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Vitesse Aim For Title With Loan Connections


The GelreDomeHave you looked at the Eredivisie league table so far this season? If not then you may be a little surprised by the team that sit at the top. Title winners from recent years fill up the top five; FC Twente, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar are all jostling for position. But ahead of all of these teams are Vitesse, a club that has never won the Eredivisie and who herald from the city of Arnhem in the East of the Netherlands.



Last season they did finish fourth and gained a place in the Europa League for this campaign. However, they subsequently lost 3-2 on aggregate to Romania's Petrolul Ploieşti, and then in their opening league fixture they lost 4-2 away at RKC Waalwijk, the club who now sit 2nd bottom of the league table.

So, what's happened since this inauspicious start to their season? Well Vitesse did lose two more league fixtures at the beginning of October, but aside from those blips, they have been racking up the positive results. They defeated FC Twente early on, drew 1-1 with AZ Alkmaar, and the stand-out result came on November 2nd when they travelled to the Amsterdam ArenA and beat Ajax 1-0.

Now bear in mind that Ajax have won the league title for the last three seasons in a row, and that in that time they have only lost 4 times at home. As well as this, think about Wilfried Bony for a moment. Swansea City's record summer signing (€14,000,000) was purchased from Vitesse after he plundered 31 goals in 30 league games in the 2012/13 Eredivisie.

And Bony is not the only notable personnel to depart the club, they also sold Marco van Ginkel to Chelsea for €9,400,000. All of this makes the rise of Vitesse increasingly impressive, instead of a severe set-back after losing Bony and Van Ginkel, the team from Arnhem have actually improved their status.

So what are the explanations for their new level? The success of last season had been achieved under manager Fred Rutten, but in the summer he failed to agree a contract extension and was quoted as saying-



There is no conflict between me and the owner. We exchange simple conversations, but it appears that our visions are far apart for the future of this club.”

This amounted to one of those separations between manager and owner where the actual truth is hard to ascertain. However, thus far, this cloud has had a silver lining because of the achievements of the new man in charge- Peter Bosz. The former Dutch international was previously in charge of Heracles Almelo and safely established them in mid-table of the Eredivisie over the last three seasons.

As for the Vitesse squad, they haven't invested any of their summer transfer income on new replacements, although they have brought in a couple of free signings and six new loan signings. In other words the club have gone with the risky route of replacing their former expensive players with the budget option, and yet now they find themselves atop of the league table.

When you look at where most of these signings have come from, the plot thickens, as there are a total of six loan imports from Chelsea alone. The players are- Sam Hutchinson, Cristián Cuevas, Lucas Piazón, Christian Atsu, Gaël Kakuta and Patrick van Aanholt. In fact the last two in that list are now in their 2nd full seasons on loan at Vitesse.

It turns out that the two clubs established a partnership back in 2010 because Merab Jordania is the chairman of the Arnhem club and also a good friend of.... Roman Abramovich. And so it all starts to drop into place! This situation hasn't been free from controversy though and NEC Nijmegen asked for it to be investigated back in September.

There have been further question marks over Jordania, (the new owner of Vitesse) Aleksandr Tsjigirinski and how their relationship with Abramovich may be enabling Chelsea to side-step British immigration law and FA work permit regulations. Having said that it isn't as if either club are doing anything technically wrong, it is more a case of finding and using the loop-holes that exist in the current system.

Still, none of this should take away from how well Vitesse are now doing themselves. At this stage they look to have the makings of their first ever title-winning team. Lucas Piazón is especially noteworthy, in 11 Eredivisie appearances thus far he has scored 5 goals, he's only 19 and the Brazilian will surely be a desirable forward option for Chelsea in the near future.

Justifiable doubts remain as to how close Vitesse can really get to winning the Eredivisie this season, after 13 fixtures there are still only 5 points separating them from PSV down in eighth place. Regardless of the potential triumphs of Vitesse, you can be very sure that Chelsea and José Mourinho will be watching them with a very keen eye from now on.


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