A former coach of Inter defender Stefan de Vrij has explained why he thinks the Nerazzurri man is a better defender than Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt, according to a report in the Italian media today.
Speaking during an interview with FcINternews, Christ van der Poel also discussed how Stefan de Vrij used to be a midfielder when he was younger, which explains his excellent passing abilities.
It was only because of the financial difficulties that the Dutch club were facing that he was pushed into defence. It was his intelligence that made him thrive there.
“When he was in the Feyenoord youth academy he played in midfield, but everything changed when financial problems arose and young players were given the opportunity to show off.
“Mario Been, his first coach at the time, moved him to defence. After not even one match it was clear he would become a great player.
“He was calm, strong, and even without incredible speed, his tactical ability always put him in the best position to cover.”
It was an immense source of pride for Christ van der Poel when Stefan de Vrij was voted as the best defender in Serie A at the end of the 2020/21 season, as he helped Inter win the Scudetto.
“It has never been the case for a Dutch defender to win the title of best defender in Serie A. Since Stefan got this personal recognition, he has gained more respect in his homeland.
“Let’s say that before the media did not give him the attention he deserved. This is why it is nice to see that Van Gaal recognizes his talent and has started him in all three of his last games.
“As always, he played like a king. Strong, concentrated, without errors and leaving the opponents with no chance.”
Due to them both being Dutch, comparisons are made between Stefan de Vrij and Matthijs de Ligt a lot, but Christ van der Poel believes the Inter man is better defender right now.
“For me the answer is simple. Obviously, De Ligt is an excellent footballer, but he is young and has yet to learn a lot.
“The biggest difference is that De Ligt trusts his speed, which means he’s not always positioned correctly tactically, which results in more fouls. De Vrij is always in the right position, he reads the game and knows what is happening.
“He is also strong in setting up attacks and is a more than reliable defender. Not spectacular, but he does what he should. Do you know a stronger defender than Stefan right now?”