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NEWCASTLE United’s latest signing Sven Botman has played down the early comparisons to fellow countryman and Liverpool giant Virgil Van Dijk and admits there is still plenty to improve on as part of his game.
The 22-year-old, who holds plenty of promise for his career, after signing for the Magpies for around £39 million is expected to become a big player in the future with the club keen to further his development after impressing at Lille and coming through the famous Ajax academy.
It’s understood that the Newcastle staff hold him in high regard and believe he has the potential to be one of the leading centre backs in the world in years to come.
Like Van Dijk, Botman is a tall central defender who can is hard to beat physically but is more than comfortable with the ball at his feet. In terms of the complexion of the national team, Van Djik is firmly supplanted as a regular fixture within the Dutch first-team while Botman awaits his first senior cap as he continues to play for the Under-23’s.
Botman has a long way to go before climbing to the heights of Van Dijk’s career who has been a Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Champions League winner during his time at Liverpool, something that he has quickly recognised.
“I am far from his level yet” he said. “I want to reach that and that is my goal of course.
“Virgil is a great defender but I am far from his level and I think to play in the Premier League, I can go faster to make it to his level. I hope to be like him one day but I need a lot of time and a lot of matches.
“I think Newcastle is an environment to develop myself and to become a defender like him.”
While he might not be a Virgil Van Dijk yet, Botman was quick to describe what type of player he is to NUFCTV as he continued: “Well I am a tall guy, I am strong in duals, I like to play one vs one against strikers but I also like to help the team and build up from the back. I am left footed but I think that I can also play with my right.
“I have to improve a lot but I think I am on the way and I think Newcastle is the right step for me to develop myself.”
The 22-year-old, who was a Ligue 1 winner with Lille back in France, joined up with his new team-mates for the first time in pre-season Wednesday after being given an extended break due to being on international duty. He will spend the next week getting up to speed with the squad before they head out to their pre-season tour of Austria.
Botman’s trophy cabinet has just the one winners medal at the moment in comparison to a haul of silverware in Van Dijk’s after Liverpool’s huge rise under Jurgen Klopp in recent years but the Dutchman, who will be on Tyneside for the next five years, holds big ambitions with the Magpies, who harbour hopes of climbing up the Premier League table under the new Saudi PIF regime.
“I think Newcastle is a club at the moment with a lot of passion. When you watch the game you see a lot of players working hard and playing good football but at the end I think Newcastle wants to reach the top and the top is in the league. At the end, maybe in Europe.
“We need to mix that with good football and the passion is always the most important thing. In the upcoming five years, it’s looking bright. I just wanted to get started and play football again.”
Eddie Howe and his squad will play their first friendly of the summer next Friday on 15th July when they take on 1860 Munich which could be Botman’s first appearance in a Newcastle United shirt.
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