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?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas