Wulfert Cornelius Marco Van Ginkel was supposed to be the prince of Dutch football, a typical Dutch midfielder, technically gifted with a high footballing IQ. The player who could pick out a pass and had the added advantage of having a bulky upper body.
He made his debut aged just 17 for Vitesse in April 2010. It was about this time when Chelsea’s arrangement with the Arnhem side was flourishing. Despite interest from Ajax, the logical stepping stone for most of the talents in the Eredivisie, with two years left on his contract, he moved to Chelsea for 8 million pounds in July 2013.
Expected to be the heir to the Frank Lampard’s midfield spot, box-to-box, like for like. Four games into his Chelsea career, in a capital one cup match against Swindon, Van Ginkel suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury that kept him out for about six months. All but killing his dream of appearing for Netherlands in the 2014 Brazil world cup despite the absence of his main competitor Kevin Strootman. He had earlier made his senior team debut in November 2012 after stints with the U19 and U21 sides.
With Mourinho having set his sights on winning the Premier League, Cesc Fabregas was brought in from Barcelona to be the obvious starter alongside Nemanja Matic in the midfield pivot where Van Ginkel plies his trade. The two, Obi Mikel, Ramires and Oscar were seen to be enough cover for those two midfield spots and Ginkel was allowed to join the stumbling red and black giants of Milan on a season-long loan deal.
LIFE IN MILAN
He was awarded the iconic number 21 jersey previously worn by Andrea Pirlo with Filippo Inzaghi expecting him to be an important cog in his midfield alongside skipper Montolivo and compatriot De Jong. In theory, Van Ginkel plays primarily as a central midfielder but has been known to play in a variety of positions, both as an attacking and defensive midfield player. He seemed perfect for this depleted Milan side. The curious thing is that he still does; only the way it has happened is ironic in itself.
Firstly, the fairy tale did not begin well. Van Ginkel’s stay at Milan was almost over even before it began. He was on the bench for the first six games of the season. Finally, he made his debut on the 23rd of September 2014, against Empoli only to get injured and was carried off the pitch on a stretcher with an ankle injury. A month later, he was fit but on the bench for six straight games without a single minute of action leading to his disappointed agent, Karel Jansen, saying:
“that we aren’t happy about MvG being benched is clear, it goes against all logic. Marco didn’t have to go to Italy if he wasn’t going to be used anyway. Milan agreed that a fit Van Ginkel would be given a fair chance to play his way into the Milan starting team.”
This led to suggestions that Marko Van Ginkel would go back to Chelsea in the January transfer window or be loaned out to another club. The relationship between Milan and Ginkel’s representatives took a turn for the worse when the Dutchman was injured in training by Sulley Muntari, a player vying for the same spot as he was.
Inzaghi was quick to point out that the challenge had been strong but not malicious. By January, the loan spell seemed like a dud, with Ginkel having made only half a dozen appearances in a half season and Ajax were reportedly keen to save Van Ginkel from his Italian nightmare but Van Ginkel spurned them again, according to the Amsterdam club’s manager Frank De Boer, determined to fight for his place:
“We asked Van Ginkel if he wanted to move because Davy Klaasen and Thulani Serero were not fit due to injuries, but he declined. So we had to go for Daley Sinkgraven right away.”
In a reversal of fortunes, Van Ginkel has now started five consecutive league matches, away at Fiorentina and Palermo and home to Cagliari, Inter and Sampdoria where he got his first assist of the season.
When he wheeled off in celebration, you could see the relief it brought. Here was a player who hoped of European football, and had been declined a place in a team that languished in the middle of the table more or less. He could have done better, and now he was. Confidence restored, fight-on.
He is proving to be the go-to guy alongside the less creative De Jong and Andrea Poli as seen in the distinguishable boring Milan derby last weekend. Recent performances have seen a U-turn in the 22 year Old’s fortune with Milan CEO Adriano Galliani saying that Ginkel is on the same level as the unplayable Strootman and just needs to play more often. As the season comes to an end, tongues have started wagging on where it is that Ginkel will be playing football next season, back at Chelsea? AC Milan? Another loan deal or will he be sold?
With Milan expecting Thai investors this week, Milan may even have the cash to purchase him come the madness that is the summer transfer window. The road leading to it will certainly decide the destination for Van Ginkel.
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Edited By: Ojas Tripathi