Sunderland boss Gus Poyet finally ended the search for a new left-back last week by snapping up Patrick van Aanholt from Chelsea. The 23-year-old arrives at the Stadium of Light on a four-year contract and is the Black Cats’ fourth signing of the summer, following Jordi Gomez, Billy Jones and Costel Pantilimon to the club:
After completing his move to Wearside, the Dutchman revealed he rejected other suitors in order to stay in the English top-flight and was quick to talk up his attacking intentions for the season ahead:
“I had a couple of offers from different countries but the Barclays Premier League is where I want to be, I want to show everybody what kind of player I am and what I am capable of doing. I am a left-back who likes to go forward and I like to take people on. I will also try to get some assists but I will do my defending first because that is where my role starts, it is all about helping the team and I think I will do a good job.”
After progressing through the Den Bosch and PSV Eindhoven youth systems over a period of four years, Van Aanholt was snapped up by Chelsea as a 17-year-old back in 2007. Despite a seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge, the Dutchman played just eight times for the Chelsea first-team (delivering a goal and assist) and was mainly farmed out on loan by the London club after failing to displace Ashley Cole in the starting XI.
Spells at Coventry (20 appearances, one assist), Newcastle (seven league outings), Leicester (12 games, one goal and one assist) and Wigan (four appearances) between 2009 and 2012 afforded Van Aanholt little opportunity to establish himself as a regular, though.
A temporary move to Vitesse Arnhem in January 2012 finally helped him settle down and, over the course of two-and-a-half seasons on loan at the Dutch club, he finally found his form. After serving up two goals and five assists in 46 appearances in his first 18 months, Van Aanholt’s attacking forays came to fruition last season, where he produced five goals and five assists in 38 matches over all competitions.
At international level, the raiding left-back has represented Holland at youth level on 26 occasions, scoring once, whilst he’s also turned out a couple of times for the senior side.
With the versatile Phil Bardsley and on-loan Marcos Alonso both departing the club over the summer, Van Aanholt looks set to be handed a regular role at left-back for the Black Cats in the season ahead.
Yet to be listed in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, a price of 4.5 seems likely, whilst a cost of just 4.4 in the Sky Sports game makes Van Aanholt one of the cheapest first-choice defenders around.
Analysing his stats from last term, the Dutchman’s attacking displays bode well – a total of 52 shots over 29 appearances equates to 1.8 attempts per game, whilst in terms of creativity, he averaged one key pass per league match. Bearing in mind that Alonso registered 1.6 shots and created 1.1 chances per match during his loan stint, the Dutchman looks a like-for-like replacement for the Fiorentina man.
In terms of defensive prospects, Poyet’s arrival clearly made a significant difference to Sunderland’s resilience. After conceding in every match under Paolo di Canio, the Wearsiders managed 11 shut-outs in the remaining 31 league fixtures (six at home and five on their travels) and, with their backline options so kindly priced, many Fantasy managers are eyeing up the Black Cats ahead of a schedule which pits them against West Brom, QPR, Burnley, Swansea and Stoke in the opening seven Gameweeks.
With an average of 4.9 points per game under Poyet, though, it’s difficult to look beyond Vito Mannone as the best value route amongst Sunderland’s defensive options. The Italian’s heroics between the posts have already earned him over 13% ownership in FPL – the sixth most popular keeper – though if Poyet decides to alternate Mannone with Pantilimon as his number one as the season unfolds, Fantasy faith in Van Aanholt may take a turn for the better.