Europa League: Sven Botman, Lille defense giant

In six months, Sven Botman, just 21 years old, has already taken the full measure of Ligue 1. Arrived this summer from the Netherlands, the young Dutch giant (1.95 m) was launched from the start in central defense by Christophe Galtier to the left of Captain José Fonte. He has not left his post, holder 24 games out of 25 in the league – spared against Brest, before Lille-Ajax last Thursday. And 24 times 90 minutes …

First loaned to Lille then signed for five seasons in compensation for the departure of the Brazilian Gabriel (to Arsenal against 26 million euros), Botman is the last good pick from Lille, Luis Campos, the Portuguese sports director, before the latter. leaves the northern club following the takeover of the club by a new shareholder, Merlyn Partners. Transferred for 8 million euros, Botman’s odds have already risen considerably in half a season, to around 25 million euros.

But it is first on the field that Christophe Galtier appreciates the value of the young Batavian: “When Luis (Campos) came to see me and told me about the player, it didn’t take me long to see what ‘he could do. Botman is tall, very tall. He is therefore excellent in the air but he is also assured with the ball and excellent in the tackle. Like many players coming out of Ajax academy, he had a very good football education. “

Silent and diligent

The Lille coach is not afraid to draw a parallel with Kurt Zouma, 26, the international defender of Chelsea, whom he had under his orders in Saint-Etienne. “Before he was 17 he played (Editor’s note; in Ligue 1), assures the technician. I hope Sven has a career like Kurt’s. Silent and diligent more than a barker, Botman asks for nothing better.

Galtier, whose defense is the best in Ligue 1 with 16 goals conceded, recently welcomed his central Fonte-Botman hinge: “37 and 20, right-handed and left-handed. A 20-year-old kid who arrives in a squad that has had results, who had a very good season on loan and who has the ability to print quickly. Next to him, a player who leads, who commands, who shares, who needs youth. Afterwards, this complementarity can and must improve. “

“Ajax is the club that made me what I am”

The young Sven, born in January 2000 in the suburbs of Amsterdam, took his first license at Ajax at the age of 9 and completed his entire training there. At 18, he joined the reserve team, “Jong Ajax”, where he formed the central hinge with Perr Schuurs, same age, same height. That season, his last among young people, Botman had as partners Mitchel Bakker, left-back of PSG, and Kaj Sierhuis, striker of Reims. The following season, Schuurs joined the first team, while Botman, failed because he was not considered a player enough, was loaned to Heerenveen, for his debut in the Dutch top flight, the Eredivisie, last season.

“I grew up there,” Botman says of Ajax. It was like a second home for me. I am happy in Lille but Ajax is the club that made me what I am now… ”By the grace of the Europa League, the two promotion comrades meet for a double face-to-face meeting.

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Present in Losc’s six games in the group stage, Botman notably passed the Zlatan Ibrahimovic test with mention, on the occasion of Lille’s 3-0 success against AC Milan at San Siro in early November. With the “Oranje”, the young Botman has already been called up without playing by the coach Frank de Boer in the Nations League in November and is watching for a possible new call-up for the qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup in March. Botman having erupted in the face of the whole of Europe, by Liverpool in particular, it would be surprising that Lille at the next transfer window undertook to retain its giant.

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