Sheffield Wednesday have nine games left remaining in their quest to survive in the Championship.
The Owls need to build on their win prior to the international break if they are to even have a chance, as they remain six points adrift but do hold a game in hand on the side occupying that valuable 21st place.
Despite the uncertainty over which division the Yorkshire club will be competing in next season, several decisions need to be made before the end of the current campaign as several players are out of contract.
Having been in charge for a month now, you’d imagine that Owls boss Darren Moore has a pretty good idea of who he wants to keep around, and who he doesn’t.
In that latter list should almost certainly be defensive flop Joost van Aken, who appears to be a wanted man anyway.
According to The Star, the Dutchman is attracting interest from the Netherlands, 2. Bundesliga, Turkey and Belgium, although no specific clubs have been named. He is able to sign a pre-contract agreement with any of the unnamed teams, given they play outside of England, meaning he could already know where his future lies.
It’s also claimed that the 26-year-old is thought to be keeping his options open, meaning a stay at Hillsborough isn’t out of the realms of possibility, either.
However, it’s probably wise if Moore and Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri wave goodbye to him, irrespective of how their immediate future pans out.
Van Aken is yet to feature for the club in 2021, and that very much has been the story of his Wednesday career. It’s easy to forget that he signed from SC Heerenveen for a total of £4.5m in the summer of 2017.
At that current rate, he’s managed eight appearances per season at Hillsborough, and that’s just not good enough.
What makes it even worse is the fact that he sits amongst the Owls’ highest-earners on a whopping £20k-per-week, as per Salary Sport – no wonder he may want to stay at the club.
Only the likes of Keiren Westwood, Jordan Rhodes, Barry Bannan, Adam Reach and Tom Lees are earning more, and these are all first team starters – regular ones when fit, too. Van Aken is not, so the club are clearly sending a lot of money down the drain on him.
Excluding his season-long loan in Germany, the Owls have spent around £7.25m – and counting. That’s around £220k per appearance, and you’d have to say it just has not been worth it.
Aside from persistent injury problems, van Aken has been amongst the Owls’ worst performers this season, averaging a rating of 6.52 as per WhoScored. By comparison, Moses Odubajo (6.54), Sam Hutchinson (6.66) and Massimo Luongo (6.65) have all done better despite their own doubts.
Moore must move on from the Dutch flop this summer.
AND in other news, Moore could solve a season-long Owls problem by unleashing this academy gem…