Position: Left Back/Centre Back
Date of Birth: August 29th 1990
Place of Birth: Den Bosch, Netherlands
Previous Club(s): PSV Eindhoven
At PSV, Patrick van Aanholt was considered to be in the top three prospects in the entire country for his age group. With Chelsea’s increasing Dutch influence at decision-making levels, this wasn’t to pass them by, and after Patrick’s performances for Holland at the 2007 European Under 17 Championships, a deal was arranged with PSV to bring the young defender over as the equivalent of a second year scholar.
First impressions of him was that he was incredibly versatile. Able to line up at left-back, centre-back, or a number of midfield roles, he took part in Under 18 pre-season games but seamlessly slotted into the left-back slot in the Reserve team come the season start. His natural and preferred position is as a centre-back, and he was used there in the run to the FA Youth Cup Final alongside fellow Dutchman Jeffrey Bruma.
In either position, he had a wonderful first year in England. He announced himself in some style, scoring a stunning 30 yard strike against Derby in September, before signing professional terms only two months into his Chelsea career. He is a very typical Dutch footballer – he never wastes the ball, has great touch and vision, and can seemingly play anywhere without much of a problem.
As with most Chelsea players, he’s also very gifted athletically – strong and quick, allowing him to be a marauding left-back or a strong and dominant centre-back. At left-back he has quite some competition to make it to first team level, but he’s arguably already moved ahead of Ryan Bertrand, leaving very interesting decisions to be made about one of Chelsea’s best young acquisitions of recent years.
Injury meant the start to Patrick’s second year in England was disrupted. One occured at the club, the other whilst on international duty for the Dutch Under-19 team. When he was playing, he was his usual dependable self, and once back to full fitness, his return coincided with the arrival of fellow national Guus Hiddink in the Chelsea hot seat. As if to impress, van Aanholt went on a tear for the Reserves, scoring twice and making an impact at the other end of the field from left back, before slotting into centre-back in following matches. His best form coming at the end of the season is a positive sign.