EXCLUSIVE: Insider View on Joost van Aken
Earlier in the summer, you may have seen a collaboration between us and Michael Statham of Football Oranje, in order for us to interview Owls captain, Glenn Loovens (if not, we highly recommend you check that out)! Now, we're back at it again with a different Dutch connection: new signing, Joost van Aken. Read our interview below with Michael Statham.
TS: Who is he?
MS: Joost van Aken is a 23-year-old central defender who has played for Dutch Eredivisie side Heerenveen since his professional debut as a teenager. Upon his breakthrough for the Frisians, van Aken was considered one of the future defenders for the Netherlands` national team - but is yet to earn a cap for the senior side. Van Aken did, however, gain nearly 100 league appearances for Heerenveen.
TS: What are his strengths?
MS: At 6 foot 4 inches, van Aken`s height is a key tool to defend well in air and his commanding mentality helps him win duels with strikers.
Like any Dutch defender, he can pass the ball well around the back but is also known for his accurate, forceful tackles. Personally, I am a fan of van Aken but don`t think he`ll make it any higher than the level presented by the Eredivisie or the Championship, during his career.
TS: Any weaknesses?
MS: Don`t get too excited, Wednesday fans! Van Aken is a very able defender who played in a centre-back duo with talent Jerry St Juste last season. St Juste was snapped up by champions Feyenoord, but van Aken is the lesser of the two. Van Aken has been riddled by minor, muscle injuries in his career so far and his assertive style has led to a couple of red cards in the past. More importantly, it`s difficult to judge just how good the defender is when you consider Heerenveen`s tactics. In the Eredivisie, the club is renowned for attacking football as well as bringing up and selling its forwards - Sam Larsson, Hakim Ziyech and Miralem Sulejmani to name but a few. The tactics leave gaps at the back and very few clean sheets for the Frisians - only one in the last seven league games featuring van Aken - typical of Heerenveen`s defensive form, despite regularly finishing in the top-half of the table. Players often left unmarked is one issue but also a lack of composure when holding on to a lead. Van Aken is not the sole responsibility of the poor record though, and could appear to carry more quality in a more defensive, English outfit.
TS: As someone who knows about both English and Dutch football, would van Aken adapt easily to English football?
MS: This relates to my final point above, where van Aken could turn out to be a great player in a more protective and cohesive unit, where concentration is not quite as important as it is in the Eredivisie. As always, height and strength is a useful factor in the Championship and Glenn Loovens, a fellow Dutchie, will help the 23-year-old settle into England and Wednesday`s team. The promise surrounding the youngster as a teenager was never realised but it wouldn`t be surprising should van Aken stand out in the Championship.
TS: Have other teams been interested?
MS: The grapevine suggests that both Roma and Lazio were taking a look at van Aken, but that could be pure speculation. If anything, there has not been any notable interest in the defender during his career up until now, given his relative lack of development. Heerenveen haven`t fully prepared for the defender`s departure. 17-year-old Kik Pierie is a name to listen out for within the next five years as he looks to fill the void, but the Dutch club have a lack of options past the teenager, suggesting this was a surprise move for the club as well.
We'd like to thank Michael for his time with the production of this piece, and look forward to any collaborations with Football Oranje in the future!