Talent Scout: Ola John, Twente 

 

For a country ranked so high in the footballing pyramid, talent from it's shores continues to represent remarkable value. We're talking about the Netherlands, the original home of total football, and mother land to some of European football's greatest ever players.

But while the national league, the Eredivisie, continues its consistent production line of exciting talent, the onlooking elite are becoming increasingly less patient in waiting for it to mature. Gone are the days when the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt and Ruud van Nistelrooy were given time to fully prove themselves before leaving, clubs are now heading straight to source.

The productive academies of Ajax, AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord are just some of those who have had their gems taken away in recent seasons, with foreign outfits taking advantage of contract law in the Netherlands, to secure prospects for nominal fees in their teenage years.

The decision to leave early may well prove to be the correct one for some, but the amount of unfulfilled Dutch potential rotting in reserve teams around the world is making many think twice. FC Twente 's Ola John was fiercely chased by Manchester United and Arsenal after just a handful of first-team appearances 18 months ago, but after snubbing their big money offers he has now developed into one of the Eredivisie 's best players.

John knows better than most the pitfalls of leaving for England too early, after his brother, Collins John, went to Fulham in 2004, after coming through the Twente system and making just 35 appearances. The transfer came too quickly, and despite some initial success, six clubs later, the now 26-year-old finds himself as a free agent.

Ola knows he now must choose his next career move wisely, having followed the same path. Born in Zwedru , Liberia, John moved to the Netherlands aged two, after his father was killed during a bloody civil war. He, like Collins and other brother Paddy, joined Twente 's academy setup to begin his football education.

He would go on to debut for the first-team in 2010, aged just 18, before Premier League sides Arsenal and then United attempted to wrestle him away three months later. They failed, John signed a new deal, and the rest is history. This term, he's cemented himself as a regular in the Twente lineup, after turning in a stunning cameo performance against Benfica in the Champions League qualifying round last June.

All that, and John is still only 19, with lots of raw qualities that mean he can be shaped into pretty much any type of forward. At home on either flank or down the middle, the Netherlands Under-21 international is very much a modern winger.

John's game is based around speed and skill, using his direct dribbling to isolate defenders, before delivering crosses, or cutting inside with real unpredictability. He's also genuinely two footed, so can hug the touchline or drift into the centre comfortably.

At just a touch under five foot 11 inches, and with a skinny but athletic physique, he's not much of a presence, but his decent height and good leap mean he can win flick-ons and also link the play well at times. However, while learning about that, as well as better positioning and full back covering is for the future, for now, just give the boy a ball and watch him work his magic - that's the secret to his success.

John's mix of blistering pace and determination is a difficult blend to deal with, but add to that an accurate and vast range of crossing techniques on either foot, and you have a winger with real end product. He does need to work on releasing the ball quicker, and putting more pace on the final delivery, but he's already racking up the assists.

The only real downsides comes in instinctive situations. John is an average finished when in front of goal, lacking composure and sometimes confidence in the box. When given time to think about a shot, he's scored some stunning efforts, but natural goal scoring isn't in his nature. He also struggles when choosing which skill to use to get him of situations, many times over complicating it and loosing possession.

However, with some more physical development and better coaching, he could very well be an option as a striker one day. In the meantime, John is having fun terrorising defenders out wide, and should he continue to keep developing in such a rapid manner, may well be handed an offer he can't refuse next time the Premier League comes calling.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions