Today the club announced that Dutch international Leroy Fer was on the verge of an £8m transfer to the club. The Twente midfielder has been described in some quarters as ‘the new Patrick Vieira’ although former toffee flop Alex Nyarko received the same billing prior to his move to the club from Lens in 2000. This quick scout report will give us a quick synopsis of the key strengths and weaknesses of the energetic midfield enforcer….
Firstly, a quick timeline of Leroy’s career to date in his words….
The Dutch International is a product of Feyenoord’s youth academy, making well over 100 appearances during his stay in Rotterdam where he scored 14 goals. Leroy was clearly sad to leave his boyhood club….
“With many of these players, I played for almost ten years. They were obviously disappointed when they heard that I was leaving the club. Meanwhile, they were also happy for me, for my future, which gave me a nice feeling. All in all, it was difficult for me to leave”
…..His next destination was FC Twente, moving in a 5.5 million euro deal, something Leroy felt was a millstone around his neck earlier on …. Hopefully he won’t feel the pressure of the touted £8m fee of his transfer to L4;
“I only had a one-year contract left with Feyenoord. I had a strange feeling that Twente paid too much. But it also speaks about the club’s (Twente) confidence in my abilities. It has certainly put more pressure on me”
However, at Twente he ran into trouble with their manager, the former Ajax and Porto boss Co Adriaanse who announced that Leroy’s purchase was unnecessary and he could have managed without him. Leroy revealed that his former head coach’s comments made him feel uncomfortable;
“I found those comments very annoying. I came to know about the comments through media. I thought what should I do? But nothing could be done, and apparently, nothing clicked in our relationship”
Luckily for Leroy, the ‘Wolly with the Brolly’ tactician and blue sky thinker Steve McLaren soon took over as coach and he was much happier than his predecessor to have a player of Leroy’s credentials in his side. However, injury was to blight his impact at the start of this season as he injured his knee whilst on international duty for the Netherlands. Leroy underwent surgery for damage in his left knee after getting a bang during the last 40 minutes of Oranje’s 2-0 home defeat of Turkey in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier, leading to a spell on the sidelines. Leroy remained focused on getting back to action quickly;
“From now on, I will concentrate on my recovery and I’ll come back stronger,”
Leroy has been true to his word; since returning, he has been mustard for FC Twente this season with 9 goals and 2 assists from 17 starts.
So, what does he bring to the Toffees?
Moyes has been after a physical midfield enforcer for a while with failed attempt to bring the likes of Nzonzi and Vadis Odidja Ofoe to the club back in September. Indeed, Moyes has scouted LF for almost three seasons. Leroy is a similar type player with a good physical presence and dynamic box to box energy… much needed skills in our midfield which looks rather mono paced and lacking a pressing force since Fellaini was deployed further forward.
He is comfortable on his left or right foot and is dominant in the air, unsurprising given his leggy build and standing 6ft 2inches tall and befitting of a man nicknamed ‘The Bouncer’ . At Twente he has been mostly deployed on the right of centre of a 3 man midfield with Twente usually turning out in a 4-3-3. He hasn’t been deployed specifically as an anchor nor has he been used in the advanced position where Fellaini is deployed, more so somewhere in between these roles as a number 8.
He is a solid player who does the simple things well although he does have a swagger about him with a back catalogue of quality goals and assists aplenty, with a career average of a goal every five games.
His disciplinary record – as with Odidja Ofoe – looks a tad iffy with 27 yellow cards from 131 starts although playing the role he does in the heart of midfield this perhaps goes with the territory.
Finally, EB dropped our Dutch contact, the influential Dutch tactics site 11tegen11 – who has analysed numerous Twente games in recent times – a line to put some meat on the bone to what toffee fans can expect from our prospective new signing.
His take on things was that;
“ Leroy Fer has been a talent for long time although I’m not quite sure he’ll meet the high expectations placed upon him. He is physically strong, a box-to-box midfielder probably comparable in terms of style to Yaya Touré at Manchester City. He has no weakness per sé, but the type of midfielder he is (box to box) are not really in fashion and perhaps LF needs to choose which midfield role he will focus on, and probably play as a deeper destroyer MF role with forwards runs”
When asked if Leroy was the kind of midfield distributor who can spread passes from left to right in keeping with how, say Darron Gibson does, the answer was clear;
“In short, no, Fer is not a passer. He works best versus superior opposition in the midfield battle or arriving late in box to get on the end of things”
This would pretty much fit in with our earlier conclusion that Leroy’s arrival is to plug the energetic, ball-winning gap in our midfield engine room that opened up when Fellaini moved further forward. Regaining possession and moving the ball on to wide areas will most likely be the key role he will be expected to deliver.
So there you have it….an interesting addition to our squad…..plus I resisted the temptation to make a Fer pun throughout. Double-win.