ISL – Who is Yoell van Nieff? Everything you need to know about Mumbai City FC’s new defensive midfielder


The departure of Ahmed Jahouh from Mumbai City FC to rejoin his former boss Sergio Lobera at Odisha FC left a massive dearth in the defensive midfield for the Islanders. Des Buckingham’s side, who are fresh off a recording-breaking campaign as they lifted the ISL League Winner’s Shield, made no delay in securing the services of talented 30-year-old Dutch midfielder Yoell van Nieff on a two-year deal.

In this article, we will look at van Nieff’s history and try to shed some light on what the Islanders can expect from their new anchor in the middle of the field.

Who is Yoell van Nieff?

With an impressive track record in both youth and senior football, van Nieff brings a wealth of experience and skill to the club.

Having represented the Netherlands in the under-17 and under-18 teams on eight occasions, Van Nieff’s early promise was evident during his time at SC Cambuur. However, it was his move to his beloved hometown club, FC Groningen, that marked a turning point in his career. After graduating through Groningen’s esteemed academy and youth ranks, he eventually earned a spot in the senior squad.

van Nieff

During his time at FC Groningen, van Nieff showcased his footballing prowess in no less than 83 matches for the youth teams, laying the foundation for his future success. His exceptional performances continued as he donned the colours of Groningen’s senior team over 100 times, playing a crucial role in their triumphant 2014-15 KNVB Cup campaign.

Stepping beyond Dutch borders, the versatile midfielder also made notable contributions to the Dutch side Heracles Almelo before embarking on a new challenge in Hungary with Puskás Akadémia FC ahead of the 2019-20 season. His stint with the Hungarian first-division club was nothing short of fruitful, as he consistently helped the team achieve higher positions in the league standings.

How would Van Nieff fit into Des Buckingham’s system?

Mumbai City’s 2022-23 season saw them make some slight technical changes to their playstyle. Des Buckingham deployed a 4-2-3-1 in possession which changed into a 4-1-3-2 when pressing out of possession. Jahouh was positioned just behind Apuia to sweep up the long balls and provide defensive cover. With an average of 1.2 interceptions and 3.5 tackles per game, he consistently disrupted the opposition’s plays and displayed his prowess in winning back possession for his team.

Jahouh’s ability to secure the ball is evident with an average of 0.6 possessions won per game, while also demonstrating his defensive strength by limiting successful dribbles past him to 1.2 per game. Additionally, he contributed to the team’s defensive efforts with an average of 1.3 clearances per game, further solidifying his importance in Mumbai City FC’s midfield.

van Nieff

A proper replacement for Jahouh’s behemoth contribution to the Islander’s success became essential for the team to replicate their playstyle and this is where van Nieff comes in. With a commanding presence in the midfield, Yoëll van Nieff proved to be a highly skilled and influential defensive screen in the Hungarian league last season. Operating from a deeper position on the field, his exceptional passing range and remarkable vision allowed him to significantly influence the game.

Ranking 2nd highest in the league with an average of 10.31 long passes per game, Nieff showcased his ability to distribute the ball effectively, initiating quick transitions from defence to attack and adding fluidity to his team’s gameplay. Moreover, his adeptness at short passing, averaging 11.15 passes in the final third (5th highest in the league), allowed him to dictate the tempo of the match and maintain control of the midfield.

Nieff’s prowess extended to executing through passes as well, ranking 6th highest in the league with an average of 2.14 through passes per game. Beyond his offensive contributions, Yoëll van Nieff’s tenacity and defensive awareness were evident as he fearlessly disrupted play during opposing attacks, making crucial interceptions and regaining possession for his team. His ability to read the game effectively provided stability to the backline, making him an invaluable asset to his team’s success.

van Nieff

The significance of this signing for Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC broke records as they went unbeaten for 18 matches in the previous season to lift the ISL League Winner’s Shield. Des Buckingham’s system was crucial to this and a player of Van Nieff’s calibre can do wonders to fill the gap left by Jahouh. Their sixth signing this season after Nathan Rodrigues, Franklin Nazareth, Tiri, Vinit Rai, and Akash Mishra, Mumbai City will look to replicate their immensely successful season.

These attributes make him a pretty solid fit as the anchor in Buckingham’s team, dictating the tempo from the deep and acting as a defensive cover when the team is out of possession. The player’s tenacity and skill make him an exciting watch for the upcoming season for sure.

Follow IFTWC for the latest updates on Indian football.

Latest news

Punjab FC Season Preview – 2023/24

Punjab FC, the freshly promoted team in the 2023-24 ISL season, is poised to make an impact right from...

Mohun Bagan SG Season Preview – 2023/24

Mohun Bagan SG had a very strong start to this year's pre-season as they emerged as the champions of...

Odisha FC Season Preview – 2023-24

Odisha FC has been getting better over the last three seasons. They started at the bottom of the table...

Chennaiyin FC Season Preview – 2023/24

For the fourth straight season, Chennaiyin FC will have a new manager at the helm. There are plenty of...

Kerala Blasters FC Season Preview – 2023-24

Kerala Blasters FC, a club whose prowess lies in their exceptional fan base, didn't had a good time in...

Indian Super League 2023-24 : Live Streaming & Telecast Details

In an exciting development for football enthusiasts across India, the Indian Super League (ISL) is set to break new...

Must read

7 Title Winning Coaches in 2023-24 – The Most Exciting ISL Season Awaits?

Recently, Manolo Marquez, the former Hyderabad FC, and the...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you