After the downright awful Hinrunde that VfL Wolfsburg suffered through, new signings this January were expected. With the Wolves close to the bottom three, they need to make the most of their money this window after the sale of Julian Draxler to PSG. So far, they’ve made three signings in Yunus Malli, Paul-Georges Ntep and Riechedly Bazoer. Most Bundesliga fans know about Malli and his talent, while Ntep has become a well-known player with his exploits in Ligue 1. But with Bazoer, not everyone knows what Wolfsburg are getting with the Dutchman. Here is all you need to know about the native of Utrecht who was signed by VfL to a contract for the next four and a half seasons.
Bazoer plays the central midfield position. He’s only 20 years old, and before coming to VFL he played for Dutch side Ajax after spending considerable time in the PSV youth system. Bazoer has long been one of the top prospects in the Netherlands, as English sides including Chelsea and Arsenal wanted him in 2012. But he chose Ajax, and he’s risen rapidly ever since he made his Ajax debut at 16 years old. His development under Frank de Boer was very well documented, as the Dutchman went from prodigy to a key player by the end of de Boer’s reign.
In de Boer’s final season in 2015-16, Bazoer was a key part of the Ajax first team that came so close to winning the title. The 20-year-old was in good form, as he registered 5 goals and 4 assists with a match rating of 7.18 from the midfield. He also passed at an 85% clip with 3 long balls per game in the Eredivisie. Bazoer’s shooting and passing at such a young age made him a hot commodity around Europe, as his impressive form continued around 14 months ago. Bazoer was rewarded for his play, as the Dutchman was called up to the Netherlands in October and November of 2015. He became a senior international at 19 years old, which shows how highly thought of he was in his home country. In three years he went from fresh face to international player, but his rapid rise came to a halt this season under new manager Peter Bosz.
He fell out of the first team picture very quickly with the new manager, who preferred the likes of Lasse Schone in the midfield. His falling out led to transfer speculation indicating that he would move this January, and as the month came closer his departure was inevitable. At Wolfsburg, Bazoer will look to find the form he had last season at Ajax. If he finds that form, with his talent, Wolfsburg could finally have found a replacement for the departed Kevin De Bruyne.
The reason why Bazoer rose so quickly from Ajax prospect to Netherlands international is because of the traits he possesses as a player. As a pure central midfielder, Bazoer is a very well rounded player. He is what some people call a “box to box midfielder” as Bazoer is all over the pitch when he plays. The Dutchman can be seen defending and making tackles in one box, or running into the other box firing a shot towards the goal.
His well-rounded play is only possible because of some of his best qualities. Bazoer’s great combination of speed and size is one of his best qualities. He stands at 6 feet tall while also showing the ability to move around the pitch quickly, which makes him able to maintain his dynamic playing style.
This style displays another one of his strengths, which is being able to shoot the ball from distance. He was able to score 5 goals because of his shot, and this thunderbolt against Feyenoord displayed his elite shooting ability. Besides being able to shoot the ball from long-range, Bazoer is also a good long passer of the ball. With Ajax, he often times would take the ball and spray it over full backs towards the wingers, which is why he averaged over 3 long balls per game. His ability to generate good chances with the long ball is something that made him indispensable for de Boer’s side. With solid dribbling ability and a fair share of experience Bazoer, Wolfsburg are getting a player with a lot of potential.
While Bazoer certainly has a lot of pluses as a player, he also has weaknesses and concerns. One of them is the fact that he’s never played in a league as competitive as the Bundesliga since he’s only played for Ajax. This is certainly concerning for Wolfsburg fans, considering the fact that recent Eredivisie signings such as Vincent Janssen have struggled abroad. Other stars in Holland that haven’t matched their form abroad include Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay, who both starred for PSV but haven’t hit top form outside of Holland.
But for Die Wolfe these players appear to be exceptions, as plenty of Eredivisie stars have become solid players. Recent stars who came from the Eredivisie include Arek Milik, Christian Eriksen, Daley Blind, and Georginio Wijnaldum. Wolfsburg fans can certainly hope that Bazoer plays as well as these guys have, because if he does, then Wolfsburg will certainly get the most of the money they paid for Bazoer.
The last concern for Wolfsburg should be Bazoer’s fitness. The Dutchman hasn’t played a lot of Football in any competition for Ajax this season, and most of the games he has gotten into have been via the bench. This means he might not be ready to play a full 90 minutes or start for Wolfsburg right away, which could make it tougher for him to adapt to the Bundesliga. If he fails to adapt very quickly, he could lose confidence and the fans could start to turn on him. While that is an unlikely scenario, Bazoer’s fitness is still something to watch. Even though his fitness is concerning, his young age and the long winter break should help Bazoer get closer to match fitness.
With all of Bazoer’s talent and his very modest age, Wolfsburg might have a really good player on their hands. If he takes advantage of his chances, Bazoer could be the next great young talent gracing the pitch in the Bundesliga.
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