Richard Barrett speaks about one of the summer’s top transfer targets, Vitesse Arnhem’s Wilfried Bony.
Wilfried Bony is not exactly a name that strikes fear into centre-backs throughout Europe. The 24-year-old from the Ivory Coast was relatively unknown just twelve months ago, but has exploded onto the scene with his performances in this year’s Eredivisie.
Wilfried Guemiand Bony began playing football on the streets of Abidjan as a youngster growing up in the Ivory Coast. From an early age, it was clear that the burly youngster possessed two frightening attributes; pace and power.
Bony started playing club football in the domestic league of the Ivory Coast and began to raise eyebrows with his undoubted potential. As well as his powerful pace, the boy could finish. This brought him to the attention of Merseyside giants Liverpool who, with Rafa Benitez at the helm,wanted to witness the Ivorian first-hand.
Bony failed to make a large impression during his trial at the club in 2007, and moved to Sparta Prague on an initial loan deal. The youngster’s undoubted potential came to the fore while playing for Sparta’s reserve side and they quickly signed him to a permanent deal.
Bony, who had just turned nineteen, made an instant impact and went on to score 22 goals in 59 games for the Czech giants. His goals over the next couple of seasons helped Sparta to the domestic title and also a cup triumph (2010). The country became fixated on this powerful youngster from the Ivory Coast who possessed both strength and composure, something that was usually alien to a footballer of such a young age.
Vitesse Arnhem from the Dutch Eredivisie came knocking during the 2011 January transfer window, and a new chapter in Bony’s promising career was about to unfold.
Bony was an unknown quantity to many of the Vitesse faithful, but he started his career in the best possible fashion with a début goal. This goal signalled the arrival of a new attacking threat that would soon terrorise defences throughout the Netherlands.
Bony hit the net twelve times during his first full season with Vitesse. A new star had arrived at FC Hollywood aan de Rijn (FC Hollywood on the Rhine) and he was about to play a leading role in a script that would send shock-waves throughout the Eredivisie.
Bony started the 2012-13 season in devastating fashion, first scoring an equaliser against ADO Den Haag, and then scoring a last-gasp winner against Feyenoord. Like an Australian bush fire, Bony would travel throughout the country scorching everything in his path.
Despite scoring a hattrick in the 3-3 draw with Heerenveen, it was Bony’s appearance at the Amsterdam Arena that proved the Ivorian could cut it against the big boys.
Bony played superbly, bagging a brace and leading Vitesse to their first win away at Ajax since 2001. Bony’s first goal was a thing of real beauty. Following a long clearance from the Vitesse goalkeeper, Bony expertly controlled the ball with his chest before laying it off. He then continued his run towards the edge of the box, knowing that the ball would eventually fall at his feet. There was only one outcome.
Bony’s second goal was also beautifully taken. Breaking from the halfway line, Bony decided to feed the ball out wide and make a burst into the box. Once the ball was crossed in, Bony did what he does best; 2-0 Vitesse.
An aspect of Bony’s game that is particularly endearing is his ability to bring other players into the game. While most strikers take a shot when given an inch, Bony continuously chooses the correct decision. If that means playing the ball out wide, or taking it on himself, you can rest assured that the ‘African Hulk’ will do what’s best for the team.
Dutch legend and current Heerenveen manager Marco Van Basten was full of praise for the striker:
“An excellent player. A very clever player too, both with and without the ball.”
Bony’s build, power, and overall play has drawn comparison with his compatriot Didier Drogba. However, this writer feels that Bony has the potential to become even better than Drogba.
Bony is still just 24-years-old and continues to improve with every game. He is undoubtedly the Eredivisie’s most potent striker, substantiated by a period in this season where he amassed a whopping 15 goals in just 10 games.
At present, Bony has 31 goals in 28 Eredivisie games, a frightening amount.
Despite being contracted until 2015, it appears that Bony’s time at Vitesse is coming to an end. Although the Dutch club will no doubt receive a good sum of money for their talismanic striker, it will be very difficult to fill the gap left by the fan-favourite.
Aston Villa reportedly bid €8 million for the frontman during the summer, but were quickly rebuffed. Expect Bony’s value to continue to soar this summer and expect Vitesse to reject all offers of €18 million and under.
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool have made their interest in the striker very public. After rejecting the Ivorian as a youngster, it’s clear that Brendan Rodgers does not want the club to miss out on him for a second time.
However, as Bony’s star continues to rise, more and more European clubs have declared their interest in the goal-machine. Just this week, Bony spoke of his fondness for the EPL:
‘If I go to England, that would be perfect because of the competition, atmosphere, though Germany and France also appeal”
Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have all been linked with a move for the ‘Muscled Magician’.
There are rarely certainties in football. However, the case of Wilfried Bony seems to be the exception. Bony will leave Vitesse Arnhem and Bony will continue to score goals. Remember the name.
Sport Is Everything. Richard Barrett.
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