Dean Huijsen: Scouting Report by @HolisticFutbol
Huijsen is a CB who has spent the last 3 seasons in the Juventus youth ranks, he represents the Dutch national team with a dual citizenship (Dutch Spanish). He’s 18 years of age and Transfermarkt values him at 400k Euros as of June 2023
The dutchman stands tall at 195cm, his build is skinny even in his legs, in terms of acceleration he can close down gaps quickly and when he gets going he’s tough to shake off the ball, a result of excellent balance. His vertical jump is great despite his height negating the need for it. With regards to stamina he seems great, finishes 90s with ease and manages his energy really efficiently in the game, running when he has to and jogging otherwise. There’s no obvious decline in the quality of his actions as the game progresses, in fact in some matches his best moments come in the last 10 minutes.
With the ball Huijsen has some qualities that make him a desirable addition to any system. First of all he’s completely two footed, in terms of line breaking passes, long balls, tackles he can do it all with both feet, although he seems more comfortable tackling with his left. When the ball is at his feet he likes to progress it with vertical passes to the interiors, often times even aiming for the higher player like the 10, to set up an up back combination. He’s shown an ability to play all kinds of passes, be it chipped passes to the midfielder or fullback, cross-field pings, or quick short passes under pressure. Before receiving the ball the dutchman makes sure to scan and plan his next move, which helps him at playing quick passes to the free player. He’s also great at carrying the ball, reminiscent of a John Stones the way he speeds up and slows down while gliding with the ball. A good sense of when to contact the ball in combination with his intimidating build and running power make him difficult to stop once he gets going.
One move he does pull off effectively is the overlap, but I didn’t get a chance to see it more than a handful of times because of his position. That being said he starts his runs early, times them correctly, and has the potential to whip in a good cross if the overlap is played. Those runs as a wide CB reminded me of Ben White, that alongside his ability to play under pressure with both feet could make him a candidate for that popular CB at FB role.
Out of possession
Huijsen without the ball is a vacuum machine, from minute 1 to 90 he snuffs out any potential threats that enter his zone. He’s quick to track runners, likes to get tight in order to use his body. At times he did get turned quite easily because of his skinniness despite making no technical mistakes. The centreback is constantly scanning without the ball, anticipating potential threats like a pass between the lines or a cutback, and adjusting his body position accordingly. His turning speed and recovery pace mean even if he makes a mistake he still has a high chance of rectifying it, long legs also give him more reach when making tackles. When an attacker is on his chest Huijsen has good technique, using his arms to disrupt balance, peeking over the attacker’s should to maintain vision of the ball, and wrapping his legs around to knick the ball. Aerially Huijsen is near unbeatable, when attacking the aerial he towers over his opponents, but he is slightly less effective at static aerials, and should work on taking the next step of passing the ball with his head instead of clearing it.
Focusing on 1v1s, Huijsen has shown room for improvement in this aspect, he can be very square in his body orientation at times. He also likes to get close to the player, which is not necessary given his range when tackling. This can result in tricky wingers slipping past him. With regards to tackle success rate he makes contact with the ball more often than not when going down, but he needs to refine his accuracy in order to cleanly get the ball out of danger. In addition to that he should improve his 1v1 technique in terms of showing the attacker to the weaker foot or worse space. The sample size was limited as he plays in a back 3 in a fairly strong team, so I had to go back months to develop a sample size. One aspect of his game that it seems he improved on is rashness. In last season’s matches he was much more erratic and error prone, whereas this season he looks infinitely more calm and assured. Below is a more detailed and annotated video of his 1v1s and general defensive behaviour.
The Future For Dean Huijsen
As I said he reminds me of two technical English CBs, Ben White and John Stones, in his ability to play on the touchline and overlap and the ability to drive with the ball centrally. Considering his two footedness and aerial dominance you have a CB who can fill out any backline role, from deep block CB to overlapping FB, inverted FB, LCB, CCB, RCB. A joker card in the defensive half of the pitch, if you have a hole in your defence he is malleable enough to mimic its shape and fill that gap. But what about the number 6 role? Well it’s difficult to judge because there’s no footage of him receiving in 6 zones or receiving the type of passes a 6 would usually receive. Playing facing your own goal is a different game entirely, that plus the different running economy and defensive responsibility make it tough to extrapolate his skillset to that role. Although given what I’ve seen of him, from ball carrying, pass variety, cognitive speed, physical speed, anticipation, if he could adapt as a 6 that would be the role where his qualities are maximised, a Dutch Declan Rice.