The Lowdown: Davy Klaassen – with Alex Moretto

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Davy Klaassen has joined Everton from Ajax this summer and his arrival has sparked excitement amongst our fan base, below I get the thoughts of Football Writer Alex Moretto on the Dutchman. 

Davy Klaassen has just joined Everton from Ajax in a big money deal, what exactly should Evertonians expect from the Dutch international and is he worth the fee?

Evertonians should expect a player who will leave everything out on the pitch – someone who will bust his arse for the club match in, match out. He’s known for his distribution skills as well as his ability to time late runs into the box and finish with lethal accuracy.

Klaassen eventually became Ajax captain during his time there, does this typify his leadership qualities?

Absolutely. He leads by example. You will not find someone who works harder at their trade than Klaassen. His passion is unrivalled.

Ajax released a video wishing their former captain good luck when the deal was announced, what was his relationship like with Ajax fans and does he go with their best wishes?

Klaassen was and will continue to be adored by the Ajax faithful. The knowledgeable fan base in Amsterdam appreciates everything he gave to the club both on and off the pitch. An Ajax supporter himself, Klaassen cultivated an excellent relationship with the F-Side, taking his role as skipper very seriously.

How would you describe Klaassen’s best attributes?

I’ve answered this throughout the rest of the questions. But to summarise: leadership, work rate, distribution, goalscoring, link-up play, timing late runs into the box, finishing.

Is he a goalscoring midfielder and if so what was his goal and assist record in Holland?

He’s a goalscoring midfielder with great playmaking abilities, and noted by his career trajectory below, his production has improved with each passing season. Indicated below are Eredivisie stats, with numbers across all competitions in brackets. 

2013/14: 10 goals, 3 assists, 26 apps (12 goals 4 assists, 42 apps)

2014/15: 6 goals, 9 assists, 30 apps (8 goals, 12 assists, 43 apps)

2015/16: 13 goals, 8 assists, 31 apps (15 goals, 10 assists, 41 apps)

2016/17: 14 goals, 10 assists, 33 apps (20 goals, 12 assists, 50 apps)

In recent times how did Ajax set up and how did Klaassen fit into the side – what is his best position?

While he has the stamina to play in the two of a 4-2-3-1, it is a waste of his strongest assets. Klaassen played in the advanced role in a 4-3-3 midfield with Ajax, not a lot different than playing the number-10 role in a 4-2-3-1, as likely would be the case under Koeman. You want Klaassen playing in a central role where he can distribute the ball, but that being said, he does have the flexibility to play out wide as well.

Is there a specific type of player which Klaassen has flourished playing alongside?

No.

If you was to compare Klaassen to any other current Premier League midfielder who would it be?

People have the tendency to jump right to Christian Eriksen when looking for a Klaassen comparison, but that’s not the case. Other than their Ajax roots, there’s not a whole lot of similarities between the two. The late Johan Cruyff compared Klaassen to the likes of Toni Kroos and Xavi, high praise from such a well-respected man, and an apt comparison as well. He’s also been heavily likened to a Dennis Bergkamp, due to his goalscoring ability and impressive work rate. As far as current Premier League midfielders, some names that pop into mind are Dele Alli, Georginio Wijnaldum and Aaron Ramsey.

Do you think the 24 year old can get even better after linking up with Ronald Koeman?

Since breaking into the Ajax first team, Klaassen has consistently taken steps forward in his development. Every season he seems to have added a new skill to his arsenal, taking perhaps the biggest leap this past season under Peter Bosz. At the ripe age of 24, possessing all the tools necessary to develop into an elite talent, there’s no reason to suggest he will not improve even further under the tutelage of Ronald Koeman.

There is speculation surrounding Ross Barkley’s future at Goodison Park, do you see Klaassen as a direct replacement for Barkley or could he play alongside him (maybe ahead of him)?

Klaassen belongs in, and would thrive in, a number-10 role, but his stamina and work ethic provide Koeman with the flexibility to drop him a bit deeper in midfield should he chose.

Are there any negative features to Klaassen’s game?

He scores big goals and thrusts himself into the heart of his side’s attacking play, but his ability to consistently create over the course of his career has yet to be proven. He impressed in 2016/17, putting up strong numbers, but was that a product of Klaassen’s development as a footballer or was it the beneficiary of playing in Peter Bosz’s system? That remains to be seen.

Do you think he will hit the ground running in the Premier League?

Klaassen’s tenacity and passion should make for an easier transition to the Premier League, as he will have few adjustments to make to the intensity and demand of England’s top flight.

Any thoughts on Everton ahead of the new season?

Led by a technically proficient manager with a clear vision in Ronald Koeman, Everton could be ready to compete for top-four once again. The midfield has few holes, if any, complimented by an experienced backline. A healthy Yannick Bolasie would provide an immediate boost, but competition on the wings in scarce. Koeman should look to bring in another attacker to push the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Enner Valencia. Then of course the big variable is who will be leading the line next season? As far as character goes, Everton have it in spades. The first team is filled with selfless, hard-working individuals both capable and willing to carry out Koeman’s vision.

Big Thanks to Alex for his thoughts 

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