It’s human instinct to stick with the familiar. And Louis van Gaal, by his own admission, is indeed human and not a God.
So it makes sense that in the search for star goalkeeper David De Gea’s replacement, van Gaal would go for a player whom he has already battle-tested himself: Jasper Cillessen.
The Ajax stopper has cemented a regular starting position for himself playing for Holland under van Gaal starting in 2013. The 26-year-old played in every game of the Netherlands’ 2014 World Cup semi-final run. Last season in Amsterdam, he led the Eredevise with 12 clean sheets and an 82.1 percent save success rate.
Van Gaal knows what he’d be getting with Cillessen, but in case you need some more evidence, here are the keeper’s top five saves according to FootballFanCast…
When Ajax visited arch-rivals Feyenoord on September 21st, the tension was high as always. Ajax scored early on in the game, but the home side threatened to retaliate in the 92nd minute when striker Mitchell te Vrede leapt up on a cross and aimed a header towards the right side of the goal. Cillessen’s outstretched hand was there to protect Ajax’s lead and ultimately win the game.
In the Netherlands’ final World Cup qualifying match against Turkey, Cillessen once again proved his adeptness at protecting a lead. The 1.88 meter keeper stretched to incredible lengths to deny Gokhan Tore from long range, even adjusting as the ball deflected off a Holland defender.
In an Eredivisie contest against ADO Den Haag in March, the Dutchman defended another well-placed header. This time, the shot was aimed at the top left corner, and Cillessen managed to reach up with his left hand to tip the ball back over the top of the goal.
Poor Feyenoord. They just can’t seem to sneak anything past Cillessen. Visiting Ajax in late January, the Pride of the South were eager to extract revenge for their loss earlier in the season. It seemed they would get their chance in the 19th minute, when a Feyenoord striker entered the six-yard box in a one-on-one situation. Cillessen charged out of the goal and slid to block the shot with his foot.
Cillessen struck again in Holland’s 2014 World Cup group stage match versus Chile. Star forward Alexis Sanchez, then playing for Barcelona, posed a threat for the South Americans all game, including this chance where he snuck down the right wing and ended up behind Cillessen. The keeper ran back and slid underneath Sanchez’s outstretched foot to make the save.