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Under our Talent Radar banner, we have constantly strived to document and highlight the progress of the younger stars of the beautiful game, before they progress into household names. Our latest initiative within the burgeoning Talent Radar section is the introduction of #The10 feature.
This annual feature champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward 10 of the best young individuals across 10 primary categories. The fifth piece looks at the best young star in between the posts.
For all queries regarding this feature, eligibility and selection process, read this piece.
Ryan Thomas is a 20 year old New Zealander currently bearing the colours of PEC Zwolle. The youngster was signed from a youth academy in New Zealand in 2013 after Zwolle took him on trial and were impressed with what he had to offer. The player is usually deployed as a winger, but can also fill in in the middle of the park, a position he was deployed in during his youth days.
Thomas is the only Kiwi in the entire Eredivisie, and indeed, The Netherlands aren’t really a well trodden path for his compatriots. Despite this though, he’s settled in well, and made a huge impact on the league, and his team. His greatest success has come in the cup final in 2014, where he scored a brace to help his side beat the mighty Ajax and lift the trophy.
From being a trialist, to being a key player, the journey for Ryan Thomas has been long, and it has been fruitful. This year has been an excellent year for the Kiwi star. He’s established himself as an international player for New Zealand, and become an important part of the creative unit at PEC Zwolle as well. The winger has picked up a lot of assists in this period, with his direct running, pace, and dribbling making him a player to watch out for as a defender. Though his goal scoring record isn’t really the greatest, it is something he is working on improving, with a brace coming in the recent dominant win over Roda. Even in the cup, Thomas put in some impressive performances to help the reigning champions go all the way to the final, with an extra time goal against Cambuur in the quarter final being the most important contribution.
Thomas initially began his career as a central player, being reared to play in that position in his native New Zealand. But the move to The Netherlands has seen him take up the role of a winger, and do so very effectively. His pace, dribbling, and direct running make him a threat at all times, and his creativity is something that is never in any doubt. Indeed, if there is any criticism of him, it is that he isn’t enough of a direct goal threat. His goal scoring record simply isn’t good enough, and this is something that the player himself has recognized and acknowledged. He’s only scored two so far this season, with both coming recently, and one coming from the penalty spot. His crossing, however, is far more refined, and he poses a threat from this angle at all times.
The young Kiwi midfielder has already made an impact on the Dutch game, and is very well regarded across the land. He’s made his breakthrough at the international stage despite his tender years, and has a long way to go. While there have been many promoting him for a move to a different club, Thomas will need to evolve his game a little and go to the next level before he is seriously considered a prospect to succeed at the top of the European game. His talent and work ethic aren’t in doubt though, and that is something that will always hold him in good stead.
Read about all the players feature in #The10, right here.