Reading continued their summer transfer business on Tuesday in unexpected fashion with the addition of Darren Sidoel from Dutch giants Ajax. To get some more in-depth information about him, we spoke to some experts on the man himself: @ikbensjimmie (who previewed the Pelle Clement signing for us) and @JelmerJager and the team at Ajax Youth Academy. Our big thanks to all of them.
What kind of player is he? Do any player comparisons come to mind?
Jimmy: He is a versatile player who can play as a CB and as a fullback, but he is not a specialist. He reminds me a bit of Joel Veltman of Ajax.
Ajax YA: Darren Sidoel is not very tall for a defender. He is an aggressive player who is strong in aerial challenges, hard-working and decent on the ball when it comes to passing and vision.
A comparable player has been asked for a few times, but that is quite difficult since it isn’t easy to predict how he will end up. If I had to pick someone he reminds me of, it would probably be Kenny Tete.
In his academy years, he has often played as centre back as well as right back. His primary position at Olympique Lyonnais has been right back. However, it has to be said that they are different and that they aren’t that similar. Tete is probably the better defender out of the two, while Sidoel has more potential on the ball. They are mostly similar in their aggression and style of play.
What’s his best position?
Jimmy: I think he is still a better CB, but I think because of lack of height he will be a fullback.
Ajax YA: Darren’s primary position is centre back, in spite of his height. He started the first three matches in the U21’s last season, in which he scored a great goal. He played 16 games total for the U21’s.
In the Ajax system, he fit the role as a centre back because of the tasks that Ajax defenders have in build-up play. English football will require a more physical centre back, which makes a place at right back more likely.
What are his main strengths?
Jimmy: He is calm at the ball and his positioning is good.
Ajax YA: Sidoel is strong in reading the play and dribbling the ball. He is an aggressive recoverer of the ball. His pace and his strength in challenges made up for his lack in height and proved to be useful when stopping attacks.
His positioning is decent and his vision is good as well. He will always be looking for options further up the field, which means he will not pass backwards or sideways all the time.
Any major weaknesses?
Jimmy: He lacks the strength and height to cope with the Championship strikers if he went on to play as a CB. And he had some really unfortunate injuries (broken leg, ruptured Achilles) which set his skill back.
Ajax YA: We are very curious about how he will manage himself in a physically strong league. English football might pose a challenge on a player who is used to Dutch football and lacks height.
His first professional season wasn’t flawless, he often showed what looked like a loss of concentration.
Are you sad to see him leave Ajax?
Jimmy: Not really, because he had no real future at Ajax. We have enough CB’s with the addition of Daley Blind.
Ajax YA: Darren joined Ajax in 2014 from ADO Den Haag. At the beginning of the 2015-16 season he broke his tibia. When he had fully recovered and was able to make some minutes again, he tore his Achilles tendon. It was a few weeks after his first serious injury and this one took him out for more than one year (August 2015 – March 2016 and March 2016 – October 2016). Other talents got their chances.
In his first season for Ajax U21, he did quite well. Ajax didn’t had really a plan with him and for him it’s good to make the next step in his career after his contract has expired. With his vision, passing, ball handling and positioning he could have been a good Ajax player, or at least a player who fits in the Ajax style. Some way it surprised us that Ajax didn’t extend his contract.
Do you think he’s ready for the Championship?
Jimmy: I think it might work out for him if Reading will play him as a full-back, but don’t expect an immediate impact from him. Without his injuries he would have been better obviously.
If he can cope with the physical aspect of the league then he will succeed, but that’s a big if.
Ajax YA: When it comes to his passing, his ball handling and his vision: yes! We are curious how he will play against big, tall and strong opponents and in another league with different ways of playing.