inthe TOp 5 competitions (EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Seria A, Ligue 1) and see which were involved in goals.
We won’t consider free kicks or penalty kicksl to make the comparison fair. Only goals from open play, in other words. Only 15 wingers were involved with 4 attemptos on goal or more, in 90 minutes of football.
The first column is the name of the player (duh!), the column “schoten” = “shots on goal” and the “Kansen gecreeerd” is “chances created”. Totaal is… well… I think you can find out for yourself :-).
The list will not surprise many people. You’d say “Salah, Sane, Messi, Gnabry, Insigne, Saka, Vinicius, Grealish, Mane” without hesitation. The PSG lads won’t surprise either. The two surprises are at the bottom of the list, with 4 “involvements” per match. Sheraldo Becker (yes!) at Union Berlin has been a surprise package in the Bundesliga and of course Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld.
The only criticism: he does play as a central striker now as well in Emery’s fluid set ups. This is in fact in reality less the case. Like Memphis, Danjuma will prefer to come from the left with Moreno – a real striker – next to him. When Villareal has the ball, Danjuma plays more than a winger than someone like Salah.
He may be able to create more for others, but in terms of scoring, no one needs to doubt him. Only Benzema and new comer Aubameyang collect better stats.
This is not a player who is “hot” for a bit, this is a player who keeps on improving and has his eyes firmly on the statistics. It means that he’ll probably be scoring more goals next season.
There is one aspect in which Danjuma indeed is top class. He makes it into the top 5 of Europe: shots on goal after a successful dribble. You’d expect Messi to be on the list of course, but this is the current top 5.
Danjuma proves week in week out that in terms of positioning without the ball as in terms of individual dribbles and creating chances, he indeed is now amongst attacking royalty in Europe.
Would you use Danjuma as a starter?
Tell me your favority top 3 in LvG’s 3-4-1-2 system.
Note: I do rate Gakpo and Lang as potential #10s and I have hope Schreuder will get Ihattaren back to full fitness.