Vincent Janssen has become one of the hottest prospects in the Dutch Eredivisie this season. After finishing the season as top scorer with 27 goals, the AZ Alkmaar striker has been dubbed the new “Ruud van Nistelrooy” by pundits everywhere. It came as no surprise that the 21-year old won the Johan Cruyff Prize last week for ‘most talented player of the year’.
After spending 4 years in Feyenoord youth teams and two seasons at Almere City in the Jupiler League, Vincent Janssen signed for AZ Alkmaar at the start of the 2015/16 season. His impact this season has been extraordinary. Not only for AZ, but also for the national team. He made his debut for Holland on 18 March 2016, against France. However, his performance against England four days later was the more noteworthy one. In his first starting spot for the national team, he scored and assist once in Holland’s 2-1 over England. Important to note is that his goal was a penalty. He WANTED to take the penalty on his first full debut for the national team – and he finished it like a real striker would: cold blooded. His name was all over the papers the next day and rightfully so. It shows Janssen has no problem adapting to a higher level of play.
Janssen is an old fashioned striker. Most importantly, he is two footed! That makes him incredibly unpredictable and versatile. Of his 27 Eredivisie goals he scored 15 with his left and 10 with his right foot. This is an incredible stat but it also shows his biggest weakness: he is only 180cm tall. He only scored with his head twice this season. That’s not really a problem for Arsenal though, as we are not known for our great crosses anyway…
Janssen is deadly in front of goal. That is mainly where the Van Nistelrooy comparisons come from. Janssen is a terrific finisher, not only close but also far away from goal. He is much more than just a finisher though. I would say he is a very smart player. He knows how to make a run and his position is top notch. He is great at holding up the ball with his back to the goal. He also has decent pace and dribbling. He is not only good at dribbling, but also great at passing the ball. He is like Karim Benzema but without the laziness and dare I say it, maybe even comparable to Harry Kane. Another important strength is his character. He is a hard worker with great mentality. His former coach at Almere City, Fred Grim says Janssen is always willing to learn. He is very open and dedicated, an easy player to coach.
It is no surprise to me to see Arsenal linked with Vincent Janssen. Our fans have been whining for a new striker the entire season and it’s hard to blame them. Giroud simply does not cut it at the highest level. So where does Vincent Janssen fit in?
I think Janssen would be a great fit for our team. Along with Alexis Sanchez, we would have a very mobile forward line. With Özil behind him, I am certain Janssen would bag quite a lot of goals. He is different from Giroud in that he actually knows how to run. He is the perfect striker for someone like Özil, who loves giving through balls. His weakness is not even a weakness for Arsenal. He might not score a lot of headers but we are not a team known for crossing anyway. The only players that really attempt to make high crosses are our fullbacks. With all the creativity around him, I can definitely see Janssen thrive in our system. You could compare it to how Danny Welbeck thrives in our system, but with a way better finisher.
Get your replica wall clock here
So does that mean I want Arsenal to sign him up this summer? Well, yes and no. Keep in mind that this was his first season in top flight. Sure, it was one hell of a season but we should not overestimate it. He is only 21 years old and still unproven internationally. A lot of Dutch top scorers do not manage to replicate their form in higher leagues. Look at arguably one of the best players in the Eredivisie right now, Luuk de Jong. Admittedly, he has grown a lot since he joined PSV. But not before failing in Germany and England after leaving FC Twente in 2012.
My point is that Janssen should not rush things. He is young and undoubtedly very talented. However the Premier League is a total different beast compared to the Eredivisie. Here is where I would like to mention the Van Nistelrooy comparisons again. Like Janssen, Van Nistelrooy was highly rated back when he was at Heerenveen. He had gotten numerous offers from foreign clubs after his first season there. But Van Nistelrooy chose to go to PSV first and look how that paid off in the end: a transfer to Manchester United. I hope Janssen follows in his footsteps and makes the move to Ajax or PSV. That is probably the best thing for his development right now.
I really wonder where Janssen will end up. It seems pretty likely Janssen will leave AZ this summer. He has even said so himself. The problem here is that he still has a contract at AZ till 2019. This means his price might be a bit too high for the Dutch top clubs. I am not certain the big foreign clubs have the courage to sign him just yet, but who knows. As of now, Janssen is still too unproven and unexperienced for me. He might be worth a shot though. I am a huge fan and even after all these doubts, I wouldn’t mind us signing him. The sad reality is that there are very few word class strikers on the market right now, so Wenger doesn’t have a lot of options. He is not the world class striker we have lacked for years but he is young and fits our system.
At the moment, it seems impossible to sign someone worse than Giroud. Giroud needs competition to thrive. If we do sign Janssen this summer, I’m sure he will give Giroud a run for his money even in his first season. There is enough evidence here that shows Janssen has the potential to become the top class striker we need.
Thanks to our Dutch expert guest my god friend Austin Ellinor @Frimponged