Following Joleon Lescottâ€™s protracted move to Manchester City, David Moyes has been0 frantically scratching around for replacement centre-backs before the transfer deadline hits. On Friday night it appeared that the Toffees had made their move after having a bid for Atletico Madridâ€™s 25-year-old Dutch defender John Heitinga accepted.
Heitinga began his career at Ajax Amsterdam. In seven seasons with the Godenzonen he made 157 appearances scoring 17 goals. He captained the club and won a whole host of honours in the Oranje capital including the Dutch Super Cup, the KNVB Cup and the Eredivisie championship.
As with most successful Dutchman, bigger European clubs soon came calling and last season he moved to the Rojiblancos for â‚¬10 million.
Heitinga is a versatile defender who, as well as being a centre-half, can adequately perform in the right-back slot or even a defensive midfielder. He is known for his bravery and being a fierce competitor. He is strong in the tackle and enjoys a physical confrontation.
But their are drawbacks to Heitinga, particularly the Dutchman’s distict lack of pace which leaves him vunerable whenever he is turned by a pacey opposition forward. Further, as with many footballers his concentration is sometimes suspect leading him to take up poor defensive positions. Combined, these problems have contributed to Heitinga all too often finding himself in the referee’s notebook, and last season he collected disappointing 12 yellow cards in La Liga.
Also of concern, Heitinga’s career has been interrupted by a number of severe injuries to his knees. In 2002 he missed a whole season with problems to both his right and left knees and last season he was on the treatment table for a month due to yet another right knee injury.
Whoever replaces Lescott at the heart of the Everton defence has big boots to fill. Here at 101gg we remian doubtful over whether Heitinga has the overall talent and composure to help solve Everton’s defensive problems.
Evertonâ€™s recent success has been built on a strong defensive reargaurd and if Heitinga found it difficult to cope with the technical players in La Liga, he may well find it harder to deal with the frenetic pace of the Premier League. If Moyes was to splash the cash he maybe worth a gamble, but arguably Atletico will be the happiest of all the parties involved by recouping most of their outlay on the player who never really sparkled in Spain.
Video evidence of John Heitinga can be seen here.