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Alex Lynch provides a detailed scout report of yet another of Feyenoord’s young prospects, Rick Karsdorp.
Even though the Eredivisie isn’t considered one of the top leagues, they certainly produce a lot of young talent in the Dutch top flight. Teams like Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord have produced some of the top Dutch players like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder in the past. More recent players from these teams include Riechedly Bazoer, Memphis Depay, Stefan De Vrij and the topic of this scout report Rick Karsdorp. Along with Van Beek and Terence Kongolo, Karsdorp is a young defender who has been on the rise with his impressive domestic form.
Karsdorp was born and raised in the Netherlands as he is from the city of Schoonhoven in the province of South Holland. With a population of just under 12,000, the city lies in the shadow of the province’s biggest city of Rotterdam. Since Karsdorp was from a city so close to Rotterdam he ended up with Feyenoord, where he’s been ever since.
Karsdorp quickly rose through the ranks in Feyenoord’s famous Varkenoord academy that has produced some of the stars listed above. And since 2011 he’s represented his country at the youth level when he made his u-17 debut. Every year since he’s continued to represent his country up until 2014 when he featured for their under 21 side. After continuing to impress at the youth national level and in the academy ranks Karsdorp made his first appearance for Feyenoord in August of 2014 in a Champions League qualifier. Karsdorp’s rapid rise would continue and by the end of the season he would become Feyenoord’s first team right back. The young defender made 19 appearances in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord by the end of the season and 21 in all competitions. Going into last season, he was the unquestioned first choice right back after notching a couple of assists in the previous league campaign. And Feyenoord’s faith in their young defender would pay off as he started to make a name for himself with his impressive performances. He ended up making 28 appearances in the league while picking up an impressive 10 assists in the process. Karsdorp was so impressive that he got his first senior call up in September for Euro 2016 qualifiers, and he got called up again in March. The fact that he’s already been called up to the national team at this stage in his career displays how good he was last season. And based on Karsdorp’s characteristics it looks like he’ll be a fixture in the team for years to come.
As the modern game becomes more reliant on attacking full backs like Marcelo, Dani Alves and Hector Bellerin, the full back becomes a valuable commodity. And that’s exactly what Karsdorp is at this point in his career, an attacking full back that will help you go forward and get crosses into the box. Since this is his style, his strengths naturally fit this type of player. One of his main strengths as a player is unsurprisingly his ability to whip a good cross into the box, as he averaged over one completed cross per game according to whoscored.com. This shows that he gets a lot of good crosses into the box every game since he was able to complete at least one of them. Besides his crosses completed, he also was able to provide many crosses that were finished by his teammates which led to Karsdorp having as many assists as he had. One of his assists he ran down the right flank and received the ball, which he immediately crosses into the box. The low and hard cross landed right onto the feet of Feyenoord captain Dirk Kuyt who slotted home the easy finish. Besides that cross, Karsdorp also set up striker Michael Kramer for a goal against Roda JC with an accurate cross. When he got the ball on the right side, Karsdorp crossed it into the box right away and Kramer was able to head the cross into the back of the net. Both instances showed Karsdorp’s ability to provide accurate crosses into the box for his teammates.
Besides being a very good crosser of the ball, Karsdorp is also a good regular passer of the ball. In the Eredivisie this season the Dutchman completed 82% of his passes (according to whoscored.com), which is a very good total and is very impressive for a young player. Karsdorp also averaged over one key pass per game, which means he was constantly putting his teammates in positions to score. Some of that has to do with his impressive crossing ability, but he also showed that he’s more than just a good crosser at right back. One of the instances where he showed his great passing ability came in a home match against Willem II. With the game scoreless, Karsdorp received the ball in the middle of the park, and then cut inside. After doing so, he unleashed a great through ball onto teammate Eljero Elia who was able to get a good look at the goal and score. Karsdorp was able to break down Willem II’s defense with his ability to locate his teammates on the ground.
Besides his crossing and passing ability, Karsdorp is also very composed and doesn’t try to do more then he needs to when defending. Since this is the case, he only had 4 yellow cards in the 28 league games he featured in. He had less yellow cards then teammates and highly regarded young defenders Sven van Beek and Terence Kongolo, which shows that he is above his peers when it comes to discipline. Karsdorp’s discipline is something that is not only unique in an attacking oriented young defender, but it’s also something that’s tough to teach a player.
Another strength that Karsdorp has that is tough to teach in a player is pace. One of the main reasons why Karsdorp is able to deliver high quality crosses is that he can create a lot of space for himself with his pace. He also uses his pace to set up passes and make runs behind the opposing defense. His pace makes him able to contribute as much as he does to Feyenoord’s attack.
Even though the young Dutch defender has a lot of strengths as a player, he also has weaknesses as well. Despite the fact that he stands at 6 feet tall, which is taller than a good amount of right-backs, Karsdorp isn’t great at winning the ball in the air. In fact, he won less than 1 aerial duel per game. And even though some of that must be attributed to the fact that Feyenoord do most of the attacking in their league games, that’s still a miniscule number for a defender of his height. Besides his aerial deficiencies, he’s also not as efficient of a tackler as other young defenders such as Kongolo or van Beek. Karsdorp is a decent tackler and very disciplined, but he often declines to tackle or doesn’t do the job when required.
Since Karsdorp has only been the first choice right back at Feyenoord for one full season, it looks like his immediate future lies in the Eredivisie. On an international level, it looks like Danny Blind will continue to give young players from the Eredivisie a chance on the big stage. This means that Karsdorp will likely continue to get called up to the senior team, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes his debut. But until he does leave Feyenoord, he will continue to harness his game in the Eredivisie, and hopefully become the next in a long line of star players to come from Feyenoord.
Written by Alex Lynch