One European youngster that will be plying his trade in the Premier League before long is Ajax’s Gregory van der Wiel. The 21-year-old right back is attracting interest from a number of sides in the Premier League, including Arsenal and Manchester City.
Van der Wiel made his debut for Ajax on March 2007 in a 4–1 away win against FC Twente. He made a further three appearances that season. But it wasn’t until the following year that he cemented his place in the first team. He started life off as a centre-back but was converted to full-back by Marco van Basten and excelled in his new role.
At the end of last season he was given the ‘Ajax Talent of the Year’ award and also made his debut for the Dutch national side in February 2009 against Tunisia. He has since gone on to make a further six appearances for the Oranje.
A marauding full-back he is a player that likes to get forward and attack, and can also chip in with the odd goal or two. He also looks up to Dani Alves, currently one of the best right-backs in the game.
“We do have the same style, we both play the whole right flank. Creating combinations, taking a man on, crossing the ball in and scoring. I feel much better on the flank than centrally. My ambitions are open. I don’t play to become a good solid Eredivisie player. I want to make it to the European top. And I’m not good enough to do that as a center back. Or good, good… I just don’t have the physical make up. Most center backs are strong, tall blokes. I think I have more chances to get there on the right flank,” Van der Wiel said of Alves.
First coming to the attention of Arsenal when they were tracking Thomas Vermaelen he is now on Manchester City’s radar, “I cannot deny that his progress is being monitored by many of the big clubs – including Manchester City,” his agent, Hakim Slimani has said.
The Ajax youngster has also said of his desire to play in the Premier League, “It’s great to hear that a big team such as Arsenal are keeping tabs on me. I feel like the Premier League will be perfect for me. Robin van Persie has told me a lot of promising stories about the Premier League, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Maybe he can put in a good word for me some day.”
A player that could cost upwards of £12 million, but going on his performances for both Ajax and Holland, it would appear to be money well spent, whichever club decides to spend it.
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