Martin King discusses whether or not Jetro Willems could replace Alberto Moreno.
Jetro Willems is a Dutch left-back who plays for Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven. The 22-year-old began his career in the Dutch second division with Spartaan ’20, before moving to Sparta Rotterdam where he progressed through the youth ranks to make his senior debut in 2011, aged just 17.
That same year Willems made a move to PSV and continued in the club’s youth side for two months before making his debut against Vitesse Arnhem on October 23. He became the youngest Dutchman to play in a UEFA competition when he started for PSV against Hapoel Tel-Aviv and was permanently promoted to the first team there-after.
The decision paid off thanks to then first choice left-back Erik Pieters being out injured. Willems received a lot of playing time and in addition to scoring his first professional goal in April 2012, showcased his defensive and attacking capabilities despite his relatively young age.
Willems’ international career was already glittering at that time as he was part of the Netherlands squad who won the under-17 UEFA European Championships in 2011. That lead to his first senior international call-up in 2012 and he featured in a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign for the Dutch, becoming the fourth youngest player to wear the orange colours. He has won two league titles and three cups with PSV to date.
All throughout his quick rise in Dutch football, some of Europe’s top clubs, including Liverpool, have certainly been keeping an eye on Willems. The 22-year-old’s strengths lie in his attacking attributes. He is blessed with pace and good technical ability and uses these qualities to attack opposition defenders by dribbling, playing key passes and crossing from deep – even taking set-pieces. He’s also gifted defensively with his aerial and tackling abilities, whilst his strength and awareness allows him to break up oncoming attacks from opposition strikers.
Liverpool have most recently been linked with a £13 million move for Willems and Reds fans have reacted to the news positively with hopes that the Dutchman can replace current first choice left-back Alberto Moreno. But would Willems really represent an upgrade on the Spaniard or are some people just guilty of overrating the youngster?
First of all, it’s safe to say that Moreno can do just about everything Willems can do with the ball in attack and aside from strength, awareness and aerial prowess, the Spaniard possesses most – if not all – of Willems’ attributes as a left-back.
Secondly, the number one reason why Moreno has ever been criticized at Liverpool is his defensive incompetence, which is what the Anfield faithful will expect the exact opposite from whoever replaces him. Despite the fact that Willems is a highly rated defender in all of Europe, it’s perhaps worth a mention that he too can be suspect to some errors and poor displays at the back, thus the reason why most people’s praise of him begins with his attacking abilities.
This may sound like an attempt to get Liverpool fans to change their minds about buying the Dutch full-back (and trust me, it’s not) however, the club has to assess every target’s capability to become a complete success carefully and beyond all the hype that surrounds the player – we wouldn’t want to make the same mistake Manchester United made with Memphis Depay, now would we?
It’d be fair to insist that Willems is still a youngster and is therefore in a position to learn a whole lot and develop more. If Liverpool do buy the left-back, Anfield will be the perfect place for him to do all that learning and who better a teacher to have than Jürgen Klopp?
One of Willems’ former PSV teammates, Georginio Wijnaldum, recently joined the club and in congratulating his fellow countryman on the move on Twitter, Willems sparked talks of a move to the Reds by saying,
“I wish you all the best at your new club my friend, we’ll see each other again soon!”
Fellow Kopites, make of that what you will.