Unquestionably one of the most exciting young midfielders in Europe, Teun Koopmeiners has been the topic of a wealth of transfer news in recent weeks.
Linked with a host of clubs, including Arsenal, Liverpool, AS Roma, Atalanta, Leeds United, Inter Milan, Everton and AS Monaco, the man who joined AZ Alkmaar at 11 appears destined to leave his beloved club. Having gained so much experience in Europe and domestically over his 150 appearances, there’s no doubting he’s now ready to make the step up to one of the big five leagues.
Adaptable and familiar with a range of systems, the 23-year-old’s primarily deployed as a central midfielder, but is also capable of dropping back to act as a central defender, where his quality on the ball helps massively during build up.
So comfortable and composed in possession, his exceptional distribution ensures he’s proficient at dictating passing passages and breathing life into attacks. Such an expert at helping his team beat the press with his penetrative line breaking passing, this means he can remove multiple opponents with a single pass. As a result, teammates can receive possession in advanced areas in the final third to put opponents under immediate pressure.
Possessing impressive vision and awareness, he’s alert to his teammates’ runs in behind and down the channels. Tailoring his longer range passes with precision and accuracy, his wand of a left foot is a huge weapon to oblige runners.
The Dutchman with superb ball striking technique also hits some beautiful switches of play to put his fullbacks and wingers in advantageous 1v1s. In addition, his capacity to fire in some magical set pieces, crosses and cutbacks further underlines his aptitude in this regard.
A major goal threat from free kicks and from range in open play, this adds another dimension to his game, where he often catches unprepared opponents out.
Other aspects of his measured passing comes from how he can combine intricately in tight, recycles possession coherently, can use both feet and that he can use many parts of his foot.
The way he handles being pressed compounds issues for his foes, for he scans his surroundings to give him a clear understanding of where his teammates, opponents and the vacant spaces are. In doing so, he knows what actions to take, thus allowing him to know when to shield the ball, play a one touch pass, spin away from incoming opponents or turn instantly if he can.
To continue on the theme of his dribbling, and his ball carrying is a quality asset, which enables him to gain territory, draw markers and unbalance rearguards. This is especially effective when he drops into the half spaces and has oceans of space ahead of him to charge upfield, where he can then lure out pressers to generate a free man ahead.
Very intelligent with his positioning and movement, this gives him a wonderful platform from which to impact proceedings. Adept at dropping between, in front of and alongside central defenders, this sees his team able to generate overloads to progress beyond the first line of pressure.
Always eager to get on the ball and support attacks, he also helps manufacture passages in true central midfield areas and wide attacks, with his movement instrumental towards him having time to be able to playmake from deep.
Courtesy of his prowess in this area, Koopmeiners smartly draws defenders out of shape and places them in dilemmas whether to step out to him or stay put.
It’s important to note how his positional sense and tactical awareness gives his team balance and the capacity to protect his backline in case of a turnover.
An excellent defensive contributor as well, he’s very active in this phase of the game too. Energetic in his pressing and alert to threats, he knows when to spring into life to win back possession. Reading the play expertly and identifying triggers, such as a player receiving with their back to goal, in an open body posture or if a pass is underhit towards his nearby opponent, he’s ready to pounce when need be.
His nous and concentration benefits him hugely when cutting out attacks with interceptions and by shutting down passing lanes into attackers. Knowing when to press out, shift across, drop back, support a teammate or push back and fill in at central defence, these are crucial strings to his stopping work.
While he’s solid in the tackle and doesn’t mind getting stuck in, where his long legs notably enable him to make himself wide and nip in to reclaim possession, his aforementioned smarts and anticipation skills are certainly the highlights of his defensive game.
Already vastly experienced and showcasing immense leadership qualities, it’s understandable why the AZ captain is a man in high demand.
So good in both phases of the game and coming into his prime, the race is well and truly on to sign the multifaceted Dutchman. Considering he’s available for around the £20 million mark, this only heightens what a coveted player he is.
Playing with a maturity beyond his years and possessing so many of the desired traits necessary in a modern day footballer, Koopmeiners is set for a long and successful career at the highest level. The only question left to be answered is who will it be with?