Pedro Marques (att)(Sporting CP); Oussama Tannane (att)(Goztepe); Kevin Bukusu (def)(Helmond Sport, end of loan); Joris Kramer (def)(AZ, on loan); Andri Fannar Baldursson (mid)(Bologna, on loan);
Jonathan Okita (k)(att)(FC Zurich); Thomas Beekman (mid)(TOP Oss); Thibo Baeten (att)(Beerschot, on loan); Cas Odenthal (r)(def)(released); Javier Vet (sp)(mid)(released); Edgar Barreto (r)(mid)(retired); Rens van Eijden (def)(retired); Ali Akman (r)(att)(Eintracht Frankfurt, end of loan); Rodrigo Guth (sp)(def)(Atalanta, end of loan); Mikkel Duelund (sp)(mid)(Dinamo Kyiv, end of loan); Joep van der Sluijs (att)(TOP Oss); Wilfried Bony (att)(released);
The past season was a rather positive one for NEC, who were returning to the top flight of the Dutch football after 4 seasons spent in the Eerste Divisie. In fact, they ended up on the 11th standing, only 3 points away from a qualification to the Europa Conference League playoffs. Coach Rogier Meijer’s boys could have actually aimed at more than salvation, had they not lost 8 out of the last 11 games (W2 D1). Not particularly solid at the back, NEC had serious problems offensively and it is no surprise as they relied mostly on 19-year-old Akman, who scored only once since mid-December.
Akman returned to his parent club, while their top scorer, winger Okita, capable of 7 goals and 6 assists, left for pastures new, thus leaving their attack depleted. 24-year-old striker Marques arrived from Sporting after a season spent mostly on the sidelines and, at the moment, is carrying the weight of the attack all alone.
NEC lost one more starter in centre-back Odenthal, who was properly replaced by Kramer, arriving on loan from AZ, while Bukusu, coming from Helmond Sport, should represent a valid alternative at the back, with Guth also gone.
An aging Barreto, a major player in the middle of the park, was let retire despite his expecting an extension of the deal with the club. 20-year-old Baldursson, on loan from Bologna, is set to become a protagonist of the midfield in the future but he currently does not seem ready enough, which is a problem with Schone already 35. On the other hand, attacking midfielder Tannane could be given some relevant playing time.
NEC lost both quality and depth all over the place and they are still looking for more additions especially in the attack and in the midfield. Salvation should be their sole goal.