Newcastle have been heavily linked with young Dutch anchorman Vurnon Anita, a man whose star has risen so rapidly at Ajax that he's already being compared to Clarence Seedorf. Here's why he can succeed at St James Park...
Vurnon Anita is a name that many football fans around the world didn’t know before he was being linked to English clubs like Newcastle United and Sunderland a few weeks ago. His increasing reputation is to some extent a reward for what he showed this past season.
Vurnon Anita was born on April 4, 1989 in Willemstad, Curaçao’s capital. Curaçao is a constituent country of the Netherlands and one of the three ABC Islands. When Anita was just eight months old, his parents moved to Holland but returned to his birthplace when he was six. While he hasn’t been in Holland for that long, he already started his football career there at VV Maarssen (his local amateur club). Once back in Curaçao he showed more interest in playing baseball (a very popular sport there).
Despite all this his parents encouraged him to continue playing football because of the better future perspectives. They decided to move back to Holland when Anita was eight years old. In this country he had better opportunities to develop his talent. His parents did everything for him to create the best environment to become a professional football player. In Holland he joined VV Maarssen for the second time in his short life. A year later, in a game against his peers of AFC Ajax, scouts saw the little boy could kick a ball. A while after, he was officially scouted at the Ajax Talent Days and in 1999 he joined the club to wear the famous red and white.
The only man to make his Ajax debut younger went by the name of Clarence Seedorf.
The years Anita spend in the famous Ajax academy weren’t the easiest for him. The combination of school and the higher level of playing football were tough. But one of his strengths is to never give up, and so he didn’t. As a reward for all the work he has done, he made his official debut on March 19, 2006 against FC Groningen at the age of just 16 years old. The only man to make his Ajax debut younger went by the name of Clarence Seedorf.
It wasn’t before 2009-10 before he became a regular fixture. Leftback Urby Emanuelson was suspended and Timothée Atouba was injured, Martin Jol gave him a chance to play in that position. Left back wasn’t familiar to him, because he mostly played as a (defensive) midfielder during his years at the academy. Though his performance was that good, Martin Jol decided to keep him in that position for the rest of the season.
Martin Jol left in December 2010 and Frank de Boer joined Holland’s biggest club. Frank de Boer saw him as a defensive midfielder but due to injuries at the left and right back positions, he wasn’t really able to show how good he is at that spot. “The coach knows that I prefer to play as a defensive midfielder, circumstances mean I have to fill in at full-back, but I will always give my best”, Anita said.
As a full back he was never able to show what he’s fully capable of. Great games were followed by weak ones and people questioned if he was good enough. His answer came after last season’s winter break. Frank de Boer started the season with Theo Janssen as a defensive midfielder but found out this wasn’t the thing. Jan Vertonghen couldn’t make his regular runs from deep because Janssen is not the one to take over his position at CB which Anita does. There were misunderstanding between midfielders and forwards. Due to injured strikers, De Boer decided to play Siem de Jong as a striker, Christian Eriksen as right midfielder and Janssen on the left. The spot left was for Vurnon Anita to take and he showed he is the perfect man to be a defensive midfielder in this Ajax system.
once in possession his passing coupled with great football intelligence makes him perfect for the ‘number six’ role, or controlling playmaker
Once he played at his favourite position, Ajax won fourteen games in a row and were crowned as champions of Holland for the second year in a row. You can say the keystone was Anita. “Nice statistics,” he said, grinning after being told Ajax have never dropped any points whenever he’s played in midfield. “But we do it together, the team is now more balanced, we still miss some players but their replacements have done a good job.”
It’s often said the best things come in small packages, at 5 foot 6 Vurnon Anita is not the most physically imposing but he compensates this with acuteness. Anita has a playing style I would compare him to Clarence Seedorf. He runs across the pitch following the ball, once in possession his passing coupled with great football intelligence makes him perfect for the ‘number six’ role, or controlling playmaker, as De Boer would say. He’s strong on and off the ball in chosing the perfect postion to regain or pass the ball. He can dictate the tempo: whether Ajax needs to slow things down or raise it. More than anything the entire midfield, which was disjointed at the start of the season, is now more balanced, proactive and fluid.
Vurnon Anita is interested in hearing what clubs has to offer him but he also wants to hear what his perfectives are at Ajax. It’s not an easy sum that when a big club comes in, Anita leaves. He knows he’ll be a regular at his boyhood club. He knows there’s still a lot to learn for him. He knows there’s a chance to be called up for Oranje is he continues where he finished last season. Let’s not forget he has just played fourteen games in his favourite position to show the world how good he actually is.
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