2 september 2016 In de media

What to expect from USMNT defender Matt Miazga’s loan to Vitesse

All eyes were on Chelsea’s US national team defender Matt Miazga as the European transfer deadline approached and now that he’s sealed a last-minute loan to Vitesse, observers are bound to have questions.
Per usual, we're here to help explain the whys, hows and what next of the season Miazga will spend in the Eredivisie.

Why the loan?

With veterans Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Kurt Zouma and the returning David Luiz ahead of him in the center back pecking order (and no European berth to give the Blues a fourth competition to take part in), first-team minutes were bound to be sparse for the young US international. Even when Chelsea were experiencing a selection crisis at the back last season, Miazga only managed a pair of appearances.

New manager Antonio Conte basically spelled out Miazga's then-impending fate with some early August remarks to the media. "You can improve only if you play," he told reporters. "Miazga is a young player, he has a good technique and I think that he is working very well under the physical aspect, but the tactical aspect he can improve a lot"

The PT issue

As always is the case with loan spells for Americans, fans back home will wonder how much playing time Miazga is set to enjoy with his temporary employers. Having opened the season solidly, Vitesse stand fifth in the table through four rounds, with just four goals allowed thus far.

Club captain Guram Kashia holds down the left center back slot, so Miazga will compete for time as his partner. Maikel van der Werff has played every minute of the first four games in that right center back position, but he is also capable of sliding to fullback or into defensive midfield, where Vitesse's depth is thinner than it is in the heart of defense.

Because of this, another veteran central defender, Arnold Kruiswijk, has started three of the first four games out at left back. This position-shifting dynamic should continue, at least until the window transfer window opens, giving Miazga a shot at eventually earning a starting role whether injuries thin the competing herd or not.

Of course, with the club playing well early, he probably won't break into the line-up right away. Look for him to get his first starting nod when Vitesse travel to fourth-division mites ASV De Dijk to open their Dutch Cup campaign on September 22.

How's life for an Eredivisie CB?

Needless to say, Miazga will get that tactical schooling Conte wants in the Netherlands. Dutch teams are very tactical from back to front, meaning the American will not simply be charged with containing all the attacking acumen one expects from the Eredivisie.

The popular old line claims that Dutch teams don't defend, but of course that is nonsense. They just defend differently, opting to aggressively seek possession all over the pitch.

Combined with offensive aggressiveness of wingbacks, this Dutch tactic of field-wide pressing when off the ball tends to spark fast breaks in both directions. As such, Eredivisie center backs spend a lot of time defending on the run. This is among the reasons a league that supposedly contains no defending has now consistently produced standout center backs like Jaap Stam, Frank de Boer and Jan Vertonghen for the top leagues.

In addition, Miazga will be expected to raise his game on the ball, as Eredivisie center backs are called upon to push the attack forward and help maintain possession. All in all, Conte couldn't have picked a much better place to send the youngster for seasoning.

What does the loan say about his Chelsea future?

Obviously, sending a player like Miazga for a stint away from West London is nothing new for the Blues, who have an astounding 38 players out on loan at the moment. Two of them, midfielder Lewis Baker and striker Nathan, are with him at Vitesse.

Current first-teamers Thibaut Courtois, Victor Moses, Nemanja Matić and Kurt Zouma all spent time on loan before breaking into the side. Even Terry was shipped to Nottingham Forest for two months before he became a line-up staple, so a loan spell does not necessarily spell doom for guys trying to crack the Chelsea rotation.

By the same token, shining while on loan doesn't ensure that a player will return to take a seemingly rightful place at Stamford Bridge. The likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have starred while on stints away from Chelsea and simply ended up earning the club some monster coin when their moves were turned into permanent transfers.

Simply put, Financial Fair Play rules have compelled the club to buy up loads of young talent, with many of these players farmed out for multiple seasons. For example, Tomas Kalas joined Chelsea in the summer of 2010, and with just two Blues appearances to his name, is now with his fifth loan side in six seasons.

Some players make it back to make it big with Chelsea, some move on and some stagnate in a loan purgatory. It will be up to Miazga to see that he ends up in the first group.

Mlssoccer / Foto’s CFC