Following the announcement that Feyenoord have acquired the services of the Brazilian centre-back, Eric Botteghin shows that he is interested in nothing more than himself.

  • By Adrian Bucher
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It’s a move that makes little practical sense. On Thursday, it was revealed that Groningen and Feyenoord came to an agreement regarding the transfer of Eric Bottehin for a fee of €2.2 million. The Brazilian has proven himself to be one of the Eredivisie’s best defenders, therefore his transfer to a bigger club should come as little surprise, and is a reality that Groningen fans have become all too familiar with in recent years. Nevertheless, the choice of joining the Rotterdam outfit speaks volumes about Botteghin’s character.

Of course, there’s the argument that Feyenoord are one of the most decorated sides in both the Netherlands and in Europe, and for weeks the defender has welcomed the overtures from De Kuip, citing professional development as the key motivator. It turns out that that’s an appalling argument. Despite finishing above Groningen in the table last season, Feyenoord failed to qualify for European football this season, unlike Groningen who were able to secure a spot in this season’s UEFA Europa League, courtesy of their historic KNVB Cup victory in May. Instead, the Trots van het Noorden will have to brave European waters without one of their key players, and not a lot of time to find a suitable replacement and integrate him into the team.

If Botteghin was genuinely interested in professional development, he would have opted to remain at the Euroborg and participate in, at the very least, the group stages of this season’s Europa League. He has proven himself to be an excellent defender, capable of shutting out some of the Eredivisie’s most lethal strikers, and the opportunity to demonstrate his skills on the European stage would more-than-likely attract interest from clubs around the continent that are more prestigious than Feyenoord, or any current Eredivisie team for that matter.

So why pass up on this opportunity? Botteghin has no experience in the finals of any international competition, and will make his European debut at the age of 29 should Feyenoord find themselves playing European football this time next season – and there are no guarantees that will happen, or that he will still be in Rotterdam come September 2016. Perhaps Botteghin does not want to leave the Eredivisie having spent the entirety of his senior career in the country, but this would show a lack of ambition for the same player that claimed that professional development was his excuse for wanting leaving Erwin van de Looi’s side.

Perhaps it was Groningen’s decision to sell Botteghin in the last year of his current contract, rather than losing him next year on a Bosman deal. Such a scenario seems unlikely given van de Looi’s comments to the press earlier this month as transfer speculation was mounting. However, what does seem likely is that Groningen would not have been able to match Feyenoord’s salary offer. But then again, this brings us back to the point made about catching the eyes of other clubs in Europe with a bigger payroll by participating in this season’s Europa League. Is it the case then that Feyenoord offered Botteghin the best salary, at this point in time? That would thus show a remarkable short-sightedness on the part of the Brazilian.

Let’s talk in hypotheticals for a moment. Picture this: it’s December 2015. After deciding to stay at Groningen, Botteghin has earned the admiration of several clubs around Europe, include those in the Eredivisie, for his defensive contributions in the group stages of the Europa League. As January 2016 comes around, more clubs are knocking on Groningen’s door asking for the defender whose contract is set to expire in June. In this scenario, Botteghin would suddenly be a in a very strong negotiating position.

Of course Groningen fans will be disappointed that the heart of their defence has departed, as is always the case whenever any gifted player leaves the Euroborg. But what makes this one sting a bit more is that it feels like Botteghin has committed adultery at the expense of the Green-White Army faithful. Time will tell whether this does indeed prove to be the right choice for the defender, but one thing’s for sure, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many Groningen fans.

Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)