Jake Davison takes a look at how AZ are looking at the start of this 2014/2015 season.

  • By Jake Davison
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AZ Alkmaar’s renaissance period of the mid-late 2000s is well and truly over, but the club are now somewhat of a well-established force in Dutch football. Much upheaval last season like the departure of Gertjan Verbeek and temporary reign of Dick Advocaat, culminated in an underwhelming 8th place finish in the Eredivisie. Outside of the domestic league, however, the Alkmaar club managed a respectable KNVB Cup semi-final as well as an incredibly impressive quarter-final finish in the Europa League, falling only to an almost infallible Benfica side. This season, with Marco van Basten at the helm, AZ will look to settle and develop momentum with more certainty in the side.


AZ have lost some important players in this transfer window. The obvious big blow is the departure of AZ captain and centre-back Nick Viergever to Ajax, Jan Wuytens should take his place with the newly promoted youth player Wesley Hoedt looking like a possible backup.

The second blow the AZ squad took was the loss of winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson. The Norwegian has been a mainstay in the squad for more than 3 seasons but has now signed with Charlton Athletic after the expiry of his 5 year contract with the Alkmaar club. A likely replacement for this Gudmundsson is newly signed youngster Muamer Tankovic. This 19 year-old Swede arrived from Fulham for free following the London club’s relegation.

The final departure that will affect the selection this season is Roy Beerens to Hertha BSC. The right winger was a first team regular for the past two seasons, scoring 10 goals in that time. This loss is significantly offset by the signing of Guus Hupperts from newly relegated Roda JC. The 22 year-old scored 13 goals in 38 appearances last season for Roda and will look to further build on that with a start in a newly managed AZ side this season.


AZ won 4, drew 1 and lost 1 of their 6 pre-season friendlies. Their pre-season kicked off with two convincing wins against amateur sides and they also went on to beat VVV-Venlo and Azerbaijani side Gabala FK. A visit from newly relegated NEC Nijmegen resulted in a 0-0 draw, while Alkmaars only real challenge against TSG Hoffenheim came to a 3-0 loss.

New signing Muamer Tankovic was particularly impressive in pre-season, scoring a brace in three separate games.

Possible starting XI:  Esteban, Poulsen, Wuytens, Gouweleew, Johansson, Ortiz, Henriksen, Gudelj, Hupperts, Johannsson, Berghuis/Tankovic

Key players:

Aron Johannsson: It’s his time. His scoring rivals Graziano Pelle and Alfred Finnbogason are gone and he’s well in with a chance to be top dog. Scoring 26 in 53 last season, the striker really found his feet and didn’t disappoint as he tried to fill the void left by fellow countryman Jozy Altidore. He’s expected to miss some of the start of the season due to an ankle operation, but expect him to make an impression when he returns.

Guus Hupperts: A 22 year-old that has been improving each season that looks set to really mature as a player this year. A fantastic crosser with pace and excellent ball control, he’s a classic winger. His confidence at Roda showed through moments of audacious skill and lack of hesitance in taking his man on and that’s a trait that could well build further as he becomes an important part of this Alkmaar outfit.

Nemanja Gudelj: After joining last season from NAC Breda, the young Serbian has been a huge asset to AZ. A central midfielder who thrives on pulling the strings of the game, he’s capable of scoring by himself or contributing assists with aplomb. After scoring 7 and assisting 8 last season, the 22 year-old will be ready to hit the ground running and impress even further.

Young Player to Watch – Muamer Tankovic:

It’s not hard to see how Tankovic caught the eye of AZ. With 8 goals and an assist in the Under-21 Premier League with Fulham last year, he impressed enough to garner a smattering of appearances for the senior side. Now part of a team that has a history for nurturing its young talents well over the past few years, it seems AZ could’ve bagged a top signing. As possibly the most impressive player in pre-season, Alkmaar fans will no doubt be excited to see what becomes of this young Swede this season.


AZ have lost some important players that have been with the club relatively long, but their new signings look set to impress and many of the players that have remained in the red and white shirts are only getting better and better. This could be the season that many of Alkmaar’s players start to hit real maturity and that, coupled with the arrival of Marco van Basten, make AZ look like a side of real promise this season.
Final position: 3rd/4th

Jake Davison (5 Posts)