This article forms part of our Total Duds feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
In August 2017, Sheffield Wednesday made a significant investment when they signed Joost van Aken from Heerenveen (via BBC Sport).
The Owls paid a fee of £2.7 million for the Dutch defender according to Transfermarkt, a sizeable amount for a club in the second tier of English football to spend on a centre-half. Indeed, given the current strength of their defence this season – having conceded the joint-fewest amount of goals in the second-tier prior to this weekend’s fixture, now seems like a good time to look back to when the backline wasn’t as tight.
Naturally, there was lots of excitement about his arrival given the fee, and by September, he found himself in the starting 11 for the South Yorkshire club.
He went on to start 14 of the first 19 league matches that he was at the club for, but in truth, he didn’t really manage to impress.
The Owls managed to keep just three clean sheets in the 14 games van Aken played in (Transfermarkt), and he was part of a defence which conceded four goals at home against arch-rivals Sheffield United in the Steel City derby (via BBC Sport).
His season was ultimately ended by a hamstring injury which he picked up on Boxing Day against Nottingham Forest (Transfermarkt), so it was a disappointing first campaign at Hillsborough for him.
He returned to action on the opening day of the 2018/19 season, and was included in the starting 11 for their game against Wigan Athletic.
It was another bad day at the office for him though, with the Owls shipping three goals at the DW Stadium and losing the game 3-2 (Transfermarkt).
He was subsequently dropped from the team following that performance and didn’t feature again in the league that season, with his only other appearance being in an EFL Cup tie against Sunderland (Transfermarkt).
Having not used him for what was effectively a full season, Sheffield Wednesday decided to let van Aken leave the club in the summer just gone. He ended up joining Bundesliga 2 side VfL Osnabruck on loan for the 2019/20 season (via swfc.co.uk).
That means that in total the Dutchman made just 16 appearances in all competitions for the Owls (Transfermarkt). It would be fair, therefore, to say that they did not get their money’s worth from van Aken, although he could still come back and play for the club again if he does well whilst out on loan.
With the likes of Julian Borner dominating in the air these days (winning 4.8 aerial duels per game prior to this weekend as per WhoScored), making van Aken’s numbers of 2.5 per game over the same period during his busiest campaign in the Steel City look really rather weak.
As the Owls battle towards the top end of the table, looking back on a dud like this one helps show just how far they’ve come since the season 2017/18 season, where they finished in 15th.
Sheffield Wednesday fans, how poor was Joost van Aken during his time at Hillsborough? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
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