Riechedly Bazoer has had a somewhat erratic career so far. Joe Langlands discusses the 24-year-old’s strengths, and why he has become a valuable asset with Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie.

  • by Joe Langlands
  • Follow Joe on Twitter @JJL296

Bazoer burst on to the scene at Ajax after switching from the PSV academy, and made a huge impression as an imposing midfielder. Bazoer seemed destined to make the cut at one of Europe’s top sides. A move to VFL Wolfsburg followed on the back of Bazoer making his first senior appearances for the Dutch national team, but it did not end well. 25 appearances in two years followed, with Bazoer failing to make an impact, and not living up to his reported 12 million euro price tag. The move coincided with a collapse in form from Wolfsburg, and in the next two years, Bazoer was cast out on loan to Porto’s reserve side and FC Utrecht. The Porto move was disastrous; however, a return to Bazoer’s home city of Utrecht proved more fruitful. Some much-needed assuring performances and three goals in 14 games while in Utrecht was enough to convince Vitesse to acquire Bazoer on a permanent deal for the 2019/20 season.

With discipline issues lingering and a couple of red cards early on in his Vitesse career, history looked to be repeating itself, and Bazoer’s career looked to be dwindling with the player still only 23 at the time. Everything changed when Thomas Letsch was appointed manager following his work with various clubs in Austria. Bazoer was deployed at centre back and he hasn’t looked back since, reaching levels of performance he hadn’t hit since his early days at Ajax. With the new UEFA conference league approaching (though Vitesse were disappointingly held to a 2-2 draw by Dundalk in the first leg of their qualifier) Bazoer will have a chance to prove to fans amongst Europe that he still has plenty to offer in his newfound role – Marseille have already been lurking and were said to have made a bid for the Dutchman earlier on in the window.

Bazoer’s playing style and strengths

Firstly, as a midfielder, Bazoer switched between playing as a defensive midfielder and as a  more conventional central midfielder. At Ajax, Bazoer was a confident young midfielder, driving through the middle of the park he was not afraid of taking players on. He also demonstrated end product, scoring 5 and assisting 5 in his breakout 2015/16 season with Ajax. Even last season, Bazoer scored five from centre back – highlighting his eye for a goal.

In the present day, Bazoer has shifted from a rangy midfielder who could’ve been considered an all-rounder, to an established top-end Eredivisie centre-back. Bazoer’s role now is so unique and speaks volumes of his natural talent; how often do you see a centre-back wearing the no.10 for their side? Bazoer, as you would expect from a converted midfielder, brings the ball out from the back with ease and is one of Vitesse’s best outlets in offence with his range of distribution and ability to hit a long pass. Bazoer’s strength and stamina enables him to be solid in recovery in the event that he loses the ball when carrying out of his own box, and on numerous occasions last season he showed that he is a capable defender in his own right. On the ball, Bazoer possesses the same confidence which he showed as a teenager, skipping past players in his own half and at times looking genuinely unstoppable when he gets in full speed when driving with the ball. The icing on the cake with Bazoer, is his aforementioned knack for scoring goals despite playing at centre back. Bazoer creates so many chances for himself with his ball-carrying abilities; look at all five of his goals this season and you’ll be impressed by each one. Bazoer’s goals have not come from set-pieces etc. as you would expect from a centre back, but instead they have been fierce long shots and powerful drives that many strikers and attacking midfielders would be proud, again this is a testament to Bazoer’s raw ability on the ball.

Bazoer’s performances in numbers

What does the future hold for Bazoer?

Bazoer has just come off the back of a resurgent season for himself, not only playing regular football again, but impacting games and making a big impression in the Netherlands – his place in the 2021 team of the season furthers this point. Still only 24, Bazoer is demonstrating that he has so much more to give and that many were quick to write him off following his forgettable stint in the Bundesliga. Bazoer led to Vitesse to a commendable 4th place finish, and as tempted as Bazoer may be to jump ship and immediately try his luck in a top 5 league again, it may be better for him to stay put and build on this past season playing in his new role. Despite a bitterly disappointing draw to Dundalk in the opening leg of their Conference League qualifier, Bazoer still has the chance to play European football with Vitesse this season, where he can prove the season just gone wasn’t just a one-off and he is capable of performing consistently.

Bazoer’s lack of discipline (five red cards in the past three Eredivisie seasons) is something that must be looked at, Bazoer will have been playing professional top level football for seven years and simply must put these issues behind him in order to play at the highest level he’s capable of. Furthermore, although his play style is incredibly entertaining, some coaches may be perturbed by Bazoer’s tendency to dribble in his own box, as against certain opposition this is an obvious liability. Having said that, the right coaches can get the best out of Bazoer, because as stated many times before, he truly has the talent to carry himself to a high level. Whether it be at Vitesse or elsewhere, Bazoer’s fortunes have changed, and he looks to be a really promising player once more. Marseille having been touted with matching his market value of around four million euros, but Vitesse will be holding out for more, because as things stand, Bazoer looks like his stock may rise with the player looking more than capable of playing regular European football in the near future – and that’s just as the bare minimum.

Sources – Transfermarkt.com, Whoscored.com

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