Birmingham City opinion: Dan Crowley is a terrific addition for the Blues
The 21-year-old midfielder becomes the Blues second signing of the summer following a permanent deal for Aston Villa loanee Garry Gardner and caretaker manager Pep Clotet’s first signing since he took over the reins from Garry Monk last month.
BBC understands that Crowley has signed an initial two-year deal at St. Andrew’s with the option of a further year, which should keep him at the club until the summer of 2022.
Birmingham City finished 17th in the Championship the last term but the Blues will be looking to make a surge for the playoffs in the upcoming campaign.
They have already made a lot of profit in the transfer market with the sale of star attackers Jota and Che Adams to Aston Villa and Southampton respectively but the deal for Crowley should help them cope with the losses.
Despite signing a professional contract with the Gunners in 2014 and putting in some strong performances for the club’s U-18 and U-21 sides, Crowley found it hard to break into the first-team due to stiff competition for places.
The midfielder had back-to-back loan spells in League One with Barnsley and Oxford United before moving across the continent to join Eredivisie outfit Go Ahead Eagles on loan in January 2017.
His stint at Go Ahead Eagles in the Dutch top-flight proved to be a fruitful one and Crowley gave up his Arsenal dream to sign a permanent deal with Willem II in the summer of 2017.
The 21-year-old initially struggled to establish himself as a regular starter at his new club and was shipped out on loan to SC Cambuur in the second-tier for the second half of the 2017-18 season.
However, he was drafted back into the side ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and the creative midfielder repaid his team’s faith with some top-drawer performances over the course o this past season.
Crowley accumulated 6 goals and 11 assists in 40 appearances for Willem II in all competitions last season and was one of the cornerstones of the club’s incredible run to the finals of the Dutch Cup, where they eventually lost out to Champions League semi-finalists and Eredivisie champions Ajax. Nevertheless, the 21-year-old did enough to earn plenty of plaudits from fans and pundits alike.
Essentially a central attacking midfielder by trade, Crowley is also capable of operating on the left and right sides of the midfield and also in a withdrawn No.8 role.
A technically-gifted playmaker with an intricate first touch and the innate ability to create his own space in the midfield, Crowley is not only an exceptional dribbler and a fluent passer of the ball but he is also more than capable of breaking the opposition’s lines with his creativity and vision.
His average of 2.3 dribbles and 1.7 key passes per game last season along with a pass accuracy rate of 84.9 certainly lies testimony to his well-rounded abilities as an attacking midfielder.
To put things into perspective, it is not difficult to see why Birmingham City have done themselves a world of good by bringing Daniel Crowley back to England.
While this move is likely to provide the 21-year-old with a golden chance to launch his career in English football, the Blues have every reason to look at him as their main creative outlet in the midfield next season in the absence of Jota.
Crowley is not really an out-and-out replacement for Jota but he has the creativity in his locker to fill in the void left by the Spaniard’s departure to Villa earlier this summer.
Considered as a quality player with loads of potential, Crowley is still only 21 and has plenty of time to develop and evolve into a really fine playmaker in English football.
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Now that he is back in England, the 21-year-old is likely to have a better chance of being a part of the international set-up as well, so it is easy to see that this move has worked in the best interests of all parties involved.
Nevertheless, the fans at St. Andrew’s have every reason to expect big things from their new signing in the near future.