A versatile defender, Thomas Ouwejan is expected to make a big impact for AZ Alkmaar this season. 

  • By Michael Bell
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Born in Alkmaar, Ouwejan joined AZ’s academy at the age of 11 and progressed through the various age groups, displaying promise in a variety of positions. John van den Brom handed him his first team debut against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League after the club suffered a number of absentees. He impressed on his debut and made his Eredivisie debut three days later against PEC Zwolle.

Last season, Ouwejan was a permanent member of the AZ first team, but played back-up to Ridgeciano Haps and only made eleven first team appearances, contributing two assists. He also played eight times for Jong AZ as they lifted the Second division title. His performances have already led to two caps for the Dutch national team at U21 level.

This summer, Haps left AZ for Feyenoord and Van den Brom stated that no replacement was needed with Ouwejan to get his chance to replace the left-back with Owen Wijndal playing back-up. In preseason he has been excellent, and netted a powerful strike in a win over Malaga.

Style of Play

Ouwejan’s main strength is his versatility, with the 21-year-old equally comfortable playing at left back or in the midfield. It’s at left back where AZ see his immediate future, and its the position where Ouwejan can utalise most of his main attributes. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet, strong at tackling, dribbling and has a powerful left foot. He is a more complete footballer than Haps and his midfield vision will allow him to contribute more assists to the side than the now Feyenoord full-back.

As seen in pre-season, should Van den Brom decide to bring Wijndal off the bench, Ouwejan can easily slot into midfield, where he has played as a DM, number 8 and even a 10 so far for the AZ youth teams.

What to expect from Ouwejan this season

Ouwejan has already been confirmed as Haps replacement in the AZ first team and he will be eager to hold down the position now that he has been given the chance to shine. The 21-year-old is a homegrown fan favourite in the AFAS Stadion and considered one of the club’s biggest talents. He will be hoping to help AZ challenge the top four and earn a place in Netherlands U21 squad for the start of the Euro qualifying campaign.

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