Danjuma: one of the big guns now

A question….

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.

Any suggestions?

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.



Bookmark and Share


  1. Hi Jan. I will choose 1) put a JC article on the blog every now and then but focus on current affairs. Anyway, will go with the majority.
    My front three for now,
    Danjuma-Depay, supported by Gakpo

  2. @Jan ..on Cryuff stories….i think those stories must be interesting to hear and most of us may not have heard about it..current affairs we are all one way or another way in touch with wit…
    i found we struggle with danjuma to create chances, which i hate to see,misses are okay it happens but lesser shots on goal shows an impotent team…i would go with Gakpo Berjwin Depay combo…tremeondous work rate sublime speed and finish…Gakpo is good at headers as well..Berjwin and Gakpo helps our wing backs..team is more balanced with with out Danjuma…i watched villareal they play really well,if it was n not Danjuma,they would score more goals…i am skeptical on Danjuma…
    on bench

  3. Jan, to be honest Cruyff is history. The Netherlands have wasted generation after generation and never won a WC. Matter of fact, Have JC gone to the 1978 world cup, who knows we could of won but he decided not to. What I am interested now is how Van Gall going to approach this world cup so we can at least have a chance. Who is going to be our left back and right back. Is Van Gall is going to finally drop Blind. I’m interested to know if Van Gall is going to finally drop Berghuis. A lot of our players now are bench warmers around Europe. Our chance at this world cup is very slim. I am interested in what the conversations are in Holland. JC is History but open to read anything about him.

  4. Very enjoyable piece and the stats is cherry on top. We love us some JC and I’ve enjoyed some background stories of our greats here. But 1 is it for me especially when well written like this and also it is a world Cup year. We would like a minute by minute commentary of what’s going on with Blind(just kidding but not really🙂)

    Front three for me is Danjuma Depay and Lang. There is something ex-factor about Lang. And also he and Depay can interchange in the middle with far more fluidity and dynamism than I would even say Bergwin.

    So Lang for me. A couple of starts. Would like to see if he sprouts into a superstar or recedes to whatever he will ever be. Nobody in Oranje is more fitting for that test.

  5. I will second this. Langs work rate is good as well. At the same time both lang and danjuma need to clock as many minutes as possible from now onwards. So to be on the same page as depay and bergwijn who like mentioned seemed to be standout when it comes to NT.

    Im also curiously to see lang and depay upfront with lang in that free role like at Brugge when clement was the coach. At the same time it will be waste if van gaal goes with two man front sacrificing an excellent winger for a extra CB just to accommodate blind. Its good he has experimented 3-5-2 and could be a back up but really 4-3-3 should be the main focus going forward.

    Depay, Bergwijn, lang, Danjuma should be lock. What missing in NT is a pure attacking mid which is one of the reason imo why NT will fall short. VDBeek is no upgrade to Wijnaldum and klaassen is klaassen. Berghuis is another waste of time and he will never live up to expectation in high tempo games.

    Danjuma- Lang- Bergwijn


    Frenkie – Matusiwa

    Malacia- Van Dijk- De Vrij- Karsdorp


    For Matusiwa I think he should be called up. He has what it takes to partner frenkie and fits the job descriptions of the enforcer which is missing in NT. Rotate him and koompmeiners from now by the opening game surely they will be able to form a formiddble partnership.

  6. Watched Inter and Roma. Must say both Dumfries and Karsdorp were good. Dumfries scored on the back of a good move through the middle after making a good inside run which caught the Roma defenders napping while Karsdorp was at his usual in build up play, crosses.

    Inter was a better team though as their middlefield made the difference compared to Roma midfield. This is one of the reason why Dumfries offensively has been thriving and has come under spitlight at inter. He gets a good coverup from barella when he is pushing forward and when poesssion is lost and then from skriniar who on the right in that 3 man CB.

    For karsdorp this is not the case and the workload both offensively and defensively is same. The inter first goal which resulted from a turn over ( pellegrini lossing poessesion), karsdorp had already committed himself with the forward run and when the turn over came, a quick one to from the that flank and through the middle left roma defenders for dead.the midfielders also were caught napping after the turn over.

    Overall Mourinho formation and starting 11 can say was questionable. There were some injuries but again the Roma midfield defensively were overrun by Inter and which proved to be decisive

    For karsdorp he was involved in the Roma goal but not directly. He started the move then got involved again but run over the ball to set up Mikitaryan in clear.

