Heerenveen’s academy has produced some excellent midfield talents in recent years and Michel Vlap is the latest youngster making waves at the Abe Lenstra Stadion.

  • By Michael Bell
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Born in Sneek, a Heerenveen fanatic city in Friesland, Vlap grew up supporting De Superfriezen and was a regular viewer at the Abe Lenstra Stadion. After playing with the Sneek academy, where his dad was a coach, Vlap moved into the Heerenveen set-up.

Vlap was seen as one of the most talented youngsters at the club through each age group and eventually he was handed his first-team debut by Jurgen Streppel in a 1-0 defeat to Ajax in November 2016. That proved to be his only appearance of the campaign but last season the midfielder made his breakthrough.

Vlap started the 2017/18 season with the U21’s but eventually became a first-team regular, making 24 appearances, scoring four times and adding three assists.

Vlap has represented Netherlands at several age groups and made history during the 2016 U19 European Championships. A fourth substitute during extra-time was introduced during the tournament and Vlap became the first when he entered the pitch during the penalty defeat to Germany in the World Cup playoff.

He was called into Netherlands U21’s squad last season with then-coach Art Langeler stating, “Michel is a gifted footballer, he has something special, especially on the ball, Michel is very skilful, he has a good first assumption and can change the game. He is still erratic, but you see things that you think: yes, this is going to be something special. ”

Style of Play

Vlap is a versatile attacking midfielder who is usually deployed as a number ten, but can also be used on the wing.

A tall and stylish player, Vlap is a powerful runner on the ball with excellent technique, vision and passing ability with either foot. Vlap loves to drive at defences and is a calm finisher in front of goal. His style is similar to Daley Sinkgraven when he was at Heerenveen.

What to expect from Vlap this season

With Martin Odegaard no longer in his way, Vlap can become a permanent part of the Heerenveen midfield in his preferred role. The 21-year-old was hit and miss last season but is now ready to become a key player under new head coach Jan Olde Riekerink and guide the club back into the European playoffs.

Hakim Ziyech and Sinkgraven both used Heerenveen as a stepping stone in recent years and Vlap can be the next star midfielder in Friesland. He dreams of a move to England in the future and that could move one step closer next season.

Michael Bell (59 Posts)