Leroy Fer 22 Midfielder FC Twente
Is there anything wrong with ‘just’ being a good player? We think not and that’s exactly what Leroy Fer is - a good player, no more, no less.
Will he be troubling the Ballon d’Or awards top three for the next decade or so?
Will he be ripping apart Champions League midfields on his own and moving for transfer records time and time again?
Will he be a tidy, consistent, and powerful internationally capped midfielder with a decent club career and a move to one of Europe’s ‘big three’ leagues at some point in his career?
Yes, almost definitely, and that’s enough isn’t it?
You see sometimes we expect the exceptional and forget just how difficult that is to obtain. We want fireworks and headlines and excellence when there’s nothing wrong with just being good at what you’re paid to do on the football pitch. Leroy Fer, or to call him by his nickname – the bouncer, is in the team to do some of the heavy-lifting, to do the straight-forward jobs to the best of his ability, chip in with the odd goal and let others try the exuberant. That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy a flash of bravado himself, witness his brilliant Panenka against NEC in August for proof, but he does the simple things really well and we sometimes forget that can be the hardest job of all.
It’s a shame that he picked up the knee injury that has, at the time of writing, kept him out of the Twente line-up until a late November substitute appearance in the Europa League, as he’s started this season really well. 3 goals in 4 appearances saw him given his second cap in Holland’s World Cup qualifier with Turkey where the injury occurred. Initially thought to be not too bad it was later diagnosed as needing surgery and has kept him on the sidelines since. No matter though as it’s nothing career threatening, full recovery should be made and he should slot straight back in.
Coming through the ranks at Feyenoord it took a couple of seasons in the first team to establish an identity and a position. He was played everywhere from full-back to secondary striker before settling into the all-action defensive midfield role where he plays his best football now. Having been at De Kuip since 1999 having signed to club’s youth system at the age of nine, he made over a 100 appearances there – a huge amount for a young player and a testament to the consistency he achieved in a short space of time.
At the age of 21 and with a year left on his contract, he felt his time at Feyenoord was coming to an end after twelve years with the club. In the summer of 2011 he was moved to say he wouldn’t sign a further extension to his deal and they would lose him on a free the following year if they didn’t sell him. With heavy hearts all round the club agreed a reported €5.5m fee with Twente and Fer moved keen for a new challenge.
As word originally spread across the scouting networks of Europe that he wouldn’t sign Feyenoord’s contract plenty of interest was registered in the player. He instructed his agent that he would only listen to offers from Eredivisie clubs as he felt he wasn’t ready to leave the league and wanted to continue to develop his game there. This was common sense, a trait evident in a lot of his game, and he has continued to make tidy progress and become an important player for the club in a key role.
Last season he was as neat and tidy as ever but had to watch a resurgent Feyenoord power past his new club to finish second while Twente had to make do with sixth. He was virtually ever present, making 41 appearances for the club and recording a career best 11 goals. He’s started in the same vein this year and when back from injury properly should enjoy the second half of the season. This is a good player in a team that uses him well in a league that’s familiar. Like we said it may not be spectacular every time but it is impressive.
Since signing for Twente his next move has been speculated and the name that keeps coming up is Liverpool as cover for and then replacement of Lucas Leiva, particularly if the long-term injury that has stalled the Liverpool midfielder has restricted his game at all. The Reds have come up before in this list when it comes to being linked with good young players and they will come up again before the end. Would he be a good fit for Anfield? Yes, but we’d clarify that by saying he’s the type of consistent, reliable, powerful player who would fit in anywhere in the Premier League, or the Bundesliga or La Liga for that matter.
The move will come eventually and we see him as he is now to be honest, a key player at a Europa League level club or one of the Champions League qualifiers. That should in no way downplay the talent or career and will represent better than probably 50 to 60% of what this list will achieve over a decade in the game. The C+ mark is representative of taking a new challenge and running with it, having a great season and continuing to progress.
We think that wherever his destiny lies you’ll be able to rely on him to put in a C grade season or better for the rest of his career and to be honest, there are few on this list that will achieve anything like that level of consistency.
“A solid year. Does the simple things well.” – John Dobson (European Football Correspondent)
C+ Will become exactly the sort of player you would love to have at your club for a decade or more