  7. @Wilson

    Re: At the same time both lang and danjuma need to clock as many minutes as possible from now onwards. So to be on the same page as depay and bergwijn…

    Bro let’s be realistic with our hopes. You and I know that we are just going to see more of the same. You think these guys are going to change anything 4-5 months to a world Cup? We can wish and pray but it has been long settled bar some catasrophic injury. If they didn’t experiment 8 months to a world Cup what makes you think they would 4 months to the big day?

    They will find a way for Blind to start. Even if they have to play 7-2-1 but he will start.

    Berghuis will also start. A major bungle in the first game would be the only thing that may change their mind going forward. We all know desperation(fear of proving the Dutch public right) is the only thing that works against their stubbornness.

    I also see them going back to Gini regardless of his form.

    I’m not a soothsayer but I do know past is prologue.

  8. Dumfries played well, his intense, lung bursting runs and straight-at your face play make him an asset to any team.
    Karsdorp was quiet, neat on the ball and his dummy for Roma’s goal was good. Defensively he ain’t troubled much. Though his back pass to gk almost resulted in a goal for Inter. Surely not one of his better games, but still should be called up to the NT and be given a chance to challenge for the RB position.

  9. https://www.vi.nl/nieuws/toptransfer-voor-matusiwa-premier-league-lonkt-voor-golfbreker-van-reims

    Top transfer for Matusiwa? Premier League beckons for Reims breakwater

    Top transfer for Matusiwa? Premier League beckons for Reims breakwater
    Through Reon Boeringa Reon Boeringa
    Already a year after his departure from the Eredivisie, a next step beckons for Azor Matusiwa. The defensive midfielder has put himself in the spotlight at Stade Reims.

    Matusiwa has conquered a basic place right after his arrival from FC Groningen and has therefore had a very strong debut season in Ligue 1. At mid-engined Stade Reims, Matusiwa is the cement between the stones, just like in Groningen; no basic player of the French club scores as high on interceptions and tackles as the 23-year-old Dutchman. In fact, in all of Ligue 1, there are only two players with more interceptions per 90 minutes than Matusiwa.

    The chance that the defensive midfielder will move again in the summer is therefore considerable. Matusiwa’s good performances have been noticed on the other side of the Channel. Several Premier League clubs have already indicated their interest.

    Matusiwa still has a contract with Stade Reims until mid-2026. The northern French club took him over from FC Groningen last summer for four million euros. Previously, Ajax’s former talent played on a rental basis for De Graafschap.

    1. Once Again the stars are linning up and 2024-2026 has to be the year for the dutch and if they dont win, it will a big disgrace on the dutch football and their hierarchy for being caged in the fanatasy of old legacys, past culture and not wanting to see out of the box.

      There cannot be any excuses this time around especially come the hnext generation who are set to take the centre stage. The only thing thats missing is an open mind set approach from top to bottom.

  10. We can hope all we want for 2024-26 but if something good is going to happen the work begins now.

    Instead of Clasie try Schoueten. Instead of de Roon why not Matusiwa. That’s what any other top nation would do with prospects in positions they clearly lack.

    But I hearken back to my last post. We all know the probability is next to nil because you and I and probably any football fan in Holland with an ounce of sense Will be thinking the same.

    They will continue to slice of parts to spite their faces. Better than listening to suggestions however obvious.

  11. @Orangutan

    its not something new what you are saying and I agree. From Buttner, chery, ziyech,Gosens, Struijk, karsdorp its all over the wall. One of the drawbacks for the NT recently, has been the fact that KNVB and including the jury/management continue to be fascinated and closely attached to ajax that they think the ajax dutch players can replicate the same in NT like they do when playing for ajax dominated by foregin players. tadic, antony, haller,alverez, mazzouri, martinez, taglifico, kudus, etc. I mean you look at berhguis, he should never be in the NT, but he is there becuase he thrives in that ajax setup and the jury thinks he can do the same in NT which again hasnt lived up to expectation considering his inconsistency in certain types of games. They still wanna drag with him and again look at how he got the nod at AM after switching there at Ajax. I really dont understand this when Til at feyenoord already is in top form playing as a natural AM and doesnt get the nod . Throwing the argument here that berghuis has more caps and therefore deserves the nod ahead of him is absloute rubbish.you have to look at the overall ceiling of a player and thats where it should come down to as to who gets the nod. For the record im not anti ajax but the system needs to change and players recognized for their talents and not where they play

    Then comes the madness of make shift players who can cover up for multiple position over players who can better reinforce the team ruining their opportunity.Again Rensch/ Timber for karsdorp.Blind as well who will go down in history as the weakest but undisputable defender of all time.

