Jordy Clasie 22 Defender Feyenoord Netherlands
2013 has been…
A subtle step in the right direction. Jordy Clasie is a leader at 22, entrusted with the Feyenoord captaincy in the absence of Graziono Pelle and likely to have the opportunity to get used to it in the coming years. The Haarlem-born midfielder has done little more than consolidate his form this year, but there is better to come and his personal traits have come to the fore.
Clasie is a bulldog, relentlessly tracking back and putting in the kind of hard work that is referred to as a bare minimum when it’s there but a vital component when it’s not. His determination in duels is boundless and his character is both bigger than his stature and older than his body.
But reported interest from Arsenal and Fiorentina, and a burgeoning international career with one of the planet’s greatest football nations, cannot be explained by tenacity alone. Clasie has that by the bucketload but his biggest strengths are his passing range and his ability to first see, then execute, the right ball.
He’s still learning on both fronts of course. A player happy to gee up the crowd but also liable to be booked for a late tackle or a touch of dissent, Clasie is also honing his trade on the ball. His passing is not perfect; in open play he has a lovely simple passing game, keeping Feyenoord ticking, but he can also misplace passes and dwell in possession.
A pair of errors in the spring demonstrated Clasie’s rough edges. Feyenoord beat PSV in a blizzard in February but conceded the first goal because Clasie held the ball too long under pressure in midfield with opportunities around him to find an out-ball. A few weeks later he was relieved to see Utrecht squander an opportunity after a naïve dispossession from a throw-in.
But we’re splitting hairs, because the reality of Clasie is that he is an absolute joy and is going to get better with experience. He’s dynamic and energetic off the ball, blessed with good short passing and an infrequently used but effective longer game with the ball at his feet. He has good close control when running with the ball and a decent eye for when to change direction and find a pass, making him an important pivot for the Feyenoord attack.
Always in space and looking for the ball, Clasie drops in as deep as the central defenders to take control and dictate the rhythm. He’s set pieces are usually good – but not always, by any means – and his tendency to pull out wide and offer a little width on the right at times to support the attackers is useful.
The best summary of Clasie, though, is that he’s the perfect solution to the dilemma of whether to have a defensive midfielder to break up play or to act as a deep-lying playmaker, at least in a good team that doesn’t necessarily need a big physical presence. He’s a terrier and an artist, a fighter and a thinker.
With the armband around his bicep, Clasie’s destiny would, in an ideal world, be to fulfill his potential as a Feyenoord legend. Demand from elsewhere might render that unlikely but he’s that type of player, the kind supporters adore because of their blend of skill, passion and affection for the club and its supporters. The simple fact is that a polished Clasie is likely to be too good even for Feyenoord and he will, if he continues to mature, be heading elsewhere eventually.
That’s a big ‘if’, however. At 22, and with a good number of games behind him, it could be argued that Clasie’s lesser characteristics should have been further smoothed than they are by now. Speculative it may be, but we’re satisfied that he’ll get there in his own time. Within his diminutive frame is a Champions League regular just waiting to burst into the living rooms of Europe. Nevertheless, certain over-ambitious comparisons are both unfair and unhelpful.
Clasie’s 2014 is, like so many in this list, about whether he can earn himself a place at the World Cup. He has a handful of caps including some recent appearances and he’s undoubtedly in Louis van Gaal’s thinking ahead of the tournament in Brazil. With a little work on decision-making and individual errors in possession, it would be unwise to bet against Clasie making the cut.
"Clasie had a solid year, but for someone labelled 'the Dutch Xavi' solid doesn't cut it. More dominant midfield displays at Feyenoord required to show he's a world class talent." - Michiel Jongsma, Benefoot
"Only Dusan Tadic has made more passes in the opposition half than Jordy Clasie (955) in 2013 in the Dutch top-flight." - Opta
C Emerging as Feyenoord’s new beating heart