On Wednesday, Ricky van Wolfswinkel sealed a shock move from Vitesse Arnhem to FC Basel in Switzerland. James Rowe looks back at the striker’s career so far.

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Van Wolfswinkel, who started his career with Vitesse, first caught my eye while playing for FC Utrecht. His slight of frame and eye for goal made him stand out as different in a positive way to other strikers in the Eredivisie at that time. He had an assured self-confidence which only made him appear more likeable. Europe sat up and took notice too when he scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory in the Europa League against Celtic in August 2010.

After 35 goals for Utrecht, he moved on to Sporting Lisbon in June 2011 and became a firm fans favourite in the Portuguese capital. He scored his first goal for the club in a 3-2 win against Pacos de Ferreira and he endeared himself further by showing the heart and desire to fight for the club when facing their fiercest rivals Benfica. I remember being in Lisbon on holiday in June 2012 and the national newspapers in Portugal were questioning why he was not involved with the Dutch national team, for whom he only has two caps. He went on to score 28 goals in 55 league appearances for the Leoes.

After being linked with a number of clubs, a very surprising transfer to English side Norwich City was announced in 2013, raising many eyebrows. He scored on his league debut in a 2-2 draw against Everton on the opening day of the 2013/2014 season. What appeared to be a promising start to his time in England petered out into only one goal in 25 appearances for the Canaries, who had paid €10 million for the Dutchman.

After Norwich City’s relegation to the Championship, he was loaned out the following season to French side St Etienne where he went on to score five times in 28 appearances, including a goal in their 3-0 victory against arch rivals Olympique Lyon in the Derby du Rhone. That was St Etienne’s first home win against Les Gones in 20 years.

In August 2015, van Wolfswinkel was loaned out again to Spanish side Real Betis where he proved useful in Copa del Rey scoring against Sporting Gijon but had to wait until April 2016 for his first La Liga goal against Las Palmas. He only made 16 league appearances in Spain, scoring once.

After five years away from the Eredivisie, van Wolfswinkel returned to the Netherlands to play for his first club, Vitesse Arnhem in a reported 600.000 euro move. After a couple of disappointing seasons, he found his form again in a vibrant youthful Vitesse Arnhem side managed by Henk Fraser. Van Wolfswinkel went on to score 20 league goals in 32 appearances but his crowning moment came in the KNVB Cup final where his two goals against AZ Alkmaar secured Vitesse’s first ever trophy in their 125-year history and booked their place in the Europa League.

The heroics in the cup final have proved to be his final act for Vitesse with Wednesday bringing the news that van Wolfsinkel has signed a 3-year deal with current Swiss champions FC Basel, who have paid €5 million for the striker. He will have the chance to play in the Champions League next season and has the opportunity to add a league title to his trophy cabinet for the first time in his career.

Van Wolfswinkel will now go on to ply his trade in his 5th different country and add another string to his bow. At 28 he has accrued so much experience of different leagues and cultures which I believe will only be acknowledged and appreciated once he retires.

James Rowe (696 Posts)