    Also on what you said,

    “We can hope all we want for 2024-26 but if something good is going to happen the work begins now”

    Im in the opinon that team will automatically click with the right players and we have seen this the past.I mean 90s and 00s. Just like how danjuma and lang have added depth to the squad in terms of attacking options. Its a pity though they havnt been able to clock much minutes because of another maddness. Change of formation when there is no need to.

    1. I think a lot of your “conclusions” are wrong. The comparison of Berghuis and Til is just not as you say. Til is a decent player. On the ball he can play along. He is great at picking his runs and score goals. He also works like a horse and is a lovable guy. The ideal benchwarmer for the NT.

      Berghuis has more. Berghuis can play playmaker, winger and has a gifted left foot. This can not be said of Til. You are comparing apples w pears. Til spent 3 years in the desert and is good again at Eredivisie level. But Ajax and PSV would not sign him.

      Berghuis was already part of the NT squad before he left for Ajax.

  12. @Wilson

    Re: They still wanna drag with him and again look at how he got the nod at AM after switching there at Ajax

    There are so many little things like this it’s almost impossible to catch them all. Never thought of it until you brought it up😂😂. The excuse for Berghuis at first was that the Dutch way of football can’t be complete until there is a left-footed right winger to balance the team’s equilibrium. He bombed.

    Another thing, conditions and talent barriers like this are real talk in their circles like how they also need a certain-footed player for CB positions.

    Then the Ajax switch of Berghuis to AM and a whole country football management changed its tune to accommodate him in that position. The man is not a Pirlo nor assist or score but they had to do it because Ajax did. And like you said, Til couldn’t be any worse and also not an old dog but open to major improvements.

    They simply can’t get out of their own way. Forever creating scenarios and conditions that eliminates any possibility of trying something outside of what they’ve concocted.

    Phew! If only the heart can be dictated to…

  13. I think the most important thing to remember is that the system is more important than the individual. At the highest level of sports, technical ability becomes less important, and the top professionals are the ones that excel Mentally, Physically and Tactically. Often we think that throwing in a technically flashy player with good stats will automatically fit in and fix what is broken.

    We’ve seen teams in the past full of the best players that don’t work. PSG, Real Madrid. They’re all teams that shove their best 11 players into the lineup and then find out that it doesn’t work. Another good example would be James Rodriguez or Isco at Real Madrid. Both of them were brilliant 10’s in a system that didn’t use a number 10, so they sat on the bench and rotted away. On the flip side, trying to change an entire system to fit one player is equally foolish.

    You need to think of football coaches like chefs. And maybe van Gaal has this amazing Cod recipe. It’s one of the only things he can cook, but its amazing. Now, if you go up to him with this super expensive piece of salmon, it might be technically a better fish, but could potentially ruin the recipe. van Gaal could try to cook a dish using salmon, but he might not have the ingredients to work with it.

    That being said, I do agree Karsdrop deserves some time, but it will be hard for him to get past Dumfries. Til is also a good shout at 10, but I’d prefer Lang there.

    @Wilson, the reason that the team in the 90’s, 2000’s instantly clicked was because they were all Ajax players and spent years playing together in an Ajax system, and Holland back then was basically just Ajax. Players don’t magically just work together.

  14. All the excuses in the world can’t explain away Dutch management’s bias, stubbornness, spite, vindictiveness and this idea of Oranje exceptionalism(doesn’t exist btw)

    I have repeatedly said that these coaches generally know more about football than the layman. They certainly do not know more than the hard truth of Common Sense and logic though. Even if it is invalidated in their eyes because it is accessible to the common man in the street.

    They can try to paint themselves as sophisticated, intricate and above the fray as you would like, but the tenets of Common Sense still have to be abided to. I don’t care what kind of recipe you own as a chef and how complicated it is, you still need salt, fire and some sort of cooking vessel. They complicating the issue to the point where logic tells the layman it’s BS is simply BS on their part. And besides, the layman have the comfort of knowing that these dishes and recipes have mostly and shockingly proved unpalatable.

