Thursday, April 22, 2010

Atiba Hutchinson to PSV

The biggest transfer news of 2010 involving a Canadian international has Atiba Hutchinson moving to PSV after the end of his season with FC Copenhagen.

I can't tell you how excited I am about the news. For one, he's moving to the Eredivisie, a league I already follow, and will playing for the Eindhoven side, a team I don't quite hate.

I also think this is a significant step up professionally, something he managed to avoid a few years back by turning down a transfer move to Russia.

But first, the coach's thoughts:
De speler was trainer Fred Rutten meteen opgevallen toen die de Deense club vorig jaar als tegenstander in de Europa League ging bekijken. Hij prees Hutchinson als een multifunctionele voetballer, met zowel aanvallende als verdedigende kwaliteiten. De Noord-Amerikaan is groot en fysiek sterk. Qua postuur doet hij volgens Rutten denken aan Orlando Engelaar.
The player caught coach Fred Rutten's eye when the Danish side was an opponent of PSV in the Europa league. He tabs Hutchinson as a multifunctional player, with offensive and defensive qualities. The North American is big and physically strong. He reminds Rutten of [Dutch international and PSV midfielder] Orlando Engelaar.
I won't quibble with most of what Rutten has to say about our boy Atiba, but I'd be more inclined to call Hutchinson tall, rather than big and strong. The Engelaar comparison is a good illustration of this. Orlando is 1.96 m (6 ft 5) and 90 kg (198 lbs), while Atiba is a mere 9 cm shorter at 1.87 m (6 ft 2), but a full 18 kg lighter at 72 kg (158 lbs). No matter how you slice it, if you're over 6 feet and under 160 lbs, you're not a big guy.

But I digress.

The move is good for a number of reasons. For one, Hutchinson will be exposed to a higher level of competition weekly in the Eredivisie. The Dutch top flight ranks 10th in the UEFA coefficient, which is lower than its been in some time. The Danish league, where Hutch has been playing, is riding high but still only at 15th.

European play is another bonus. PSV are consistently in Europe, and are ranked the 22nd best squad in European play over the last 5 season (FCK, Atiba's old club, are 60th). While PSV won't qualify for Champions League in 2010/11, and FCK are well placed to do so, PSV are always a greater probability to have a long run in these competitions.

All in all, it can't be seen as anything but a major step up which couldn't come at a better time for the 27-year old. If he gets playing time, it would be hard to argue that there is a Canadian playing an important role for a more important club. And it's exactly what Canada needs.

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