After comfortably surviving their first year back in the Eredivisie last season, Willem II will now look to push on and reach the European play-off spots.

  • By Michael Bell
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Willem II previewWillem II finished rock bottom in their two previous campaign’s in the Eredivisie, but Jurgen Streppel’s side were excellent last season, finishing comfortably away from the drop zone in 9th.

Now after making some smart summer signings, Willem II will look to challenge the likes of Heerenveen, PEC Zwolle, and Groningen for a top seven place.

Summer Transfers

In- Guus Joppen (VVV), Dico Koppers (free agent), Richairo Zivkovic (Ajax, loan), Ruben Ligeon (Ajax, loan), Lesley de Sa (Ajax, loan), Kostas Lamprou (Feyenoord), Funso Ojo (Dordrecht), Erik Falkenburg (NAC), Nigel Bertrams (PSV)

Out- Samuel Armenteros (returned to parent club Anderlecht), Kevin Brands (NAC), Jerson Cabral (returned to parent club Twente), Tim Cornelisse (retired), Maxime Deckers (released), Jonas Heymans (returned to parent club AZ), Ricardo Ippel (MVV), Ali Messaoud (Vaduz), Ben Sahar (Hapoel Beer Sheva), Ryan Sanusi (Sparta Rotterdam), Frank van der Struijk (released), Charlton Vicento (Helmond Sport), Renan Zanelli (released), Simon van Zeelst (released), Norair Aslanyan (Almere City), Mitchell Dijks (Ajax), Mattijs Branderhorst (MVV, loan)

The loss of last season’s top scorer Samuel Armenteros has been softened by the arrival of the seriously talented Richairo Zivkovic, who is one of three loanee’s from Ajax alongside winger Lesley de Sa and full back Ruben Ligeon. Goalkeeper Kostas Lamprou arrives permanently from Feyenoord after a loan last season, while experienced midfielders Funso Ojo and Erik Falkenburg also come in.

Pre-season

Pre-season started with big wins over amateur sides RKDSV Diessen (8-0) and Jong Brabent (12-0), before a freak 6-1 defeat to Belgian side Charleroi. Draws against Westerlo (0-0) and Helmond Sport (1-1) got Streppel’s side back on track before wins over Mouscron-Péruwel (3-1) and Turkish sides Osmanlıspor (2-0) and Sivasspor (1-0)

Strongest line-up

Lamprou, Ligeon, Koppers, Heerkens, Peters, Ojo, Haemhouts, Falkenburg, De Sa, Ondaan/Andrade, Zivkovic

Key Player

ziv willRichairo Zivkovic

The uber-talented 18 year-old had a frustrating first year at Ajax after signing for the Amsterdam club from Groningen last summer. Questions over the player’s attitude were raised, while coach Frank de Boer forced him to play with the reserves, for whom he netted 18 goals in 25 games.

However Zivkovic now has the chance to prove himself in the Eredivisie once again and if he can fire in the goals for Willem II this season, he will definitely prove he should be Ajax’s number one forward next year.

Netherlands are currently short on top quality striker’s coming through, and there is still big hopes that Zivkovic is the man to eventually replace Robin van Persie and Klaas jan Huntelaar in Oranje.

Youngster to watch

de jong frenkiFrenkie de Jong

One of Netherlands most talented youngsters, De Jong has excelled for both Willem II’s youth side, and Netherlands U19’s over the past year. A controlling midfielder with excellent passing range and tackling ability, De Jong is currently in a tussle between Ajax and PSV over his signature, but remains in Tilburg at the moment.

Prediction

Willem II were the surprise package in the Eredivisie last season, and they definitely have the ability to surprise once again this season. The loss of winger Terell Ondaan through injury is a blow, but in De Sa, Justin Mathieu, and Bruno Andrade have enough attackers to provide ammunition for Richairo Zivkovic. However if the on loan Ajax striker fails to impress then goals may be hard to come by for Streppel’s side, who lost top scorers Armenteros and Ben Sahar earlier this summer.

Predicted position: 10th but could be top six if Zivkovic is in form.




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