Category: Clubs

Gijs Smal comments on his departure from FC Twente at the end of this season

Gijs Smal has not yet confirmed his move to Feyenoord, but it is clear that the 26-year-old left-back will leave FC Twente at the end of this season. After the Eredivisie match against Sparta Rotterdam, he explained why.

Dutch media have already reported that he had reached an agreement with Feyenoord about moving to Rotterdam next season. The defender himself has not yet wanted to confirm an agreement. He also hoped that the news would not leak out.

“There was contact from Feyenoord, but there was also contact from other clubs. Nothing has been signed yet” said Gijs Smal.

Even so, FC Twente fans sang for him on Saturday during the match against Sparta Rotterdam. After all, Gijs Smal’s departure didn’t yield a single cent for the Enschede club. The full-back, who joined from FC Volendam in 2020, could have extended his contract with the Tukkers, but decided to leave the club.

According to Gijs Smal, money is not the reason.

“This does not bother me. After my career I can also earn money. I came here for free, but I didn’t receive any fees either. And I still have a contract here that you can say: it’s not that special. It has never been renewed since I arrived here, but that is not the problem” commented Gijs Smal.

FC Twente waited a long time with an offer and when it arrived at the start of the season, Gijs Smal wanted to wait for the transfer window.

“This was not what it should have been. I only heard something again in December. But we also hear about other clubs that are interested, because as an almost free player, you become interesting” said Gijs Smal.

Gijs Smal held back again.

“If something good comes along, something that I think could be a step forward, then you want to see if you can reach a higher level. Not because of the money, but because I want to look back on my career later and be able to say I made the most of it. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith” concluded Gijs Smal.

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Feyenoord close to announcing the signing of Gijs Smal

Feyenoord is already starting to think about forming its squad for next season and the Rotterdam club is very close to announcing the signing of Gijs Smal. The 26-year-old full-back, who belongs to FC Twente, will not renew his contract with the Tukkers and will be free at the end of this season.

Gijs Smal will arrive to replace Marcos López. The 24-year-old Peruvian will leave Feyenoord at the end of this season, after spending two seasons wearing the Stadionclub shirt.

Gijs Smal, born in De Rijp, left FC Volendam and signed for FC Twente for free at the start of the 2020/21 season. He was an important player at Enschede, especially last season. In 34 Eredivisie appearances, he scored two goals and provided ten assists. This season, he has just one assist in 16 games.

FC Twente wanted to keep Gijs Smal at the club, but were unable to reach an agreement on renewing his contract.

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Daley Blind, Girona’s metronome

Daley Blind was pushed out of the Ajax squad last season and when he failed to get playing time at Bayern Munich, people expected his career to fizzle out. But the 104 times capped left footer is on his way to fight for the title in La Liga. His first half season there is easy to summarize: he has a coach who uses Blind for his strenghts. The defender is basically the first player in the attack. His team mates give him the ball and he will most the ball exactly where it needs to go, with the perfect weight and the perfect direction. This is a very specific process, which needs a lot of brainpower on the pitch and lots of hours on the training field.

You should probably let Blind play with a microphone and instruct him to say out loud what he is seeing and thinking. That is the best way to understand all that is going on in the intriguiing complex machinations of his football brain. Everything he does seems simple, but it’s not. Blind can’t do much by himself. He’s not Mbappe or Haaland. Blind has limitations. He depends on team mates moving and running and offering options. He is vulnerable due to his frailties.

Put him in a team without structure and limited positioning changes and he will slowly suffocate and his talents will become invisible. All you see are his weaknesses. If you let him chase quick forwards, it even becomes pathetic or laughable. He is like a conductor without sheet music. That is the Blind Ajax didn’t need anymore.

Girona is a team without any stars. And they don’t play their opponents off the pitch either. But what you do see, is a team that stoically is trying to find gaps and openings to hurt the opponent. They are looking at ways to accelerate the game suddenly, to find openings that don’t really exist. It seems. Or to press in such a way that opponent has no options left or situations where they can benefit from a man-more situation. And Daley Blind is the general from the back who oversees it all. Girona’s football comes to life when you decide to focus on what Blind does.

