Wolfsburg’s Micky van de Ven loan move could resolve Celtic left-side defensive weakness
As Celtic seek to strengthen their key positions Ahead of a title challenge this year, much of the excitement has surrounded the three Japanese players signed so far, and that’s understandable.
After all, Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi all seem like players who can immediately improve midfield and striking options. And with plenty of injuries and thinness, especially in the number eight position and in the wide areas, it was essential for Ange Postecoglou to have players ready for the first team to allow for the necessary rotation his punitive philosophy demands. The addition of a young but exciting prospect in Sligo Rovers’ Johnny Kenny may also see a new attack, but it’s likely Kenny will start his career, at least initially in Tommy McIntyre’s B-team.
However, there remains an argument that Celtic defensively remain unbalanced. This is especially clear with Carl Starfelt, a player unfairly pilloried despite being a right-footed central defender, and who has been asked, due to the lack of left-foot options within the ‘team to function as a left central defender.
It is a strange anomaly in football that right-handed players in central defense often switch between left and right central positions, but in the Ange Postecoglou system, where the full-backs are reversed, there is an obvious danger, without ability to receive the ball on your natural foot and play a high line to start, those precious seconds during which the player switches from their less natural foot to their most comfortable foot, or challenges with their weaker choice, can have an impact on the overall efficiency of the system.
There is also an argument that a lack of real rhythm in all the center-backs employed at the club negates the effectiveness of a system that plays such a high defensive line, and as such in transition can be open to quick opponents on the counter, and one with acres to go. The same goes for the lack of a center-back who can break lines and free up midfield and attacking options, as Kris Ajer did admirably before his move to Brentford.
Celtic of course tried to correct that balance last year but failed to accept Liverpool’s Ben Davies deal from Preston but they have not sought to revisit this squad shortcoming since.
This is perhaps understandable, given the emergency surgery required for almost every Celtic first-team position last summer. But now you could say the squad is maybe five players away from a European standard, not to mention a squad capable of competing in a national environment.
True competition for Joe Hart, a left-back to challenge Greg Taylor, another number eight midfielder to add to Reo Hatate – assuming Riley McGree actually picks the championship over the tantalizing prospect of Champions League football – for allow Turnbull and Rogic to be properly shot, a right winger with cunning to unlock defenses to balance the direct nature of Abada and Forrest, and then there’s that left center back. Add those players between this window and the next and there is an argument that the seemingly impossible rebuild could be almost complete in all three transfer windows.
Still, with funds getting tighter the more we spend, and with a scouting system you’d assume in transition, there’s a case to be made for lending options, perhaps with the option to buy, which has served us well with Cameron Carter Vickers and Jota.
A player who would be suitable for the central defensive option on the left side was a player who won the Eerste Divisie, Best Talent Award last season and who, after an impressive season with FC Volendam, of which he was already captain, has made the jump to the second level of the Netherlands. alongside Bundesliga Wolfsburg. He also made the List 2020 as one of Holland’s most exciting talents.
Micky van de Ven at 20 is a superbly talented defender, and although he is attached to the Mino Raiola agency, he is currently the one who does not play too much football. Raiola is unlikely to allow this to continue for much longer.
Under the leadership of Wim Jonk, Van de Ven made a name for himself at FC Volendam. Under normal circumstances, he may have stayed there. However, after missing a promotion there was always a chance that he would move on to make sure he leveled up. Wolfsburg won the race, but there is an argument that an intermediate step in a top club and one with European football may have been a more stable slope than heading straight for the Bundesliga where each point is a prisoner and where gradual progression is not always possible.
However, in Scotland, Micky van de Ven could have taken the plunge. He could have faced less sophisticated opponents in Scotland. He could have been hardened against quick and physical opposition as opposed to the Holland-cultivated approach, and from there he could have bridged the gap in second-tier Dutch football before joining one of the Big Four. . Now, however, he’s in limbo, with a lonely appearance to his name but no less promising.
For Celtic there is an opportunity to pick a player in Wolfsburg, but one that could resolve Celtic’s balance issues in central defense. A loan deal would likely work for both teams and an option, rather than an obligation to buy, could provide the security both sides might need, if the deal was drafted to suit both Celtic and Wolfsburg. .
So what about the strengths and weaknesses of the players?
Well, Micky van de Ven ticks a lot of boxes for an Angel system. He is 6ft 3 tall and he is also an athletic and agile player. He is someone who likes to engage with his opponents early and get the ball back immediately when possession is lost.
Van de Ven also has good acceleration over shorter distances and can vary his pace efficiently. He also uses his long stride to cover the ground, making him an ideal defender for a team playing on a high defensive line. He also has the ability to advance the ball into the opposing half of the field and is comfortable with the ball at his feet.
As such, Ajer’s missing approach can help break lines and disrupt low-block defensive and mid-lines, and just like Ajer, his ball protection and physical character make it difficult for opponents to engage. with success.
Of course, as with any gamer, there are downsides to Micky van de Ven.
At 20 and with only 49 games to his name, and all but one in the Dutch Second Division, it can be said that there is inexperience to contend with. And as with any young center-back, technical skills should always come with playing time.
The time to engage and sit down is also a work in progress. However, it must be said that in a Postecoglou system the option to sit seems redundant, as the manager prefers an early engagement when possession is lost, something Carl Starfelt could benefit from with a bit of indulgence in this regard.
After all, the manager asks less of Tony Ralston than when Josip Juranovic operates at right-back, less of Liam Scales at left-back as opposed to the tactical demands placed on Greg Taylor, and higher up the pitch the manager is ready to tweak things. when David Turnbull plays, we demand even more of Tom Rogic. As such, any naivety in terms of engagement could be granted to Micky Van De Ven, especially if both of the top two full-backs were available for selection.
However, Micky van de Ven’s technical abilities far exceed anything the player can suffer from. Indeed, anything negative can simply be attributed to his current stage of footballing development and the naivety of his youth.
When Van de Ven moved to Wolfsburg it was too good an opportunity for the player to decline, but it seems the Bundesliga’s almost level playing field is hampering his chances. The manager may well assess his abilities, but the Eerste Divisie’s jump may weigh heavily on his thoughts when choosing his squad, but such reluctance could be to Celtic’s advantage.
Come to Celtic and the gap between its history and its ceiling becomes more manageable and come on loan at the start and neither team has anything to lose.
Should the player succeed, however, an element of doubt remains with Wolfsburg as to whether this progression in the Scottish Premiership, or even the Europa Conference League, as a third tier competition in Europe, remains sufficient to warrant a starting position in a Bundesliga team.
If that doubt persists and Celtic are happy with what they get, a permanent deal may well be possible.
As such for Celtic, a move, initially on loan, could and should be a no-brainer when it comes to Micky van de Ven. There is simply nothing to lose and maybe everything to gain.
Celtic need to ask Wolfsburg that question in this window though, as it will probably be January or never as far as Micky van de Ven is concerned, because once he gets his chance to shine he will grab it in Wolfsburg and the gate. for Celtic will likely close for good.