Why Southampton should reignite their interest in Joey Veerman
Back in September, Dutch outlet Voetbal International (h/t Hampshire Live) had mentioned Southampton among the potential suitors for Heerenveen midfielder Joey Veerman. However, the Saints eventually ended up signing Ibrahima Diallo from French club Brest before the summer deadline, with Veerman staying put in his homeland.
Joey Veerman rose through the youth ranks of FC Volendam in the Dutch second-tier and made his professional bow back in 2016. He accumulated 12 goals and 12 assists in 81 appearances for his boyhood club before earning a move to the Eredivisie with Heerenveen in 2019.
The 21-year-old enjoyed an impressive debut season in the top-flight last term despite the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in premature termination of the 2019-20 campaign. Veerman amassed 4 goals and 5 assists in 22 league outings and came to be known as one of the best rising midfield talents in the Netherlands.
Veerman has hit the ground running once again this season, registering 2 goals and 2 assists in 6 appearances in the Eredivisie. The central midfielder has been instrumental in Heerenveen’s strong start to the campaign that has seen them win four out of their six opening league fixtures so far.
Veerman perfectly fits Southampton’s transfer profile
Southampton roped in Ibrahima Diallo before the summer deadline following the departure of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham. The young Frenchman is yet to start a league fixture for the Saints but Ralph Hasenhuttl has already handed him a couple of cameos to gradually phase Diallo into the first-team mix at St. Mary’s.
Diallo is held in high regard for his potential but is yet to evolve into a finished article capable of starting week in week out. Southampton currently have James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu as their first-choice central midfield pairing but there isn’t a lot of depth beyond that.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Saints to sign another central midfielder in January to increase competition for places in a key area of the pitch. And Hasenhuttl’s side should look no further beyond one of their summer targets, Joey Veerman, if they decide to go back into the market for some additional cover in that department.
Young and talented, Veerman also falls in the same bracket as Diallo. The Dutchman is still very much in the developmental phase of his career but his strong start to life in the Eredivisie clearly indicates that he could gradually cope with the challenge of playing in a more competitive league moving forward.
Profiled as a box-to-box midfielder with defensive and attacking attributes, Veerman was one of the leading chance creators (he averaged 2.5 key passes per game) from a deep role in the Eredivisie last season.
As evident from his heat map in 2019-20, the 21-year-old excels with his high work rate and contributes equally at both ends of the pitch. Those qualities should make him an ideal fit for Hasenhuttl’s high-pressing philosophy at Southampton.
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Southampton have grabbed the headlines with deals for some top up and coming talents in the market since the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl. The likes of Mohammed Salisu, Che Adams, Moussa Djenepo, and Diallo have all come through the door in recent times and a potential move for Joey Veerman would represent a continuation of the same policy.
The Austrian gaffer has an excellent track record of moulding youngsters into quality players. Southampton could have an absolute gem on their hands in the years to come if Hasenhuttl manages to extract the best out of the Dutchman.