RR: What type of defender is Verstratten?
MM: The description on Football Manager of cultured defender is an absolute fit for Verstraaten. He’s very confident with the ball at his feet, always looking to move the ball forward. He fits in very well with the philosophy at Shields of playing from the back.
RR: What’s his background then? He’s been at PSV Eindhoven previously. How did he end up at South Shields?
MM: Verstraaten has had quite the footballing education so far. He is a product of the PSV Eindhoven academy. He was in their system from seven up to 18. He is now 23 years old, has played senior football for FC Eindhoven and also in America with Pacific Tigers and the Portland Timbers under 23’s.
While he moved over to England to study a masters in Finance, he kept up the football playing for Consett in the Northern League before moving to Shields in January.
RR: Has he played in the South Shields team on a regular basis?
MM: Yes. Since making his debut as a substitute away to Ashton United on Saturday January 4th, Verstraaten has started most league games.
He has shown his versatility. In his nine games so far most have been played as a central defender but he has also played in midfield and last game played at right back.
He has already chipped in with a well taken goal away to Stalybridge Celtic.
RR: Do you think he’s good enough to play at League One level?
MM: Being at Shields now just over a month it is hard to tell and it’s a big step up moving four divisions up the pyramid. However, he has proven so far that he can handle the rough and tumble of the Northern Premier League and he has came through PSV Eindhoven’s academy, so why not?
With his footballing pedigree he’d likely be right up there in the Sunderland squad in terms of technical ability.
It might be relevant to name Jordan Hunter who we have on loan from yourselves. Most Shields fans genuinely wonder how we managed to get such a player on loan and if he goes back to you next season surely he’d be pushing for a place.
We might have been saying the same about Verstraaten, we just haven’t seen enough of him with him joining so recently.
RR: Who would you compare him to?
MM: Difficult question considering we are talking about comparing non-league players to mainstream players most will have heard of. Typically I’m gonna have to “go dutch” and go old school and say he plays in the style of Frank de Boer.
RR: What are his biggest strengths?
MM: The biggest strengths are the reason for my high praise above which is outstanding technical ability certainly at this level, his intelligence on the ball and the speed at which he brings the ball out of defence.
RR: What are his biggest weaknesses?
MM: He will have some no doubt (we all do) but none that have jumped out at me so far in his very short time at the club.
His body of work so far at Shields has been solid despite The Mariners going through a recent loss of form.