Perry Litman provides a scout report on young Dutch defender Terence Kongolo who has been impressing at Feyenoord.
With the Holland national team failing to get into this summer’s Euros, perhaps the Dutch league is getting overlooked more than ever when it comes to looking at the home-grown players being produced. Before, they had an excellent campaign in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, only just missing out on getting to the final, but they had gained applause for the football they had played. But with manager Louis van Gaal leaving for Manchester United, the team suffered with a miserable failure to qualify for Euro 2016, they lost their identity of Total Dutch football, and were reduced to total desperation, underperforming with hit-and-hope balls, the kind of football that had never been associated with Holland before.
But the truth is, the country still and most likely will keep producing talented players, players such as Feyenoord’s Terence Kongolo. Feyenoord’s academy has a remarkable list of players that have emerged from their academy, names such as Robin van Persie, Daryl Janmaat, Leroy Fer, Georginio Wijnadum and Jonathan de Guzman. Kongolo is another to the list and has everything you’d want in the modern defender.
Who is Terence Kongolo?
Born in Fribourg, Switzerland, Terence joined Feyenoord at 15 years old and in April 2012 he made his debut in Ronald Koeman’s first team side. He has since retained his place in the team’s defence and has developed into a key player. Kongolo has over 70 Eredivisie appearances under his belt, and has appeared in the Europa League and Champions League qualifiers.
Kongolo was also an important asset in the Dutch youth teams, from under 15 level to the senior side. In 2011, he was part of the Netherlands U-17 team that won the European Championship, scoring in their 5-2 final win over Germany, and was named in the Team of the Tournament. He was included in Louis van Gaal’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and played just once in their final group game against Chile in the 89th minute. He has only a handful of caps for the national side, the last was in Hollands 3-2 win over Wales in last November’s friendly, in a 5-3-2 formation at left back and was encouraged to attack.
Terence does face contention for a spot in the Dutch team from a younger player who is seen by Manager Danny Blind as the better option. Ajax’s Jairo Riedewald did play most of the Netherlands’ Euro qualifying games. Aged 19, he appears very similar to Kongolo in the way they play the game, both play in the same position and have similar build and height. Riedewald appears to have a good ability for vision and hitting long balls up field, usually getting to the intended man. But Kongolo for me, seems to be just slightly a better option, with more experience and perhaps slightly better pace and defending ability than Riedewald, who is still developing.
Style Of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses
Terence plays at both Left back and Centre back, although this season for Feyenoord he has played mainly at left back. He’s pretty tall at 6ft 2, however he appears to have a slightly below average build for a defender, nor is he seen as a big leader, more of a player who looks focused and concentrating on his own game, rather than communicating with his team mates. But the pros of the defender are his pace, athleticism, concentration, passing,
technical ability, work rate and his will to win games. He’s a player who will play in any position if asked to do so and will definitely give his all.
In any position he plays in, either at left back or in centre of defence, he will look to bring the ball forward, he is comfortable and confident in taking on opposition players when showing his close ball control and pace to get past players. When at left back, he will look to work the flanks/channels throughout the entire game and like many modern day footballers in that position, he is very attack minded. His pace and ability to get into advanced areas are certainly impressive. He understands the game well, when to go forward and when to stay back, as well as knowing when to keep the ball and when to release it to a team mate in a threatening position.
Consider the above graphic. The first picture shows Kongolo pushing forward with the ball high up the field, while the second picture shows his ability to beat players. In this instance, he is being closed down by 2 defenders but he uses his pace and skill to get past both of them down the wing and send in an inviting cross.
The defender is calm and composed on the ball, he has a good pass success ratio, and knows well when to clear the ball when needed. He likes to play short passes and doesn’t attempt many long balls. His pass completion rate is around 85%.
He might not appear big like I mentioned earlier but he uses his body well, in tackling and drawing in fouls, notably in the attacking areas of the field. He’s strong in tackling and eager to win the ball back for his team. He is also great at making last ditch tackles, shows real aggression to win the ball back, both in the air and on the floor, and does very well when competing in 1v1 situations. For such a tough tackler, he’s not reckless and doesn’t give away many fouls, nor does he get handed many yellow cards in matches. On average he makes 1.1 fouls a game.
Terence has the ability to whip in inviting crosses from the left hand side, his vision to pick out passes and crosses is a necessary factor for any modern day attacking full back. Despite this ability, he has only been able to get 2 assists and doesn’t get many goals for his club, these are areas that can still be worked and developed on.
What Does the Future Hold?
So far Kongolo has made 68 appearances for Feyenoord and his contract runs out in 2018. Terence Kongolo is experienced and is still developing his game, he is far from the finished article yet, but he possesses all the attributes and desire to go all the way to play at the highest level for club and country in the future. Feyenoord have a top defender on their hands and they know they will face a fight to keep the burgeoning talent if he starts making rapid progress. On an international level, he is still looking to become an established player.
Written by Perry Littman
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