When looking at Blind on the ball sometimes feels like the tv broadcast is stuttering. It feels like he’s not sure, like he takes too much time, as if he doesn’t know what to do. As if he’s at a restaurant scanning all the menu items until a dish really speaks to him. Suddenly he sees his best option and he accelerates the game with a firm pass. A pass with a message, as he himself says. Playing the ball at the right moment, with the right speed, the right weight of pass and direction, it’s an art. It looks simple. It’s not. Most players at the top know how to play a ball from A to B. Blind’s passes have more communication in them. He plays the ball to C and that ball instructs B to make a run in behind. Because B will be receiving the ball from D who gets it played into him via C. If player B, C and D can’t “read” the messages, it is better not to use Blind. Because then he becomes a weak defender.

Daley is constantly asked in all sorts of interviews what magical change happened and the 33 year old laughs and says he’s simply enjoying life in Spain. He is in the autumn of his career and he is taking on Real Madrid, Atleti and Barca. His selection for Oranje is suddenly not longer a strange affair.

But Blind didn’t change anything. He is still the same player. But he is viewed differently and used differently than Schreuder did at Ajax. Blind was signed by Girona as the missing piece of the jigsaw. To start the attack. That is his strength. And if you judge him on that aspect of the game, there are few players better than him. De Bruyne, probably. Frenkie, surely. Kimmich, maybe. Blind can now be considered one of the most important centre backs in La Liga. Not because he changed. But because he is used in his strength.

Thanks to VI Pro –

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Chelsea loan Ian Maatsen to Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund announced the signing of Ian Maatsen from Chelsea. The 21-year-old left-back played twelve matches this season with the Blues shirt.

At Borussia Dortmund, PSV’s next opponent in the UEFA Champions League, Ian Maatsen will meet Donyell Malen. The two already know each other from the Dutch national team. Ronald Koeman called up Ian Maatsen last year, but the defender has yet to take the field in the Netherlands shirt.

The Yellow Wall wanted to buy Ian Maatsen, but Chelsea didn’t accept it.

“It will be a loan period, there are no other options. It was not possible to obtain a purchase option in the agreement,” said the Borussia Dortmund director.

“Due to personal problems, we had to strengthen in the left-back position this winter. Ian Maatsen fits the bill. He brings a lot of speed, has a strong left leg and can be used in different positions” concluded the German director.
The fifth-placed team in the Bundesliga was looking for a left-back due to Julian Ryerson’s injury and participation in the African Cup.

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Ajax request return of Kian Fitz-Jim

Ajax have requested the return of Kian Fitz-Jim. Currently in fifth place in the Eredivisie, the Amsterdam team has reached an agreement with SBV Excelsior regarding the early return of Kian Fitz-Jim. The Kralingers first wanted to sign a player to replace the departed Kian Fitz-Jim, before releasing the midfielder to return to the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

At the start of this season, Kian Fitz-Jim was loaned to SBV Excelsior for a season. The Amsterdam club included in the contract the option to request the midfielder’s return at any time.

The reason SBV Excelsior delayed Kian Fitz-Jim’s return was because the Kralingers first wanted to bring in a replacement. This week, the Rotterdam club announced the signing of Kenzo Goudmijn.

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Ajax, The Perfect Storm

For decades, ever since Oranje and Cruyff wooed the world with their break through Total Football ( even if it was Happel at Feyenoord who initiated it), Ajax has been synonym with “class”, “technical football” and youth development.

A factory, churning out talent after talent. From Cruyff, Krol, Rep, Suurbier to Van Basten, Van ‘t Schip, Rijkaard, Vanenburg all the way to Seedorf, Davids, Kluivert, De Boer Bros, Van der Vaart, Sneijder and Frenkie de Jong and more recently Gravenberch, Brobby and Timber…

All managed by a host of former Ajax players in top football roles ( Danny Blind, Ruud van Duyvenbode, Arie van Eijden, Wim Jonk, Sjaak Swart, Louis van Gaal, Co Adriaanse), as part of a close knit network, the Fifth Colonne as it’s called in The Netherlands. Scouts, youth coaches, analysts, agents, Ajax always seemed to be a many tentacled octopus, delivering dozens of former youth products to literally every club in The Netherlands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you recognise all these incredible talents?

