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Scout Report

Scout Report: Jairo Riedewald | Palace’s Dutch Defender

Rob Cable offers us an insight at Crystal Palace’s new Dutch signing Jairo Riedewald.

Crystal Palace completed the signing of Jairo Riedewald from Ajax for a fee of £7.9 million, a switch which will see the new Eagles boss Frank de Boer reunite with his Dutch compatriot. Palace have been lightweight in defence over the past few seasons, and they’ll look to tighten at the back after their defensively disappointing 2016/17 campaign, where they conceded on 63 occasions.

Who is Jairo Riedewald?

Born in Haarlem, Riedewald is a unique mixture of Dutch, Indonesian and Surinamese heritage. He signed professionally for Ajax in March 2013 and has become one of their glowing academy products ever since. The defender committed to a three-year deal, which kept him in the Dutch capital until 2016. A series of impressive displays then granted him an extension Johan Cruijff Arena.

Riedewald started life in heroic fashion for Frank de Boer’s 2013 Ajax side. The then 17 year-old came on as a 80th minute substitute to make his debut, replacing Daley Blind to score two dramatic late goals in a famous Eredivisie comeback victory. The goals made him the youngest goalscoring debutant in the league and club history for 17 years.
The 20 year-old has represented the Netherlands from U15s through to U21s level, accumulating 37 caps. Riedewald has continued his good form for his country and has so far been rewarded with three caps at senior level.

What is his Style of Play?

The role that the 20 year-old plays is similar to the one that Eric Dier plays for Tottenham Hotspur. He will happily interchange between defensive and midfield positions.

Talent Radar Accolades:

Riedewald is an assured defender who comfortably plays out from the back. The Dutchman has the ability to control the tempo of games. Without the ball he stands off attackers and waits for them to make a move before typically timing standing tackles. When winning back and receiving the ball, Riedewald maintains possession with great composure. He has the ability to shield off incoming players, create space and finding a teammate in order to create a move going forward. The Dutchman is known to be a bit of a risk taker because of his habit of pressing on surging runs with the ball and often looks for a killer-pass. Although Riedewald is a player who looks to bring positivity to the pitch, there are incidents where he can make a rash decision when there are options which looks far simpler. This could be a case of naivety down to age, but it is certainly something which brings hunger and excitement to his game.

What are his Strengths?

First and foremost, Riedewald is an extremely versatile player. He arguably operates best as a centre-half, but he can do a job filling while in as left-back and even covering as a defensive midfielder. This is becoming a modern-day trend to have a player in your team who is dependable as a utility man; someone who can fill the holes when other players are injured or absent. Whilst Riedewald is likely to be a consistent starter anyway, the added depth he will bring to Palace is a major plus for the Londoners.

The Dutchman has speed on his side. For a defender, he is quick off the mark, often accelerating in small bursts. He maintains long distance sprints to support in offensive positions. This will be a major asset for him, with his switch to the Premier League, where the opposition will press the Palace backline with a high work rate. Once more, this meets the profile of the type of player Palace are looking for: an individual talent who can gel with their attacking flair going forward.

Although Ajax didn’t win the Dutch Eredivisie in last season, Riedewald has gained experience playing for a historic club that competed for major trophies in their 2016/17 campaign. Ajax challenged went toe to toe with eventual winners Feyenoord in the Eredivisie , whilst Riedewald’s young Ajax team also reached the final of the Europa League, where they came runners up to Manchester United. All things considered, this should only have a positive impact for the defender, and it should provide him with further confidence whilst settling into the Premier League.

What are his Weaknesses?

At the tender age of 20, the Dutchman is showing his undoubted potential,deputising in the Premier League at such an early stage of his career. Despite that, he still has plenty of room for improvement. There are many young starlets who make their way from European leagues early on and struggle to get regular playing time. The Dutch international will likely be relied upon more for his defence duties than his creative talent, making sure that his contribution is sensible and providing assurance at the back will be a test for the youngster.

Riedewald should look to work on his strength and aggression. With all due respect, the Eredivisie isn’t known for its physicality and tough tackles. The English nature, particularly while defending, will feel quite different for him unless he focuses on these areas. So the youngster would benefit if he addresses strength and conditioning in his training, apart from working on high impact tackling and demonstrating the ability to hold off bullish strikers.   

His composure on the ball had been questionable at times in the 2016/17 season with Ajax. Whilst he undeniably has a good first touch and a talented range of passing, his decision making and overall collectiveness can hinder his performance. Again, the Premier League is a demanding place to be and the quality of strikers in this division will not forgive any mistakes or sluggishness. Throughout his first season, Riedewald should look to play his football simply whilst learning English football, playing an easy pass and making routine defending his priority.

Rob Cable

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