Dutch media outlet BN Destrem reported [via Sport Witness] that Albion are keen on NAC Breda youngster Jan Paul van Hecke and are willing to meet the Dutch second tier outfit’s €2m (1.8m) asking price for the 20-year-old.
Van Hecke broke into NAC Breda’s first team last season, making 16 appearances and scoring three goals as his team finished fifth in the Eerste Divisie. He also continued to feature for their under-21 side and proved surprisingly prolific at that level, scoring six goals in nine games from centre-back.
A report from World Football Scouting cited the 6 ft 4 (1.9m) youngster as “a central defender with considerable physical structure, very strong in aerial play and good at setting up” chances. They also described him as a “strong and gritty character” who has become “one of the darlings of NAC fans”.
Van Hecke’s defensive nous could be a valuable commodity for Brighton if they sign him and lose Dunk to Chelsea. The Seagulls skipper won 2.8 headers and 1.1 tackles per game in the 2019/20 season, along with averaging 1.5 interceptions per match (as per WhoScored). Also, having started all but two of Albion’s Premier League games, the 28-year-old would leave fairly substantial boots to fill.
Brighton’s links with a Netherlands-based player ring a familiar tale. They have already raided the Dutch leagues this summer to sign another centre-back in Joel Veltman from Ajax, as well as luring the likes of Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Davy Propper and Jurgen Locadia (both PSV Eindhoven) from the Eredivisie in recent years.
The potential loss of their captain Dunk may understandably leave some Brighton fans concerned, although Graham Potter seems to be doing his utmost to ensure that he is well-equipped at centre-back if the skipper departs.
Would Van Hecke be an adequate replacement for Dunk if the Brighton skipper leaves?
Based on the scout reports on the 20-year-old, he looks like he could be Dunk’s long-term successor as a teak-tough defender who also has a knack for popping up with a few goals.
Brighton fans, do you think Van Hecke would be a good acquisition for the Seagulls? How big a blow would it be to lose Dunk? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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