Noa Lang (ex Feyenoord as well) at PSV. Quinten Timber at Feyenoord (originally also Feyenoord by the way), Eagles’ captain Bas Kuipers, Mitchel van Dijk at Fortuna, Czerny at Twente (former season), Warmerdam at Sparta, Baas at Twente, Eijting at Twente, the list is long. No one will dispute the majestic impact Ajax’ has had on Dutch football.

They may not have been the first (or last) to win a European trophy but they did win most of them.

That huge Football Emporium is slowly disintegrating before our eyes. With a massive loss versus Arch Rivals Feyenoord 0-4 as the lowest of the low, particularly the off pitch shenanigans with hooded “fans” trying to storm the Cruyff Arena, to lynch a couple of board directors.

So where did it go wrong?

For me, arrogance is a key factor. Ajax always pride themselves as the Sons of Gods, the best of all. This arrogance is typical maybe for the city of Amsterdam, where the street smart bravado has always been a factor. The city of advertising and media execs (as opposed to industrial Eindhoven (Philips), or transport-focused Rotterdam (ports).

“”We are Ajax” is what you need to radiate when you walk onto the pitch, so you’re already 1-0 when the opponent looks at us coming out.” The jersey, the hairdo, the chest forward and chin up attitude. And the Ajax culture truly wants players to emphasize this.

When Ajax was struggling to play attractive football (under Frank de Boer for instance), the legendary Johan Cruyff started his Velvet Revolution, aided by the likes of Wim Jonk, Dennis Bergkamp, Keje Molenaar and Marc Overmars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It got made into a book! I can see Christopher Walken in the JC role and Stephen Merchant as Van der Sar. Maybe Ricky Gervais as Marc Overmars? Ryan Gosling as Bergkamp?

Ex-players needed to take charge of the club, just like at Bayern Munich. Overmars earned his stripes as a business man and manager, partly due to his hobby to buy and upgrade real estate and trading in classic cars, while acting as technical director at Go Ahead Eagles (where he started his pro career and where he worked with you maverick coach Erik ten Hag).

Edwin van de Sar was being courted to become the new managing director (after his business studies at the Cruyff University), while Jonk and Bergkamp would become part of the technical management triumvirate (with Overmars and Frank de Boer).

The plan didn’t work out too well. Jonk left angrily, as his input to use Academy products was ignored. Bergkamp had to leave after a conflict with Overmars ( he pushed Peter Bosz out and pushed his friend Marcel Keizer for the head coach role) so the management team running the club consisted of Marc Overmars and Edwin van der Sar (and a financial and commercial director of course, but these company officals are not relevant for this particular topic).

And both Overmars and Sar were being monitored by the Board of Directors, which had Danny Blind as the football man. Blind played an important role in the background, as the sounding board for coaches and management, but Blind left the role when Van Gaal was brought back to Oranje as head coach. Van Gaal wouldn’t do it without his lieutenant Danny. So Ajax did not have a football smart director in the Board but this was not so crucial, as Overmars and Sar had a good grip on Ajax, which stole more hearts in Europe under Ten Hag, particularly in that 2019 CL Campaign, with Frenkie, Tadic, Ziyech and Tagliafico in stunning form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the dick pics Overmars sent hahahaha….

The bubble burst in Ten Hag’s final year. What no one could have predicted happened. Marc Overmars appeared to have sent dick pics (!!!) to several female colleagues on the Ajax marketing desks. And the macho culture within Ajax was such, that the women/girls were afraid to complain about it.

The news shocked the Dutch bonton world and when it became clear that this 1) had been going on for quite a while and 2) Van der Sar was aware but didn’t want to intervene, the popularity rating of the Sons of Gods plummeted.

Van der Sar couldn’t do much different than sack Overmars, but as the lanky manager hoped to re-instate the once speedy winger in this role, he was quite successful after all, Van der Sar never appointed a successor.

