Upon arrival at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2013, Marco van Ginkel was very much seen as the next big talent to come off the Dutch conveyor belt.
Viewed as the natural successor to club legend Frank Lampard, the 20-year-old was acquired for a snip at just £9million.
The continuation of Chelsea’s long standing relationship with Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem meant the Pensioners had first dibs on the local midfielder. Beating off advances of clubs in Italy and Holland, the link with the Arnhem based club was beginning to bear fruits.
Given every indication by the management that young Marco would be given the time and tailor-made tutelage to establish himself at the heart of the Chelsea midfield. Right off there were detractors of the suitability of this move so early in his career with Ajax Sporting Director Marc Overmars clearly bitter in not having got their man.
Although just 20-years-old, he had already stacked up over a century of appearances for Vitesse having made his debut at the tender age of 17, and clearly backed himself to make the acquired step up. Appearing particularly enamoured with his destination he was quoted as being “very happy to be at such a nice club with great players.” Commenting that “the stadium is good and the training ground is fantastic.”
[ffc-gal cat=”chelsea” no=”5″]
Mourinho certainly explained his reasoning for signing the Dutchman: “He covers a fantastic area of the field defensively and after that he has the instinct where he wants to go into finishing areas, he wants to score goals. He’s very good in the air.”
Likened to Michael Ballack by journalist Matt Barlow for possessing the same power and drive, coupled with exquisite technique on the ball. However, it is his goals from midfield that drew comparisons to Frank Lampard.
In the desirable position of still being able to learn from the master (Frank Lampard), van Ginkel was given the opportunity of taking on the mantle for the foreseeable five years of his contract.
Fate was not kind, and in only his fourth appearance for the club he suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in a League Cup tie against Swindon Town. Taking over seven months out with this set-back, his debut season was a bust.
Initially refusing to depart on loan, Marco reluctantly agreed to leave for the season. Suitors AC Milan captured his signature for the 2014/15 season. Appearing a very affable and intelligent young man, he realised the merits of playing for European giants Milan: “Milan is a great club where many Dutch players have played and some big names.”
Despite only making 17 appearances for the Rossoneri with his season littered with minor injuries, manager Filippo Inzaghi was keen to retain the maestro’s services for the coming season: “Unfortunately he is not our player. But he has grown a lot. He has played seven or eight games in a row and we are starting to see a great player. He does really well in training. My will would be if possible to keep him because he can give us a big hand.”
With Chelsea keen to get van Ginkel some more Premier League experience, he was offered to top-flight sides. Both Newcastle and Sunderland were early admirers but it was Stoke who completed the year-long loan deal for the coming season.
Another example of Stoke boss Mark Hughes making a shrewd signing to better his side’s technical capacity. It is within Hughes’ interest to play the Dutchman this season as it’s reported the buy-out fee is to decrease relative to increased games played.
With Marco making his move as part of the Asmir Begovic move in the opposite direction, it could be the Potters who receive the better end of the deal if they make his move permanent.
Still only 22, he could be a linchpin in the Stoke team for many years with Begovic destined to be Thibaut Courtois understudy at Chelsea.
Is this another example of Chelsea’s stockpiling nature overshadowing the delicate careers of those they recruit?
I hope for the Blues’ sake that they haven’t given up on Van Ginkel with a special future both domestically and internationally very much still on the cards.
Perhaps I hope more for Van Ginkel’s sake that this is his escape from the machine that is Chelsea.