After two frustrating and injury hit years, Marco van Ginkel is back in the limelight and back in form at PSV Eindhoven.

  • By Michael Bell
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van ginkel psvJust after the hour mark in the AFAS Stadion on Saturday, PSV are awarded a free kick 30 yards from goal. Marco van Ginkel, who had already scored one great goal as his side led 3-0, took the ball confidently, ushered away team mate Davy Propper and curled the ball brilliantly past goalkeeper Sergio Rochet.

It was van Ginkel’s first brace since scoring twice in Vitesse’s 5-3 success over Heracles Almelo in February 2013, and an indication that the midfielder is finally back to his best after two frustrating seasons.

Back in the 2012/13 Eredivisie season, van Ginkel’s name was on everyone’s lips and after an excellent campaign with Vitesse he was deservedly named Dutch young footballer of the year. A box to box midfielder, van Ginkel was everywhere on the pitch for Vitesse, scoring eight goals and adding ten assists in a season which earned him a big move to Chelsea, who paid £8 million to snare the 21-year-old. Van Ginkel had wanted a move to Ajax, who were also willing to match £8 million, but Vitesse blocked the deal as they didn’t want to sell to a rival and the midfielder ended up in London under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho.

The coach gushed about his new signing, comparing him to Steven Gerrard and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, “He covers a fantastic area of the field defensively and after that he has this instinct where he wants to go into finishing areas, he wants to score goals.”

Early signs in London were good for the youngster who made his Premier League and Champions League debuts, but cruelly on only his fourth appearance for the club van Ginkel tore his anterior Cruciate ligament which ruled him out of action for six months. When he eventually returned in March, the Dutchman had to settle for appearances for the reserves and didn’t make a single appearance for the first team.

The following summer Van Ginkel joined AC Milan on loan in a bid to regain form, but disaster would strike as he picked up another injury on his debut for the club and had to be stretchered off. He missed two games, but was then left on the bench for six straight matches, before he finally started against Udinese, and impressed in a 2-0 win. It would not prove to be a springboard though as van Ginkel suffered another injury in training and missed another month. Eventually in March, van Ginkel forced his way into the starting line-up and played every minute of AC Milan’s final 12 league games, scoring once and adding three assists.

A more confident van Ginkel returned to Stamford Bridge last summer, but was then used as bait in the deal to bring goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to Chelsea from Stoke City, with the midfielder joining the Potters on a loan until the end of the season. Finally van Ginkel would gain Premier League experience as he started the first six matches of the season, but eventually fellow Dutchman Ibrahim Afellay took over his spot in the first eleven, leaving the 23-year-old back on the bench. When Stoke forked out £18.3 million for Giannelli Imbula in January, PSV spotted an opportunity and offered van Ginkel a return to Netherlands. Stoke agreed to cancel his loan and Chelsea were also happy for van Ginkel to spend six months at the Philips Stadion.

A disappointing cup exit marred van Ginkel’s debut, but in his first game back in the Eredivisie he netted in a 2-0 win over Utrecht and followed this up with another goal against NEC. The van Ginkel from the 2013 season was back and with the confidence of coach Phillip Cocu, he has gone from strength to strength, playing every single minute of PSV’s last ten matches, including two excellent midfield performances in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid.

With Andres Guardado as the controller in the PSV midfield and Davy Propper in the number ten role, van Ginkel has been handed the freedom to perform his favoured box-to-box role in Eindhoven, and its paid off for Cocu. Interestingly, since he joined PSV, van Ginkel has scored more than any of his teammates in all competitions with five goals, while his average passes per game has more than doubled from his time at Stoke City.

His excellent form has also seen van Ginkel return to the national team set up, with Danny Blind handing him his first cap in two years as a substitute in the 2-1 win over England at Wembley. It was a reward for a player who has embraced his return to the Netherlands and looks determined to prove he is back to the form which made him one of the biggest prospects in Europe.

With five games left in the Eredivisie, van Ginkel will no doubt have a large role to play as PSV chase their second straight league title, and then the midfielder will have a big decision to make about his future. Two years remain on his contract at Stamford Bridge, and with Antonio Conte coming in as coach, van Ginkel may be given the opportunity to impress during pre-season. However, should Chelsea decide that the Dutchman has no part to play in their future plans then a return to PSV could be on the cards with director Marcel Brands confirming recently that they intend to hold talks with the London club.

Van Ginkel himself said to VI, “Basically, I will return to England after this season. I’ll see what happens.”

Whatever does happen in the summer, the return to the Eredivisie has been an excellent platform for van Ginkel, who is back on form, back in the national team, and finally ready to win his place at Stamford Bridge.

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