The newest member of the Werder Bremen squad is Netherlands international midfielder Davy Klaassen. A ready-made replacement for Thomas Delaney, the Ajax youth product believes that he and the team are a match made in heaven.
"The move to Werder suits me,” Klaassen told the Bremen club website. “I would say I’m a typical box-to-box midfielder who is able to score goals. I work hard and I am very focused on my football. I think that is my main strength.”
It’s a strength that is also endorsed by the club he has signed for, with coach Florian Kohfeldt and sporting director Frank Baumann adding to the buzz around his transfer by admitting that Klaassen was the Green-Whites’ dream target.
“After Delaney's departure, Davy was our dream replacement,” Baumann said, while Kohfeldt added that “he’s good at finding space and is able to score goals. He can control the pace of a game and will be a focal point of our team. He has a lot of experience for a young player.”
And it was Bremen’s young coach, in particular, who convinced the Dutchman to come to the Bundesliga.
"The most important factors behind my decision was the club’s ambition and the way the coach wants the team to play,” Klaassen told the club’s website. “I spoke to Kohfeldt in Manchester and he was so enthusiastic about the club’s goals. He explained how he wants the team to play and what role I will play in that. Simply, we want to play better, attractive and attacking football. And win, of course (laughs).”
Having left Everton and the English Premier League with only seven appearances to his name, many would be quick to judge that Klaassen joins Werder on the back of a year he’d rather forget. But the 25-year-old doesn’t see his time on Merseyside quite the same way.
"It wasn’t a positive year for me,” Klaassen explained. "I want to make more appearances than that, but I did have a great time with my teammates and the staff at Everton. Despite that, I want to be playing week in week out and prove my abilities as a footballer. I hope I can do that here at Werder.”
With big shoes to fill after Delaney’s move to Borussia Dortmund this summer, Klaassen will be thrown into the thick of things during the final weeks of Bremen’s pre-season preparations. Werder finished in mid-table last season, but their new midfield dynamo is confident of an improved showing in 2018/19.
“I think we can finish higher than eleventh this season,” Klaassen admitted. “I want to play as much football as possible. The move to Werder is no step back.”
When discussing the essential attributes of a central midfielder, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff spoke of needing “strong positioning, ability to control the ball at speed and technique to deal with the speed of it.” All these things, Cruyff said, could be found in Xavi, Toni Kroos, and none other than Klaassen.
Speaking in 2014, two years before he passed away, Cruyff praised the then Ajax star, who controlled the Dutch giants’ midfield. It’s something that Klaassen will now look to do at Bremen, in the Bundesliga.