FC Utrecht are about to finish what has been a phenomenal season for their young side and their young manager where they were only one step away from silverware. Bart Ramselaar has shone in a fluid and attacking setup that has been implemented by Erik ten Hag as the youngster has played his way into the national team.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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ramselaar uttutFC Utrecht are coming off an impressive first season under Erik ten Hag who has implemented an entertaining brand of football that has been laced with tactical awareness. The club’s golden goose is Bart Ramselaar who has just been given his first callup to the Dutch National side for the friendlies against Ireland, Poland and Austria.

A lithe attacking midfielder who at only 19 years-old has mastered the art of making his body a conduit to do incredible things with the ball. He is short in stature and slight in size but he is blessed with an exquisite first touch, a velcro-like command of the ball and a beguiling turn of pace to get away from his markers. A player who is constantly in movement, searching the pockets and channels for space to help a teammate or to change a game in a blink of an eye. He has created a devastating partnership with the clinical Sebastian Haller in a system where Utrecht played themselves into a KNVB Bekker final and 5th place in the Eredivisie.

The Eredivisie’s big boys must shudder at the sight of the two as Ramselaar has two assists against Ajax and can boast of scoring 3 goals at the Phillips Stadion this season. Haller and Ramselaar trounced the Eredivisie champions on their way to the KNVB Bekker final where Ramselaar scored two and Haller one in a 3-1 win at the Phillips Stadion where PSV were outfoxed. Ramselaar has also been part of a rigid midfield triumvirate which includes the metronomic Rico Streider who joined last season from Bayern Munich, the fist-clenching leader of the team Willem Janssen or the upstart Sofyan Amrabat.

Another talent, Yassin Ayoub has been edged out of the starting line-up and may have to start next season on the periphery as he suffered an injury in the latter stages of the season. Ramselaar produced another scintillating performance in a big game as he bagged a goal and an assist against PEC Zwolle in a 5-2 thrashing in the second leg of the of semi-final in the Europa League playoff. For the first goal, he judged the bounce of a long-ball out wide well to nudge Gustavo Hebling out of his way and place a brilliant cross for Haller to tap in simply. He scored his goal after being played through by Haller brilliantly and shifting into a brilliant turn of pace to leave the Zwolle defenders stumbling behind him and cooly slot in a one-on-one.

“The development that he has undergone is huge. There’s a lot more stretch, but the step that Bart has already put in so many aspects of football is really big,” said ten Hag of his star pupil to De Telegraaf in April. The Utrecht manager has also noted that the youngster needs to ‘score more’.

Ramselaar was born in Amersfoort which is 30 minutes away from FC Utrecht’s Niewegein training base where they have a generation of players who have paved a way into the first team. Sean Klaiber and Giovanni Troupee are also part of the first team while the likes of Rubio Rubin, Yassin Ayoub, Patrick Joosten, Sebastian Haller, Rico Streider and Timo Letschert are testament to the club’s brilliant scouting system as most of these players have trickled out of top academies around the globe. Ramselaar finds himself in an extremely talented young team under one of the most progressive young Dutch coaches who has worked at clubs like PSV Eindhoven and Bayern Munich.

Ramselaar only played 5 games before his breakout season and has now been an undisputed starter in the team. His rise may not have been to the extent of fellow Dutch youngsters Letschert and Vincent Janssen but it has also been rapid. His ability as a mainstay in the team is amazing given the season before last season, Ramselaar spoke about struggling with cramps that prevented him from completing 90 minutes.

Danny Blind who has witnessed his brilliance first hand twice in the matches against Ajax picked him for his Dutch National Team squad as his inclusion is well-deserved. The youngster has 7 goals and 6 assists in all competitions this season as he created 37 chances this season. Ramselaar has completed 920 passes at an 84% pass completion rate with 70% of his passes being forward passes according to Squawka statistics. He gives so much guile and creativity to the Utrecht attack but he will need to give more defensively considering he plays in a co-dependent midfield three at Utrecht.

Hopefully, next season Bart Ramselaar and Utrecht will have a chance to test themselves in Europe if the young midfielder remains at the club. A fee of 7 million euros has been mentioned with the midfielder attracting admiring glances from some of the bigger teams but with his contract renewed last September, we could see him plying his trade at the Galgeenward next season. It will be a season of expectation after he lit up the Eredivisie with some exceptional performances and watching him handle that expectation will be an intriguing prospect for next season.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)