The Premier League has seen some impressive newcomers enter the league this season. With four games gone, fans are beginning to see what their team’s new signings have to offer.
The likes of Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), André Ayew (Swansea), and Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) are just a few new names who’ve stood out for their respective clubs, but a team on the south coast are yet to unleash one of the signings of the summer.
Jordy Clasie joined Southampton for a fee of around £8m, which isn’t a small amount, but considering the money spend by an increasingly rich band of Premier League clubs, plus the £24m they received from Manchester United for Morgan Schneiderlin, it could turn out to be a bargain.
Clasie has been injured since joining the club, and is currently out with an ankle injury sustained in an u21 pre-season match – a game in which he was using to regain match fitness after recovering from a hamstring injury.
If these injuries are just a blip at the start of his Saints career rather than a sign of things to come, then he could go on to become one of the shrewdest signings made in the 2015 summer transfer window.
The former Feyenoord midfielder had been in the minds of the Southampton staff ever since it emerged that Schneiderlin could leave the club, and they wasted little time completing the deal once the Frenchman left to further his career at a Champions League club.
He commented that re-joining Ronald Koeman, who gave him his debut at Feyenoord, was a major reason behind his decision to come to Southampton:
“Ronald being here is a big thing for me and that was important in me coming here, but even if he wasn’t here I’d have come to this club. I played every game for him. He’s a good trainer and a good man so I like him, but I came here not only for him, I came here for the club.”
Clasie replaces Schneiderlin’s defensive ability in midfield, and whilst he’s not as tall as the man he’s replaced, he’ll more than make up for his lack of height with his intelligence, tenacity, and positioning.
He adds bite and busyness to any midfield, and will make sure opposition players don’t get much peace when he’s around.
As well as his competence without the ball, Clasie also boasts a fair few qualities when his side are in possession. He’s a good passer, both short and over distance, and he’ll move into good spaces to receive the ball from his team-mates.
Once he comes into the side he could form an effective partnership with defensive midfielders such as Victor Wanyama or Oriel Romeu, but he’d be equally at home playing alongside a deep lying play-maker.
He also took a fair amount of set pieces for Feyenoord, using his long passing ability to send dangerous balls into areas for his team-mates to attack.
It this type of responsibility, coupled with his work-rate and desire, which make him a natural captain, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him captain his country in the future, should he become a regular.
“Clasie has previously been referred to as the ‘Dutch Xavi’. Too far fetched? Yes. But the Feyenoord captain possesses a great understanding of the game and has the vision and technical skill to execute his ideas.”
As Ramesh notes, the comparison is far-fetched but he does share some of Xavi’s qualities: in game intelligence, excellent passing ability, and a penchant for set-pieces, but his perpetual scurrying in midfield and natural mental toughness also bring to mind another Barcelona player – Javier Mascherano.
Extravagant comparisons aside, Clasie’s ability has been there for all to see since Koeman gave him his first outing in the red and white of Feyenoord. Now in the same colours at Southampton, they’ll both be looking the improvements required for him to become a national team regular and one of the top midfielders in the league.
As is the case with any player subjected to great comparisons early in their career, his aim should be that future generations are looking for the next Jordy Clasie.