Stefan De Vrij – A Preview
A Dutch born center-half currently playing for Serie A side S.S.Lazio, Stefan De Vrij has become one of the major talks of European football after announcing publicly on his social media accounts that a deal had fallen through with the Roman club. This allows the player to be available on a free transfer come the end of the season.
Permitted to negotiate terms with other clubs until his time at the Stadio Olimpico is over, many top sides in leagues such as the Serie A (ITA), La Liga (ESP), and the Premier League (ENG) have come to watch, and are interested in the defender.
In this article, I will be taking an in-depth glance at this player who has the potential to become one of the best ball-playing centre-backs within football.
History and Background
HOLLAND: Growing up in Ouderkerk aan den Ijssel, Holland, Stefan is the youngest of 3 sons of Jan de Vrij, who played for local club VV Spirit (this also happens to be where Stefan started his career, in 1997). After 5 years in his hometown, in 2002 De Vrij was recruited by Feyenoord who saw great potential and talent in the youngster. Taking him in as their own, he started off playing as a central midfielder, but was soon converted to a defender due to his large stature and defensive awareness. He made his debut on September 24th, 2009 and at the age of 18, and played steadily for the Dutch side that season, making 21 appearances.
The Dutch always have, and continue to, give youth an opportunity to rise and perform on the big stage. The story is no different for De Vrij, who became the captain of the Feyenoord squad in the 2012-2013 season. They have been very successful in this method, as we can see from the pool of talent below, the talent they have created. However, after another 5 seasons in Holland, De Vrij’s tenure was over – it was time was him to move on to a bigger European Club…
Arrival to Italy
On July 30th, 2014, after Holland’s terrific run in the World Cup, De Vrij signed for Serie A side S.S.Lazio for €9 million. Lazio’s director of communications, Stefano Di Martino, described him as “the best defender at the World Cup” and an “international signing for the club“.
“Lazio really proved that they wanted me and I am very happy I have made this move. I hope to become a more complete defender in Italy. I didn’t make my choice to join them overnight however. It is an informed decision which came about following many discussions with the club.” – De Vrij
After a successful first season, playing in 30 games in the league, and 5 in the Italian Cup, De Vrij looked to be the piece that Lazio were looking for in defense – someone who was well known worldwide with international experience, defending awareness, and quality with the ball; he had everything wanted from a player trying to play Italian football. However, at the start of his 2015/2016 season, he had major setback. After picking up a knee injury on International Duty, he had to undergo surgery and missed a year of action for the club, hindering his potential and development.
The Rise of Stefan De Vrij
The Eredivisie (Dutch League), has arguably the best academies in World Football, and like many of the defenders that have originated from Holland, De Vrij has shown that not only is he a player that is comfortable with the ball at both feet, but he has the quality to produce a good defensive, and attacking minded performance and become one of these highly rated defenders.
Since returning back to club action in the 2016/2017, De Vrij has become a regular for the Italian side, playing in the Serie A, Italian Cup, and Europa League. He is also a player who is capable of producing accurate and key passes, having a 91.8% passing completion rate this year in 31 appearances.
Despite the fact that many analysts and spectators believe that he is slow on and off the ball, De Vrij makes up for it with his knowledge and insight of the game which allows him to be in the right position, and cover for his mistakes quickly. Also being a defender for many coaches, he has had the chance to experience many formations – from 3, 4, or 5 at the back, showing his adaptability.
De Vrij’s career from 2013-Present are shown below:
Where Next For the Dutchman?
Well, despite a £31.5m market value, according to transfermarkt, De Vrij has signalled his intention to leave on a free this summer. Inter Milan are reportedly close to the Holland international’s signature. Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal have also all been battling it out for De Vrij.