PEC Zwolle midfielder Ryan Thomas has been one of the standout players in the Eredivisie this season. Randey Kuiper takes a closer look at the Kiwi star.

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Who is Ryan Thomas?

Thomas (23) was born in Auckland (New Zealand) on 20 December 1994. He started his career at Melville United, a club based in Melville that is about 130 kilometres from Auckland. He joined WaiBap when he was 17 years old. PEC Zwolle saw the talent of Thomas and convinced him to join them in 2013. He started in Zwolle at the second team, but the trainer of the first team, Ron Jans, quickly saw his talent and let him join the squad. He made his debut in 2013 and has established himself as one most important players at the club. His defining match was in the 2014 Dutch cup final against Ajax (5-1), where he scored two goals.

The midfielder is also a full international for New Zealand, earning 10 caps so far, scoring three goals.

The success of PEC Zwolle

PEC Zwolle is the biggest surprise of the season so far. The club that flirted with relegation last season was expected to struggle after long-term coach Ron Jans decided to step down. However, John van ‘t Schip has taken charge and led the club to fifth place so far with 39 points from 23 games. That is already four points more than they picked up last season.

One of the biggest reasons for their success is the outstanding performances from the likes of Ryan Thomas, Younes Mokthar, Younes Namli, and Phillipe Sandler. Because of them, PEC Zwolle is also one of the most entertaining sides to watch this season. In the 10 matches that PEC Zwolle plays against direct competitors, they picked up 15 points: four wins, three draws, and three losses. Away at Feyenoord in De Kuip they surprisingly picked up a point by drawing 0-0.

PEC Zwolle are currently in a great position to secure at least a place in the end of season European play-offs.

Ryan Thomas playing style

Thomas is the playmaker of PEC Zwolle and is definitely one the best players playing outside the traditional top three of PSV, Feyenoord and Ajax.

He often sees the best footballing options possible and can pass the ball where he wants. He passes a lot: an average of 55.5 per game this season, with an 82.9% accuracy. As an offensive midfielder, you need to intercept sometimes a counter attack. He has the most interceptions per 90 minutes in the Eredivisie, an average of 2,70. He can also carry the ball forward with a low centre of gravity and good close dribbling ability. When PEC Zwolle have the ball he often comes between the lines to present himself.

The one area he does, however, need to improve is at the other end of the pitch. Thomas has only netted one goal this season and only 12 in 133 appearances for the club. He gets himself into excellent positions around the box but often looks for another pass instead of taking on a shot himself. If he can add more goals to his game then he would be a complete midfielder and one possibly ready for the top.


I think Thomas can have a very bright future, maybe with the traditional top three: Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord. At this moment Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech is ready for a step up. Thomas is a perfect player to replace him. He can determine the game in midfield like Modric does at Real Madrid. PSV has a solid midfield but the most important midfielder Van Ginkel is on loan from Chelsea, and when he turns back, PSV needs a new midfielder. Feyenoord also has a good midfield but all three players are the same type. Feyenoord needs more creativity and Thomas is the perfect player to bring that. If this three clubs didn’t gonna buy him next summer, I think other clubs outside The Netherlands will pick him up.

Whatever happens, we can still enjoy him at PEC Zwolle this season.

Randey Kuiper (1 Posts)