    Karsdorp, the enigma of Blind’s untouchability, the prolonged neglect of players like Danjuma, Lang, elevating de Roon to prime Viera status and NEVER trying any DM option, appointment of FDB etc are things that we commoners can see for what they are. I don’t need to have coached a team to champions league success to know this. Again, it is Common Sense. Still undefeated.

  15. @ Derekvdberg91

    “I think the most important thing to remember is that the system is more important than the individual.

    I dont agree with this at all and it depends on whats on the table. 2014 for example, the change of formation would not have thrived without Robben, before that in 2010 van mawjik also changed the formation based on what he had. I mean De Jong and van bommel infront of an average backline. Under Danny Blind, Robben was the main protagonist and was heavily relied on but then even he couldnt carry it alone on his shoulders. In his absence the team looked toothless and defensively got pegged.

    you can also contrast this to FDB tenure as NT coach. He changed the formatiom but he didnt have the x factor meaning players whom could complement the formation. He overlooked danjuma, lang and with Van dijk and bergwijn both injured changing formation was out of despairty and to make team look stronger and compact on paper.

    System needs the right players and you dont need to look far to see this. Galiter lille, Nice, simeone Atletico, Emery Villareal, conte juventus/ inter

    “At the highest level of sports, technical ability becomes less important, and the top professionals are the ones that excel Mentally, Physically and Tactically.

    I presume the top professionals you mean here are the coaching staff. If that’s the case than Deschamps and France is a perfect example to refute your claims. Same goes for 2002 qualifers disaster with van gaal. Again its debatable

    “Often we think that throwing in a technically flashy player with good stats will automatically fit in and fix what is broken”

    Why not and again it depends on whats on the table. Are you saying a player like danjuma or lang cannot improve the offensive threat of the team over berghuis for instance. Look at how Bergwijn has relegated malen to bench as he continues to look more explosive and clincal than malen. I can tell you Malen will fade away with more competition upfront. Zirkzee, piroe etc who are coming up. He defintely is not a winger and neither will he survive competition from lang, gakpo, danjuma. This is beauty about competition and it paves way for improvment in the team

    “We’ve seen teams in the past full of the best players that don’t work. PSG, Real Madrid. They’re all teams that shove their best 11 players into the lineup and then find out that it doesn’t work. Another good example would be James Rodriguez or Isco at Real Madrid. Both of them were brilliant 10’s in a system that didn’t use a number 10, so they sat on the bench and rotted away.”

    Again you are comparing apple to oranges here. NT is not PSG or Madrid and neither they are a team overloaded with big names.deficincies exist in the team. Its evident, as in creativity department( midfield) and any player of Isco or Rodriquez esque would be an upgrade to klaassen, Berghuis or Wijnaldum. The LB situation as well.

    On another note both Isco and Rodriquez are injury prone players and one of the reason why they lost their spots to more consistent and lesser injury prone players. It was nothing to do with them playing the same position.

    “On the flip side, trying to change an entire system to fit one player is equally foolish”

    Well then maybe you can explain or whats your opinon on Van gaal motive to switch to three man CB scarficing top wingers which again is maddness and nothing else.

  16. @Jan

    Re: You two are like Waldorf and Statler of the Muppets 🙂

    Bro you can refer to us by whatever name that tickles your fancy but it is still not going to fundamentally change how broken Dutch management is.

    It’s not going to change the fact that the player, in Berghuis, whom they’ve been forcing and accommodating and trying to squeeze in to be the fulcrum of our attack has managed 2 goals in the span of 7 years for Oranje. That’s a 35 game span and for more clarity, both against Gibraltar and Latvia. It doesn’t change the fact that he has to be shuttled around the team to fit in, be better, and still nothing to show for it.

    We can bring up Karsdorp and Blind and FDB but we are not going to do that.

    Instead we will talk about Blindsr who arguably has the most abysmal record amongst any of our coaches in recent memory. He is now our assistant after being sacked for not been good enough just a few years back. If you want to see the imagery of a dog chasing its tail, this is it. Oranje in a nutshell.

  17. Joel piroe scored another two goals for swansea. The game vs Bournemouth ended in 3-3 draw. He tskes his tally to 22 gosls for the season. Highest for any dutch player.

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.