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Giant centre-half Joost van Aken has joined Sheffield Wednesday for an undisclosed fee. Clubs in places as far reaching as Italy and Turkey showed serious interest in the former Heerenveen man, though with England his ideal destination, the 23-year-old has opted for the Championship and a move to the Owls.
Van Aken is a product of Heerenveen’s youth system in the Netherlands and made his debut for the first team there back in 2013. The tall, left-footed centre-back ended up making 90 appearances for the Dutch side and scored three goals in the process. Unsurprisingly for a man of his height, van Aken’s main strength is in the air, though he is notably comfortable on the ball as well.
Pleasantly surprising for the modern game, he has been wished well by the chief of his former club and has been told that the “Championship has been awarded to him”. Very gracious comments indeed. For his part, van Aken has spoken about how he has been treated well by Heerenveen and is looking forward to his new challenge.
Van Aken has signed a four-year deal at Hillsborough and has been given the No.4 shirt. He will train with most of his new teammates this week ahead of the international break, and may make his debut for Wednesday against Nottingham Forest next Saturday.
Up until now, the Owls have been short of depth at centre-back and the situation has been left unresolved for quite some time. Now that Glenn Loovens is struggling with injury and Frederico Venancio’s international clearance is taking longer to arrive than anticipated, Daniel Pudil has been played out of position in the centre and had to partner last man standing, Tom Lees for the last four matches.
The big defender’s arrival from the Netherlands though now means that Wednesday have four recognised centre-backs on the books and so once they are all fit and available, their promotion challenge can truly start in earnest.
Given the amount of money flying around not just up in the Premier League right now but also at the top end of the Championship, the fee that Wednesday have forked out for van Aken (obviously, he wouldn’t have cost £20million, would he?) looks like small potatoes and especially for a player of this ability.
He has been capped at under-21 level by his country and is very much seen as a player on the up. A canny signing indeed.