Teun Koopmeiners, who is he and who should be chasing his signature?
Teun Koopmeiners is a rare breed of player, in many ways he is the ultimate box -to-box midfielder. He is the jewel in the crown of the current AZ Alkmaar team , which is some feat in itself considering AZ have a remarkable crop of talent in their current squad boasting Myron Boadu, Calvin Stengs and Owen Wijndal- all fellow players who look destined for big moves at some point in the near future. Koopmeiners is the captain of this exciting side who last season were firmly in contention to win just their 3rd ever Eredivisie title, thus ensuring champions league football. AZ were level with Ajax on 56 points with 9 games still to play before the Dutch FA decided to make the 2019/20 season null and void as a result of Covid-19. In that season Koopmeiners put up an impressive 14 goals and 3 assists in the Europa League and Eredivisie, and he has already bettered that this season with an eye catching 16 goals and 7 assists already this season- Numbers that many forwards would be more than happy to put up.
Who Is Teun Koopmeiners?
Koopmeiners is an imposing Central midfielder who can seemingly do it all based on his performances, particularly this season. He breaks up the play well in the centre of the pitch, is productive at the back helping out in his own box and is a solid creator as well as being a serious goal threat in the opponent’s half. Furthermore, Koopmeiners is also technically brilliant being a danger from the penalty spot and when standing over free kicks. Koopmeiners has a range of skills in his armoury which many other midfielders would be envious of.
Koopmeiners came through the AZ youth academy, and after helping AZ’s reserve side Jong AZ to the Dutch Third Division title in 2017, he was handed his first team debut the following season. AZ qualified for the Europa league that season, finishing 3rd and with Koopmeiners getting 31 senior appearances under his belt in his debut campaign with the first team. It was in the 2018-19 where Koopmeiners rise and upwards trajectory really started. AZ finished 4th behind giants Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord but disappointingly crashed out of Europe in the qualifying round to Kazakhstani outfit FC Kairat. Despite a relatively underwhelming season for the squad Koopmeiners kicked on and grabbed 8 goals and an assist from 32 appearances. 2019/20 was the best season in recent memory for AZ with the side beating prior seasons champions league semi-finalists Ajax home and away and really pushing them for the title, only trailing them on goal difference before the season’s abandonment. The side also faired much better in Europe, even holding Manchester United to a 0-0 draw before being knockout out by Austrian underdogs LASK. Koopmeiners featured 44 times in all competitions in 2019/20 and scored an impressive 16 goals as well as adding 3 assists to his name.
So far this season the title seems out of reach for AZ, currently trailing Ajax by 11 points, but they are level on points with PSV which would help them achieve a respectable 2nd place finish for the 2nd year running. Koopmeiners has taken his game to another level this season, 20 combined goals and assists is an absurdly good output for a box-to-box midfielder even if you consider arguments about the dwindling quality of the Eredivisie. Koopmeiners is now capped by the Netherlands, in a national side not short of quality in midfield and now looks certain to be on the end of a big move this summer.
Koopmeiners wonder goal against PSV earlier this season
The Numbers behind Koopmeiners’ performances
Firstly, if we look at Koopmeiners offensive game he averages 1.1 key passes a game and gets of 1.7 shots per game. Bayern Munich star Leon Goretzka who plays a much more advanced role than Koopmeiners at times and plays for the most dominant side in the Bundesliga, averages 1.8 shots a game and only contributes 1 key pass a game. Looking at Koopmeiners passing as a whole he averages 72 passes a game and has an 85% completion rate, while also attempting 5.4 Long balls a game in the Eredivisie. Ajax star boy and Dutch national side teammate Ryan Gravenberch, averages 2.4 long balls while only averaging 1 less pass a game and having a marginally better pass completion rate. Going back to his offensive quality Koopmeiners scores 0.18 goals per shot he takes (he has taken 45 shots), this is a much better conversion rate than established forwards such as Richarlison and Jamie Vardy, who this season have a combined goals per shots taken of 0.20. Attack wise Koopmeiners has a lot of quality and to further highlight the extent of his goal threat the midfielder is able from set pieces, converting 7 penalties and scoring a handful of free-kicks in his career in addition to being an aerial threat, standing at 6’1.
Defensively Koopmeiners is equally as polished. Compared to midfielders from Europe’s top 5 leagues he is in the top 1% of for the number of clearances made per match, in addition to a sound 1.83 blocks per 90 minutes from midfield. Koopmeiners also makes 1.3 interceptions per game. For comparison Koopmeiners makes more clearances than Wilfred Ndidi, and more blocks and interceptions than Thomas Partey. This demonstrates that Koopmeiners has the ability to play in the premier leagues he has sound enough defensive capabilities while also clearly possessing a lot of attacking prowess.
Where could Koopmeiners move to?
Koopmeiners certainly won’t be short of clubs after him, being 23 a Netherlands international and having 3 impressive seasons in the Eredivisie, and at times in Europe, under his belt. Due to the relative lack of funding and therefore lower competitiveness of the Eredivisie it can be seen as a bit of a hit and miss league for top clubs to purchase from. For every Luis Suarez who puts up good numbers in the league and then goes on to excel elsewhere, there seems to be a Vincent Janssen who looks great as well but then but flops outside of Dutch football and struggles to adapt. In Koopmeiners case he’s a relatively safe buy as he wouldn’t command a massive fee, being valued at around £15 million, and the stigma towards Eredivisie players is being poor abroad , often only applies to wingers and forwards, while Koopmeiners plays in a specialist position as a box-to-box midfielder with skills applicable to the styles of many different top leagues.
Hypothetical transfers that I believe would fit Koopmeiners well include being a dynamic midfielder at Bielsa’s Leeds, a potential readymade Milinkovic-Savic replacement at Lazio or as another option with different attributes over Delaney or Dahoud at Borussia Dortmund. Alternatively, perhaps he could be tasked with being the main man in midfield at a weaker side such as Crystal Palace or Wolves, to spice up their at times stagnant midfields , and prove himself in a top league before making the next step to a club in the Champions League or at least a club fighting for a Champions League spot on a regular basis.
Koopmeiners joins a long list of talents to burst on to the scene from the Eredivisie. After 3 years notable years playing in Holland it now seems the time is right for him to move on to a more competitive league and, kick on as an elite midfielder with a view for securing himself as a mainstay in the Dutch national team midfield for years to come.
Sources for statistics- WhoScored.com, Transfermarkt.com, FBref.com
Written by- Joe Langlands
LinkedIn- Joe Langlands