Perhaps you know a lot about the Keuken Kampioen Divisioe or Dutch Eerste Divisie (2nd tier). Perhaps you don’t. What’s evident is that a few teams are dominating the league and will be up for possible promotion to the Eredivisie. Traditionally, this league has set up great Eredivisie-talent and groomed players for a higher level.
In this scouting report I will look at SC Cambuur’s Mees Hoedemaker, who plays the majority of his games as a defensive midfielder in a team that tops the league at the moment.
- Nationality: Dutch
- Age: 23
- Date of birth: 18/02/1998
- Current club: SC Cambuur
- Career: AZ Alkmaar (Y), AZ Alkmaar, SC Cambuur (L), AZ Alkmaar, SC Cambuur
- Position: Defensive midfielder
- Secondary position: Central midfielder
- Preferred foot: Right and left
- Contract until: 30/06/2022
SC Cambuur often plays in two different formations. Either the 4-3-3 formation with a deep-lying midfielder/defensive midfielder or a 4-1-4-1 formation. In those formations with a single defensive midfielder, Hoedemakers played there.
His task in possession was to hold the line high and give first coverage to the attacking midfielders in terms of transitioning to another phase of play, and to distribute passes to the more attacking players.
Hoedemakers plays as the defensive midfielder in three-man defence and played between the defence and the midfield.
His task out of possession was to drop down in order to assists the four-man defence and play just in front of it. The compact 4-1 defensive bloc would then effectively become a 5-man defence. In the defensive phase of the game, he would join the four-man defence – which effectively made it a 5-3-2 formation. He’s intelligent and stands 1.82 metres tall, able to defend in the air well. As soon as the opponent’s got the ball, he either pressed the ball or he man-marked his direct opponent.
He’s enthusiastic, but this also means that he makes fouls in trying to recover the ball. His positioning is good, but his awareness can be better. He often opted to give a long pass, when others were available close to him. He’s confident in his technical abilities and shows this when they attack.
In this data analysis I will look at the complete set of midfielders in the league. Why? Because the positions are not set in stone in this league and as a result, the players are fluid in their positions. Defensive midfielders will also play as central midfielders, central midfielders as attacking midfielders – you get the jist. I’ve selected a total of 83 midfielders across the league and I’ve barred one player, as he regularly plays for FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie, but has had a few minutes with the U23 team as he was recovering from an injury.
First, we will look at some defensive stats of Mees Hoedemakers. In the image below you can see the position adjusted stats for Interceptions per 90 and Sliding tackles per 90. In other words, how much does a certain player defensively engage an opponent in 90 minutes.
You can see that Hoedemakers has slightly aboe average when you look at the interceptions per 90, which means he does well in engaging in intercepting passes. In sliding tackles he doesn’t perform above average and you can read that in two different ways: he doesn’t like to tackle OR he doesn’t get himself in situation where he has to make a last minute attempt to recover the ball.
In his possession winning defensive duels is vital. He needs to cover for his attacking midfielders, but at the same time form the first line of defence before the back-four has to become involved. In the image above you can see that he ranks very high in the percentage of duels won:, and the amount of defensive duels he has per 90 minutes played.
The next data I will look at, is the passing data. How well does Hoedemakers do in this data compared to other defensive midfielders in the league. The reason why I opted for a comparison with defensive midfielders and not all midfielders, is that the defensive midfielders will not always choose to play a ball forwards more than an attacking midfielders would.
In the image below you can see the percentile ranks of Mees Hoedemakers compared to the 30 best defensive midfielders next to him.
He scores very high in the key passing metrics, as you can see above. Progressive passes is something he could work on – but everything apart from that is way above average and it’s no wonder that he is considered a player that needs to play in the Eredivisie or higher next season.
What I think is really good about his play is his defensive positioning. What I mean by this is how he reacts and moves when the ball is lost by SC Cambuur, and the transition phase from attack to defence sets in. To look into this further I’ve looked at a few situations in the game against Top Oss from February 16th.
In this situation he joins the attacking midfielders in passing forwards, but in the transition he has to trail back to assist his defence, which he does by positioning himself decent against his direct opponent and making sure there are no space unoccupied in the middle third of the pitch.
In the second half there was a similar situation: the ball was lost high in the middle third and Hoedemakers was up there as well. In order to neutralise the danger by Top Oss he had to do two things: trail back to the defensive third, just in front of the defence, and make sure that the attacking players of Top Oss wouldn’t be able to progress through the middle.
It’s worth to look at Mees Hoedemakers as a defensive midfielder with a good key passing quality. SC Cambuur are comfortably the best team in the league, but Hoedemakers impressed last season already and has continued his form. His mental strength has improved in the last season as he isn’t as ill-tempered as before and can deal with disappointments better. He is definitely fit for the Eredivisie or perhaps for a league in another country.
I will scout him further in a series of games to assess his full capability, but he has impressed me a lot.
Data and video from Wyscout
Telestration made with Keyframe Sports