“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
In Italy, after the end of AC Milan’s defensive dynasty, when Juventus looked to build an empire, gems like Leonardo Bonucci & Giorgio Chiellini enabled them to lay the foundation for a strong future. They built an empire so strong that nobody could rise up. But, as the duo of Bonucci & Chiellini waned, so did the stronghold. Today, Turin languishes in 7th place, a shadow of its former self. The defence no longer looks impenetrable. Many have lost hope, but in the distance, a bright light shines. A light so bright that it could alter Juventus’s downward spiraling course for the better. The light: Dean Huijsen.
Name: Dean Huijsen.
Position: Central Defender (LCB/RCB).
Preferred foot: Right.
Current Club: Juventus Next Gen.
STYLE OF PLAY
At 17, Dean has an abundance of quality but even at a young age few of his attributes have strongly stood out.
Mistakes are bred by nervousness. To thrive as a center-back it is imperative for the individual to be composed in the face of adversity. Luckily, Juventus’ youth prospect, Dean Huijsen, is the embodiment of composure.
On the ball, his composure has made him a press-resistant outlet in progression. In the build-up, the Dutchman is always seen looking to receive the ball and turn away from his man to carry the ball forward. His intimidating presence at 6’5’ enables him to shield off challenges and look for the appropriate pass. Even when pressured by multiple men, the 17-year-old refuses to lose the ball. He invites pressure until space to play a pass opens up.
Meanwhile, his composure off the ball has been commendable, too. Juventus’ next gen are constantly seen playing with a high backline which renders them vulnerable to fast breakaways. But, Dean’s excellent reading of the game allows him to neutralize these threats. The Dutchman calmy positions himself into zones to intercept passes. When he isn’t in line to intercept, he follows his man carefully and patiently waits for him to make a mistake. Many young defenders panic & dive into challenges but not Dean. He applies pressure and only dives into a tackle when necessary. This characteristic of Huijsen has also seen him become Juventus’ primary penalty-taker, where composure is requisite.
Perhaps, it’s the fact that he was born in Cruyff’s land but Dean’s passing ability is absolutely phenomenal for a central defender. The 17-year-old offers a wide variety of passes which has made the Serie C club much stronger. Against teams which press high, Dean looks to play grounded line-breaking passes to further play. His accuracy is quite impressive and he rarely misplaces a pass. Against teams which hold a midblock and tight shape, Dean is excellent at playing diagonal balls to disrupt the shape of the opposition. His diagonals whether at RCB or LCB always find their way to the wide winger on either side.
Another aspect which makes Dean unique is his ambidexterity. The Dutchman can distribute the ball equally well with his right or left foot, making him extremely potent in buildup.
At 6’5’, Dean Huijsen’s greatest trait is easily his ability to win aerial duels. An effortless target to pick out in the box for a corner, whenever the Dutchman is at the end of a cross, it usually finds its way to the back of the goal. Defensively too, it is virtually impossible to beat Dean in an aerial duel near the Juventus area. The Dutch international knows how to utilize his gift and has been instrumental to Juventus. Truly a striker’s worst nightmare.
AREAS TO IMPROVE
Despite his considerable quality, no player is ever complete. For all of Dean’s ability, an area the center back has lacked in is physicality. While his height enables him to be an imposing figure aerially, his lean build can pose as a threat. On numerous occasions, he has been overpowered by stronger opposition in ground duels. If the Dutchman is to take on the roughness of the Italian League, he will need to become stronger.
An excellent carrier of the ball, a wonderful distributer & an aerial safehouse, Dean Huijsen at 17 offers a multitude of qualities to serve any club well. With the appropriate development, the Dutchman will definitely become a top prospect in the coming years.