Last season a sleeping giant in Dutch football had something of a renaissance year. Feyenoord Rotterdam finished as runner-up in the Eredivisie, six points behind Ajax and one ahead of PSV Eindhoven, reassembling a party that has had to deal with its fair share of gate crashers in the form of AZ Alkmaar and FC Twente in the past few years.
For the Rotterdam club it was the first time they had finished in top two of Dutch football since 2001 and after finishing 10th the previous year, there lowest league position since 1977-78, it was a season of huge importance.
The club has struggled with finances, as have much of the Dutch league, in recent years and relied heavily on youth team players and loan signings. Such talents as Jordy Clasie, Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi came to the fore while the inspired loan deal of Ryo Miyaichi helped them kick off their season in style. But last season there was one name more regularly chanted at De Kuip than any other, John Guidetti.
On-loan from Manchester City the Swedish international knocked back 20 goals in 23 appearances in Holland and was carried on the shoulders by the Feyenoord faithful, like a royal prince, and the expectation was he would leave Etihad this summer at least temporarily to hunt for first-team football.
His life is an unusually absorbing tale; born to Italian and Brazilian ancestry and growing up for large parts of his life in Kenya it isn’t the typical bio of a future Sweden international. His tales of peculiarity continued with a bizarre injury toward the end of last season. A viral infection caused nerve damage to his right leg and he lost all feeling down into his striking foot. Euro 2012 was now out of the question and he only recently returned to training which meant a summer departure was out of the question.
His manager at Feyenoord Ronald Koeman believes he has the ability to become a better player than Sweden’s current talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic and while goalscoring duds such as Mateja Kezman and Afonso Alves have failed in the Premier League names such as Ruud Van Nistlerooy or Dennis Bergkamp have fared much better.
On Friday the 20-year-old agreed a new four-year-deal with the Premier League champions and considering his goalscoring pedigree and young age it could spell curtains for another striker at the club. Patience has worn thin with Mario Balotelli, despite the often macabre father-son like relationship he has with Roberto Mancini the emergence of John Guidetti could signal the catalyst to move on the 22-year-old Italian and give everybody at the club a slightly easier job.
What do you think, will John Guidetti become a City regular and could Balotelli be moved on as a consequence?