So half of the successful due “Overmars / Ten Hag” had to leave the club and the other half wouldn’t stay much longer, as Manchester United lured the champion maker to Old Trafford.

Van der Sar, who already had a string of mismanagement dossiers to his name (the Nouri case, the Quincy Promes case, the Winston Bogarde case), decided to push KJ Huntelaar and scout Gerry Hamstra in the role of “acting Technical Directors”. The problem – Ajax being a publically listed company – was that both H’s didn’t have the authority to sign contracts, so Van der Sar decided that he would be the technical director / managing director and he would be more “hands on” when transfers were concerned.

Ten Hag went. Alfred Schreuder came. There was no technical director present in that transfer window, so an overzealous Schreuder stepped in, together with his agent to help Ajax sign some new players.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That summer, some big names and powerful characters left the club: Brobbey went to Leipzig, Tagliafico to Lyon, Martinez to Man United, Mazaroui to Bayern, Onana to Inter, Haller to Dortmund, Schuurs was allowed to leave for Torino and Antony also left for Man United. Some of these were unavoidable, some of the others (Schuurs, Tagliafico) maybe less so.

In place of these players, Ajax brought in Calvin Bassey, Lorenzo Lucca, Owen Wijndal, Jorge Sanchez and Florian Grillitsch. Schreuder and Van der Sar were also keen to bring Sevilla forward Ocampos to the Arena, but the Board of Directors felt that signing was close to being preposterous and stopped that. They did allow for Ocampos to come on a loan basis. No surprise here, that Ocampus ended up a failure, as any football knowledgable person would be able to predict: Ocampus would probably work at PSV but lacks the skills to play the Ajax style.

The Board of Directors gave a clear signal to the coach/management but allowed for the signing of the others.

Just to give you an idea: Sven Botman left Ajax for 8 million euros. Calvin Bassey came from Rangers for 21 Million euros. Per Schuurs left for Torino, for 9 million euros. Crazy.

Schreuder didn’t have the greatest first season’s half at Ajax and came to clash with club icon Daley Blind, resulting in the international leaving the club mid-season, which in turn resulted in Danny Blind – fresh from the World Cup in Qatar – to sever his ties with Ajax’ Board of Directors. Leaving another great hole of football know-how in the Ajax hierarchy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tadic apparently taking over from Schreuder, last season

So, there is a Board of Directors of people without any real football know-how: Eringa ( resigned this week) is a notorious job-hopper with a career in hospitals and railways. Annette Mosman is an accountant. Cees van Oevelen is a lawyer. Georgette Schlick is a media person.

Apart from these people, Maurits Hendriks was added to management, as Chief Sports Officer. No one knows what the former Hockey coach was going to add to Ajax

Van der Sar had the power but didn’t know what to do with it. Ajax was now a year without Technical Director and during the Schreuder (and later Heitinga) season, the first cracks became apparent. Tadic unhappy, Blind gone, Wijndal never played, Berghuis started fist fights with supporters, Ocampos returned to Sevilla halfway the season and Ajax would finish the season third, only 2 points above AZ Alkmaar.

Van der Sar was now convinced that a true Technical Director was needed (Overmars found a new home in Antwerp) and Maurits Hendriks enlisted the help of an Executive Search (headhunter) bureau to find the ideal candidate.

Now, these things don’t work too well in the world of pro football. There is no linkedin. And the coach resume is simply how he performed with other clubs / teams. In terms of quality of performance, results achieved and how the guy holds up in press conferences and interviews.

By then, it appeared impossible to hold Van der Sar accountable. And lets face it: he’s not the only guilty party. What about the Board of Directors, who were there to check the shenanigans of their GM. But after the different botches affairs, Sar’s biggest mistake was to not replace Overmars. He saw the writing on the wall and announced his resignation (per August 1) but before he was able to truly pass the baton, he suffered a debilitating stroke and is now at home, basically learning how to walk and talk again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Hockey coach Hendriks responsible for signing Sven Mislintat

Obviously, no one feels the need to string the former Oranje goalie up for his mistakes. We wish him well.

But the usual suspects  for the TD job weren’t good enough. AZ’s Max Huiberts, Frank Arnesen (who found Arne Slot for Feyenoord), Jordi Cruyff, Wim Jonk, Marijn Beuker, Jan Streuer, Maxwell, Julian Ward… For some reason, Hendriks and the Ajax board decided on a guy 1) no one heard of in The Netherlands and 2) who was known to be a lone wolf (according to former employers Stuttgart who didn’t extend his deal) and who had a reputation of looking for conflict (according to former employers Arsenal). The man who hardly had any experience as technical director but who made a name in Germany for himself as top scout.

As per usual, the technical director selects the new coach. Peter Bosz was keen to return to Ajax, as his nemesis Bergkamp had left, but for some reason Ajax (Mislintat?) decided against re-hiring Bosz. It’s unclear who else was on the short list. Heitinga had blown it ( his results weren’t overly great), Nagelsmann apparently wasn’t interested but we’ll never know who else was on the list. Mislintat ended up with Maurice Steijn, the Dutch coach who had previously impressed with ADO Den Haag, VVV and Sparta Rotterdam and who was considered another Henk ten Cate protege (like Arne Slot and Alfred Schreuder).

Mislintat: “I came to focus on Steijn, because he manages to get results better than to be expected with the material he works with. He let Den Haag, VVV and in particular Sparta hit well above their station and that is what we need to get Ajax quickly back to the top.”

Steijn is also a Dutch coach, which helps with the language and he’s known to be a tough taskmaster, as the The Hague street mentality would work well in Amsterdam, people believed. Steijn was quite adamant that he wanted Said Bakkati as his assistant (formerly Dick Advocaat’s assistant at Feyenoord and Jaap Stam’s second in command at Cincinnati). He was assistant at ajax U21 in 2014 and is no stranger to the club. Former midfielder Hedwiges Maduro, considered a top coach in the making, was also high on Steijn’s list. He got them both.

As per usual, Steijn gave his list of preferred new signings to Mislintat, assuming the TD would work his magic to get the characters and types Steijn wanted. Steijn made a point to say he preferred players from The Netherlands. Like Feyenoord was able to build a success team with players brought in from AZ, Twente, Excelsior, this is exactly how Steijn also believed he could build from the bottom up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How it started…

To Steijn frustration, Mislintat ignored the requests from Steijn and delivered a number of fairly unknown players to the JC Arena.

Branco van de Boomen’s signing (on a free) can be justified. The signing of Sutalo (Croatian international) can also be explained, just like Forth’s move from City to Ajax can be a good one, in time.

But where Ajax saw the likes of Frenkie de Jong, De Ligt, Ziyech, Haller, Tagliafico and Martinez go, they decided to bring replacements in from Viborg, from Eintracht, Molde, Middlesbrouh and Metz…

Literally none of these players were known entities amongst the Ajax supporters and it’s now wonder Mislintat was heading for a rough ride.

When Steijn was asked if he was happy with the players he was gifted, he said the following: “I don’t know, I really don’t know most of them, sorry. I need to check them out and see. I gave my list of preferred players to Sven but sadly, he decided to use his own list. They’re his players.”

A telling interview indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How it ended….

Not much later, the news broke that Mislintat had verbally abused the coaching staff and goalie Jay Gorter during a training session. He told the coaches that Steijn would be sacked if Ajax lost against Feyenoord (they did) and he told Gorter he was supposed to make way for the new German goalie.

As if this wasn’t enough, the Telegraaf newspaper broke the news that Mislintat was the subject of an internal investigation. It appeared that he owned shares in a sports marketing company, which has a particular players agent as shareholder as well. Guess what. Mislintat would speak to potential new signings, telling them that if they want to move to Ajax, they were to ditch their current manager and go with the agent who happens to be – coincidence coincidence – Mislintat’s partner in the business. Wow. How low can you go?

On the day of (the first) Ajax – Feyenoord, Ajax decided to let the TD go. The internal investigation is still going, by the way, but despite this, Ajax could see the writing on the wall: this was never going to go well.

