Considered by some as a natural replacement for Jaap Stam, 22-year-old Bruno Martins Indi certainly has big shoes to fill. His performances for Feyenoord this season has earned him a World Cup call up and demonstrates the potential of this young yet very mature center half. His performances over the past couple of seasons for both club and country have caught the eye of several top European clubs including Manchester United, who are considering him as a potential replacement for Vidic.
1. Career history
Although he was born in Portugal, Bruno Martins Indi moved to the Netherlands when he was just three months old. Having grown up in Rotterdam, he promptly signed for Feyenoord’s academy, from which he graduated in 2010. He made his debut for the club in August 2010 in the Europa League, three days before making his League debut.
In the four seasons since then Martins Indi has made over 100 League appearances for Feyenoord, whilst continually improving his trade. Since making his debut, he was eligible to play for both Portugal and Netherlands. Martins Indi chose the Oranje and since played in the Dutch U17s, U19s and U21s before making his senior debut against Belgium in 2012. Since then, he has gone onto garner 12 more caps in which he has scored two goals.
2. Style of Play
Primarily employed as a center back, Martins Indi can also play as a left back when required. Although he is just 5’11, his aerial ability is one of his biggest strengths. His pace, strength and composure means that he is one of the few natural born defenders in the Dutch World Cup squad who is extremely adept at defending.
Not only is he Strong in the air, like most Dutch players he is also adept in possession and is more than capable of playing out from the back. His aerial ability means that he carries a goal threat every time he is in the opposition penalty area and his goal against ADO Den Haag is a testament to that. When playing as a left back, his awareness of space and his ability to anticipate where players will be, is something that bodes well for his future as both a center half and a full back.
Bruno Martins’ biggest strength is his ability to read the game. Although he is still only 22, anybody who has seen him play will tell you that he reads the game like a veteran. Although he doesn’t always fly into tackles, his ability to intercept key passes is a vital asset in his arsenal and one that is made easier by his reading of the game.
The archetypal ball-carrying center half, Bruno Martins has the passing ability to play as a defensive midfielder and left back, if the situation arises and his versatility is one of the main reasons he was nicknamed “The Utility man”. A natural defender, he is solid at the back and his over-my-dead-body mentality bodes well for a future in a more demanding physical environment. Whether it is marking his man, clearing loose balls, tackling the onrushing striker or being a commanding presence in the center of defense, Bruno Martins can do it all with great élan.
Amidst the many good things in his play, there are a couple of things that the Dutchman should look to correct. Whilst he is more than capable of marshaling the back line, sometimes he can be caught too far forward and lacks a little bit of positional discipline. Although it is due to his constant shuffling between center half and full back, it is something the Dutchman needs to look at, even if his pace means that more often than not, he gets back in time before anything major happens. Another thing is his crossing ability, which needs some work if he is to fashion himself a career at full back.
5. Possible destinations
With Van Gaal set to be appointed soon, the Dutch connection means that Manchester United have emerged as strong favorites to sign the 22-year-old Dutch center back. Having previously been linked with Liverpool,and Everton, it seems fairly certain that the Dutchman will wind up at the Premier League next season. Should he have a good World Cup, his price will only skyrocket and many more clubs will want this talented youngster in their ranks.
With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic leaving Manchester United, a wealth of experience goes along with. Although the Dutch center back doesn’t have the necessary experience to slot right in, he has all the makings of a top-class center half and if paired with an experienced defender like Mats Hummels, who has also been linked with the Red Devils, he could form a devastating defensive partnership.
Unlike most young center backs, the 22-year-old is more than capable of blending steel and bite in defense with the ability to marshal his troops. Not only that, his ability to even play as a left back adds to his versatility and is sure to make him a more rounded defender. All of which bode well for a great future for the prodigiously talented Bruno Martins Indi, wherever he goes.