A natural midfielder by trade, Kenneth Paal has impressed at left back for PSV in preseason and could be the clubs replacement for Jetro Willems.

  • By Michael Bell
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Paal began his career in the academy of NEC Nijmegen but switched to PSV Eindhoven in 2010 after being scouted by the Boeren. Moving through the youth sides, Paal has enhanced his reputation a talented attacking midfielder and was part of the Netherlands U17 squad that finished as runners up in the 2014 European Championships. In that side he played alongside the likes of Steven Bergwijn, Abdelhak Nouri and Donny van de Beek and it seemed only a matter of time before he made his senior debut.

In the 2014/15 season, Paal made his debut for Jong PSV in the Eerste Divisie and he has since gone on to make 77 appearances for the second string, scoring five goals and adding 10 assists. Phillip Cocu has handed the 20-year-old his chance during pre-season over the past few years but he has yet to make his official first team debut. That may finally change this season with Cocu converting Paal to a left-back during a friendly this summer and afterwards singling the youngster out for praise. He was included in the squad for the second leg of their Europa League tie with Osijek, but remained on the bench.

Style of play

Through the PSV academy, Paal has starred as an attacking midfielder, impressing with his creativity, vision, and technique. He has been constantly compared to former PSV star Georginio Wijnaldum, and definitely has shades of the Liverpool man’s style when playing in midfield.

However, for Jong PSV he has also been used at left wing and his future could be in defence with Paal impressing Cocu at left-back this summer. He has a sweet left foot and good dribbling ability which could see him adapt well to a new role as an attacking full-back.

What to expect from Paal this season

Over the past few seasons, we have seen Daley Sinkgraven and Rick Karsdorp converted from midfield to full back by Ajax and Feyenoord with overwhelming success. Maybe now it is PSV’s turn to experiment and with Jetro Willems leaving for Lyon and funds tight, Paal could turn out to be the perfect replacement.

Joshua Brenet will probably start the campaign as first choice, but with PSV’s season already off to a shaky start, Paal will look to play his way into Cocu’s plans and hold down a permanent spot.

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