The first thing Ajax did, was to appoint Van Wijk and Van Praag (two elderly Ajax statesmen) to the Board of Directors and Michael van Praag immediately called his friend Louis van Gaal with the request to consult Ajax in how to structure the future.

Maurice Steijn is still coach and asked about Van Gaal’s role, he responded positively: “I have worked with him before. When he was national team coach in 2012, I was coach of ADO and Oranje used to train on our grounds. Louis would ask me for ADO players, if he needed additional bodies and we spent quite some time together. I still use his lessons in my coaching and I look forward to his insights and advice.”

 

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Almere City FC announce signing of Christopher Mamengi

After nine seasons wearing the FC Utrecht shirt, Christopher Mamengi leaves the Utregs and signs for three seasons with Almere City FC for the Eredivisie dispute. The Dutch defender, born in Amersfoort, will try his luck at the newly promoted club to the elite of Dutch football.

At FC Utrecht, Christopher Mamengi was unable to establish himself in the first team and accepted an offer from Zwarte Schapen to compete in the biggest competition in Dutch football. In the first team of FC Utrecht, Christopher Mamengi played only one game.

Christopher Mamengi is the fifth player to leave FC Utrecht and sign with Almere City FC in their history. He rounds out the roster with players like Jonas Arweiler, Gianluca Nijholt, Enzio Boldewijn and Leon de Kogel. The most recent player to have made this move was Jonas Arweiler who in the 2021/22 season left Stadion Galgenwaard to play at Yanmar Stadion.

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Chuba Akpom signs with Ajax for five seasons

Sven Mislintat is still working to reshape AFC Ajax for this new season. The German director got a deal with Middlesbrough and the Amsterdam club announced the signing of Chuba Akpom. The English striker signs for five seasons with the Godenzonen. The Godenzonen paid 12 million and 300 thousand euros to have the 27-year-old striker.

Chuba Akpom was the main striker of the second division of England and consequently of Middlesbrough. With Boro’s shirt, Chuba Akpom scored 34 goals in 82 matches. It was at PAOK in Greece that he had the greatest streak of games. In Greece, there were 131 games played and 29 goals scored.

Formed in the youth ranks of Arsenal, he had only twelve games signed with the shirt of the Gunners. As well as playing in England and Greece, he also played in Belgium for St. Truiden.

The last time Middlesbrough had sold a player to Ajax was in the 2010/11 season when Egypt striker Mido was released to sign for Ajacieden. And this is only the third English player to wear the shirt of the Amsterdammers. Charlie Setford and Ray Clarke were the other two players who previously played for the Amsterdam side.

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PSV buys Jerdy Schouten for twelve million euros

PSV Eindhoven continues to reinforce its team for this new season and mainly to seek a place in the group stage of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League. The new reinforcement that lands in Eindhoven is the steering wheel, Jerdy Schouten. The 26-year-old Dutch midfielder leaves Italy’s Bologna for 12 million euros. Jerdy Schouten returns to Dutch football after spending four years in Italy.

In Italy, Jerdy Schouten managed to develop very well. He played over a hundred games for Bologna and scored only two goals. It was in Italy that he managed to be called up by the Dutch national team. Jerdy Schouten was revealed by ADO Den Haag and also played for SC Telstar. This is the first time that PSV has bought a player from Bologna in Italy.

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Sven Zitman leaves PEC Zwolle and signs with TOP Oss

TOP Oss announced the signing of Sven Zitman from PEC Zwolle. He signs until the end of the 2024/25 season with Ossenaren and with the option of automatic renewal for another season. The expectation is that already in this weekend’s round, he can enter the field for TOP Oss.

The 21-year-old midfielder was at PEC Zwolle last season and has a contract with the Blauwvingers until the end of next season. The Zwollenaars had already informed the athlete that they would no longer count on him for the sequence of the season.

“We are extremely happy with the arrival of Sven Zitman. He will bring great strength to our team in pursuit of our goals throughout this season. He is technically very experienced and able to read the game well” said TOP Oss director of football Linton Posthumus.

“I am very happy to sign with TOP Oss. I hope to get on the field as soon as possible and I want to help TOP Oss to seek access to the Eredivisie” said Sven Zitman.

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