Bruno Martins Indi 21 Defender Feyernoord Netherlands
2013 has been…
An old-fashioned reality check. Bruno Martins Indi, Portuguese-born but capped for the Netherlands having graduated from Feyenoord’s youth system, broke into the first team in 2012 but has struggled to establish himself in his chosen position in 2013. Typically a central defender, Martins Indi has had plenty of playing time this year despite a hamstring injury picked up in innocuous circumstances against PSV in February.
However, much of that time has been spent at left back and he is neither happy nor at his best in that role. He is evidently a very competent football player and a good defender. He stands up strong in the tackle and is, for a full back at least, a strong and intimidating presence. His experiences as a centre back are clear to see in his reading of the game.
His ability on the ball is enough for him to get by on the flank. He likes to creep forward and even take on a shot here and there. He has a calm first touch, passes relatively well and his crossing is also solid, though by no means consistent. He’s happy to travel with the ball and keep possession to allow himself the time to find a pass into feet, all of which adds up to a sensible tendency to keep it simple.
Perhaps the biggest negative is one derived from being played out of position. He is often beaten far too easily for a full back, and looks every inch a central defender in a wide defensive spot. He is caught out of position too readily and can be sucked into his more natural central position, to his own cost, quite easily. During his time covering there, left back has been considered a weak spot for Feyenoord; hardly a ringing endorsement of the youngster.
Nevertheless, judgement should really be reserved until he’s been seen more often in the place where he quite rightly feels he belongs. He might not have quite showed enough to earn the place he craves, but when he does we’ll see what he’s really about because the simple fact of the matter is that he is not a full back. What he should be, and will likely become, is an assured young centre back with good awareness.
Despite slightly treading water at club level, Martins Indi isn’t being overlooked by Louis van Gaal. He now has over 10 caps for the senior Dutch side after playing at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 level before debuting for the first team in August 2012. He made an impressive start and has featured frequently for the Oranje either side of a return to the Under-21 team for the European Championships in the summer.
Two goals in qualifying for the World Cup will have helped him in his quest to keep himself in the picture when it comes to a place at the finals in Brazil. So, Martins Indi faces a couple of clear challenges that should aid his focus.
First, perform consistently enough to win that place in the centre of Feyenoord’s defence and then stay there. Second, spend enough time in an orange shirt between now and next summer to make himself indispensable for both club and country. Nobody said it would be easy.
"Last year was Martins Indi's big breakthrough, but 2013 has raised doubts. Demanded a role in central defence at Feyenoord, but has hardly proven why he is already better than Mathijsen." - Michael Jongsma, Benefoot
"At the under-21 European Championships, Bruno Martins Indi made more clearances than any other Dutch player (12)." - Opta
D A step up needed in 2014