AZ Alkmaar’s season has been a tale of two halves as they have had to replace the majority of their top tier talent with youth. Van Overeem has had to replace Nemanja Gudelj and took a long time to find his feet in the team but has blossomed in the second half of the season. He will be a player to watch for AZ in the coming seasons.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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vn overeemAZ Alkmaar possesses one of the best performing youth academies and scouting systems in the Eredivisie and the amount of talent currently flourishing in their first team is testament to their hard work. They recently signed Joris Van Overeem to a long-term contract till 2020 as the academy product has been an important cog in the side and has tied down a place in the midfield for the second half of the season and will hope to continue this next season.

Van Overeem accumulated the most minutes in the Eredivisie last season while on loan at FC Dordrecht while he participated in every Eredivisie game as he scored 2 goals and created another four for his teammates. The loss of many star players in the transfer window meant there would be a role for him at Alkmaar as the 21-year-old has played in the Alkmaar front three and in attacking midfield. However, it has been in the number 8 role where has sustained a place and been the most useful to the side.

Blessed with an exquisite first touch, immaculate close control and dribbling ability while being able to pick out some eye-catching passes, he has grown into this role as he has been the link between attack and defence. In a midfield with Markus Henriksen and Ben Rienstra or Thom Haye, his responsibility is to link things together and play line breaking passes while supporting the deeper midfielder with shielding the defence and joining in on attacks. He like the rest of his young teammates have grown with experience after an indifferent start with manager John Van Den Brom frequently tinkering with his team in search of the best formula.

However, now Van Overeem is the vehicle of transition as this young team is looking to compete in the Europa League again next year. Markus Henriksen style as an attacking midfielder who enjoys to dovetail striker Vincent Janssen while the forward runs the channels means that Van Overeem has more space to utilise in the engine room and he has begun to look more comfortable. The Dutch Under 21 International has the second most appearances in the side after Janssen as he has been a favourite on Van Den Brom in this new look AZ side.

He still has a long way to go to reach the levels of Nemanja Gudelj or even Markus Henriksen as they are efficient in terms of their creativity and effective in terms of their goal-scoring. Gudelj is all-action plays both sides of the game extremely well while there are few midfielders in the Eredivisie as good in the final third as Henriksen. Regardless, Van Overeem is well on his way as it is intriguing that although the youngster currently plays as a number 8, he dreams of Henriksen’s number 10 shirt.

“I aspire to the number ten position, but Markus Henriksen plays at the moment. However, he is more of a runner who constantly searches the depths, a bit like Lex Immers. I’m more of a player who wants the ball between the lines,” said Van Overeem in an interview recently.
“Joris has well developed last season on loan at FC Dordrecht, then we retrieved him to Alkmaar. This year he proves that he is ready for the level pursues AZ. He has been valued in the selection of the Juniors and a good example of where we want to go with AZ, ” said AZ’s Director of Football Max Huiberts to the club’s website.

Van Overeem has 5 goals and 6 assists in all competitions in his first full season as a starter in the Eredivisie. He makes 2 tackles and 1 interception per game while taking 1 shot and making 1 key pass per game. He has made improvements to his game with better teammates around him while playing at a higher level than last season and he will look to continue improving with increased responsibility when Henriksen leaves at the end of the season.

AZ Alkmaar has long been a hot bed of talent and are currently in the process of moulding a team with precocious young talents and experienced players. Janssen who is currently the Eredivisie top scorer but he has formed a partnership with Van Overeem as all of the youngster’s assists have been for Janssen. The last being a fine backheel against FC Twente for Janssen as he will hope to continue this next season if the striker remains at the club. Van Overeem is in the perfect environment to hone his talents and will continue to grow into himself as a player at the AFAS Stadion.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)