Tipped for stardom while at Volendam, Joey Veerman is now proving himself to be one of the Eredivisie’s most talented midfielder’s at Heerenveen.

  • By Michael Bell
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The Abe Lenstra Stadion has witnessed the rise of several talented midfielders in recent years, with Hakim Ziyech, Marten de Roon, Filip Djuricic, Daley Sinkgraven and more recently Michel Vlap, all impressing in Friesland before moving elsewhere.

The next midfield maestro looking to use Heerenveen as a springboard to stardom is Joey Veerman, who has been one of the most underrated stars of this Eredivisie campaign.

The 21-year-old has had to wait for his chance to impress in the Dutch top flight, having come through the ranks at Keuken Kampioen Divisie side FC Volendam. As a 17-year-old, Veerman made his debut in the Dutch second division, and was widely regarded as one of the most talented youngsters in the Netherlands outside the top flight.

However, despite keen interest from Utrecht in 2017 and a link to Spanish side Eibar, Veerman, who also suffered a bad knee injury last season, had to wait until the last day of this summer’s transfer window for Heerenveen to finally take a chance on him. A fee of less than €600,000 was paid, which is now looking like a complete bargain.

Veerman was a defensive, controlling midfielder at Volendam, whose game was similar to Frenkie de Jong, but since moving to Heerenveen, coach Johnny Jansen has pushed the youngster forward in an attacking role. That has resulted in Veerman providing four goals and five assists so far in 22 league appearances.

In terms of chances created, Veerman has 56, which puts him seventh highest in the league, behind only Dusan Tadic, Hakim Ziyech, Steven Berghuis, Calvin Stengs, Sergio Pena and Mark Diemers. However, Veerman has only crossed the ball 12 times, much less than the others on this list, meaning he is more creative around the box with through balls and clever flicks.

Despite his impressive figures as a number ten, Veerman sees his future clearly as a controlling midfielder, telling Voetbal International, “I think I do best as a controller. There I have the game in front of me and I can send my passes better. Now I often get the ball with many defenders around me, then it is more difficult for me to be dominant.

“In the future I clearly see myself as a controller, but it is also interesting for me to develop myself in this position, because then you can be deployed in several places.”

Veerman’s all round game definitely suits a role as a box-to-box all action midfielder in the future. He has more successful tackles this season than any of his Heerenveen teammates, third most successful dribbles, and has an average of 2.5 key passes per game. Veerman can do it all!

Veerman was named as the Eredivisie’s young player of the month for February and is proving to be the standout star in what is otherwise a disappointing campaign for Heerenveen, who currently sit tenth in the league. The question now is whether Heerenveen can keep hold of the young star, who was in line to make his Netherlands U21 debut at the end of this month before the coronavirus saw the fixtures postponed.

Veerman himself is hoping for a step up to one of the big clubs in the Netherlands, before making the move abroad, “That would also be the best for me: I would prefer to first make an intermediate step within the Netherlands. To play the prizes, experience European football and all the pressure that comes with it. After that I certainly hope to play abroad someday. Spanish football suits me best, that would be really cool, but I’m not in a hurry. You see enough players who only go abroad at the age of 25.”

Veerman has, unsurprisingly for most, made the step up to the Eredivisie with ease and his development since has been rapid. His potential is massive and a move to PSV, Feyenoord, Ajax or AZ Alkmaar next summer cannot be ruled out. Should he then impress on a big platform, then a debut in Oranje will be the next goal.

For now, the Abe Lenstra Stadion is home to one of the most talented and creative young midfielders in the Eredivisie.

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