New and improved Serero set to be key man at new Dutch club
Thulani Serero is shaping up to be the key man at new Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem this season‚ which can only be good for national team coach Stuart Baxter with one eye on the remainder of the World Cup qualifiers later this year.
A fit and firing Serero would be a true national asset‚ and after a 2016/17 campaign when he was not even registered by former club Ajax Amsterdam‚ the wheel is turning in his favour.
He has joined a club where he will not just play‚ but be the key link in the midfield between the defence and attack‚ given the responsibility that comes with the playmaking role.
"Serero is a controlling player and good in possession. He has the potential to make the game‚" Vitesse coach Henk Fraser told Dutch publication Omroep Gelderland.
Serero says he is looking forward to the challenge after so long on the sidelines.
"I want to be on the ball‚” he says.
“I also see myself as a leader. I understand that Fraser wants the play to go through me and I feel comfortable with that. But in the end‚ we have to play football as a team and win as a team. "
Serero also suggest that the difference between the level at Ajax and Vitesse is not that great and that both teams have a similar mind-set‚ to play attacking football.
"Both clubs want to play attacking football and the difference really is not as big as people think. It is mainly about the mentality of players."
Serero will also be a key man for Vitesse when they play in the UEFA Europa League this season‚ having starred for Ajax in the Champions League‚ including scoring against Barcelona.
Vitesse will enter at the group stage of the competition and Serero feels they should not be overawed by whoever they get.
"You do not necessarily need European experience to survive in Europe. It's all about believing … believing that you can win. If you do step on the field‚ everyone has the same faith‚ not thinking‚ oh no‚ this is a great team‚ it is difficult to win here. If we all have the same faith‚ anything is possible.”
Serero also has some lofty goals for the team in the coming campaign‚ including bettering their fifth-place finish in the Eredivisie last season.
"We should finish higher in the league than last year. I also want to survive the group stages [of the Europa League]‚ win the [pre-season] Johan Cruyff Shield again [against league champions Feyenoord] and win the Dutch Cup. Each one is a goal. And yes‚ they can be reached with Vitesse."
Serero was also left distraught by the recent severe brain damage suffered by former Ajax teammate Abdelhak Nouri after his heart reportedly stopped during a pre-season clash with German side Werder Bremen.
"I am very shocked by the news. He is a very good friend of mine. He was one of the first who wished me luck when I moved to Vitesse‚" Serero said.