AZ Alkmaar were KNVB Cup winners last season but had a very disappointing league run. What can we expect this time around, without their two stars of last season?

  • By Jake Davison
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AZAZ Alkmaar’s previous campaign was extremely mixed, but the team looked really impressive at times with players like Jozy Altidore, Adam Maher, Roy Beerens and Johann Gudmundsson leading the creative flow of the team’s play. With the prolific Altidore off to England and Maher in Eindhoven, AZ have a tough job in replacing some of the Eredivisie’s best players in recent years.

Though there have been some unfortunate departues for AZ, there have been some incredibly promising acquisitions made by Gertjan Verbeek as he prepares for his 4th season in charge of the Alkmaar outfit. The defense has had a massive boost in the form of new signings Jeffrey Gouweleeuw of SC Herenveen and Jan Wuytens of FC Utrecht. These two have already established themselves as very capable defenders in the Dutch top-flight and with Gouweleeuw arriving for €1.5m and Wuytens on a free, the level of value for such strong players is very impressive.

In terms of reinforcing their depleted midfield and attack, Verbeek seems to know just what he’s doing. The signing of  Nemanja Gudelj from NAC Breda for €3M is another top transfer with incredible value for money due to the player’s potential. Gudelj will provide a massive boost to the depth of midfield, but will not be a like-for-like successor to Adam Maher. Instead, Gudelj will sit further back, while Norwegian, Marcus Henriksen, takes Maher’s CAM role.

A replacement for Jozy Altidore can be found within the club in his fellow countryman Aron Jóhannsson. The 22 year-old Icelandic-American didn’t get much of a look in last season due to Altidore’s inspired form but, in the 142 minutes in which he did play, he scored 3 times. Jóhannsson has also already scored in the first competitive Dutch game of the season, making it 2-0 against Ajax in the Johan Cruijff Schaal game, as well as assisting winger Gudmundsson’s goal. However, AZ may be looking to rotate the young striker with another player as they look to finalise the signing of Werder Bremen striker, Denni Avdic who was on loan at PEC Zwolle last season. The target man is tall and full of strength, making him a good replacement for the similarly billed Altidore.

Despite some departures that looked to damage the team severely, the effects, while detrimental, have been offset by some brilliant bargain signings from Gertjan Verbeek. The strike force of Johannsson, Beerens and Gudmundsson, supported by Marcus Henriksen, Nemanja Gudelj and Viktor Elm looks to be a force to be reckoned with next season. All the while, a new solid back four consisting of skipper Nick Viergever moving out left, new signings Jeffrey Gouweleeuw and Jan Wuytens and young Swede Mattias Johansson who looked impressive last year coming on for Dirk Marcellis, look to be difficult to penetrate.

AZ have dealt with the loss of their stars in the best way and look to be in with at least a chance of title contention, with their impressive performance against current champions Ajax in the Johan Cruijf Schaal, they’ve already made a statement.

 

 

 




Jake Davison (21 Posts)