When you’re one of the brightest young prospects in world football and your club announces before the end of the campaign that you will not be returning the following season, naturally, it gets tongues wagging.
This was the position 20-year-old Netherlands star Vivianne Miedema found herself in after her club, Bayern Munich, announced that she would be released at the end of her contract after failing to sign a new deal.
Moves to America were being suggested, while the prospect of a move to France was also rumoured. But it would be England that provided her destination, after Arsenal Ladies, a club rich in attacking talent, beat off competition from Manchester City Women and Paris St Germain to land the 50 cap Netherlands international and add to their Dutch contingent (Sari van Veenendaal, Dominique Janssen and Danielle van de Donk).
For the young striker, the move brought to an end a three year stint in Germany with Bayern Munch, a club she joined as a 17-year-old prodigy following a successful spell with Holland’s Heerenveen. In between joining the club and making her debut, Miedema also helped the Netherlands win the UEFA Euro Under-19 Championships, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Spain.
But what was the reason for the move now, especially to a club that can’t offer her Champions League football next season.
“I had some really good years a Bayern and I really enjoyed it, but I needed a new challenge and to be honest, I didn’t really want to stay in Germany,” she said.
“The way of playing wasn’t my style of play, so I wanted to try something new
Miedema pointed to the system her national team plays, more of a 4-3-3 with the fullbacks pushing forward, as a formation and approach that allows the team to get the best out of her.
Bayern, in comparison, often played with a more defensive setup that would often leave the Dutch forward isolated and unable to influence the game as much as she would like.
This understandably, became a frustration.
“If you saw Bayern we would often play with five at the back and defensive midfielders in front, which meant a lot of long balls forward and me trying to run in behind the opposition – I just wanted something different.”
Fortunately for Miedema, Arsenal under Head Coach Pedro Martinez Losa, do adopt a formation that sees two forward players out wide, namely Dan Carter and Heather O’Reilly, with a number nine playing in the middle. During the Spring Series that role fell mainly to Jodie Taylor or Beth Mead.
Miedema admitted she did speak to other clubs, but it was the Gunners who won her over after she visited the setup at London Conley.
“When I went there it felt good, and obviously I know some girls from the national team who were positive about the club and how they want to build something new and be a strong team.
“I’m good friends with Sari van Veenendaal and she said the club is going in the right direction, so I trust her words.
“It was a hard decision, but I am happy with Arsenal right now.”
Arsenal opened a dedicated hub for the ladies team last year and the players now train as full-time professionals at the same facility as the men’s side.
Miedema described this as a ‘step up’ from what was available to her at Bayern, and was impressed with what was available to her, which was echoed by her international teammates before she joined.
The added exposure of the Women’s Super League on BT Sport and the BBC this season meant the Dutch forward has seen the team play a number of times, and has also been provided highlights of games to ensure she is prepared for the new season and has some familiarity with her new teammates.
“I’ve heard a lot about the league because its not only the Dutch players at Arsenal that talk about it, but also Tessel Middag at Manchester City and Shanice van de Sanden at Liverpool.
“We played Arsenal twice earlier this year and the first game they were really good. Every time I have spoken to Pedro Losa he has spoken about attacking football and wanting to get the striker into good positions, which is something I missed towards the end of my time at Bayern and I am really looking forward to.”
Miedema will now concentrating on preparing for this summer’s Euros as her country gears up for hosting their first ever major tournament, before she heads back to England in mid-August to begin pre-season training with her new club.
Much like at the World Cup when many picked her out as a player to watch, the young forward will no doubt be under the spotlight once again following her high profile move to the FA WSL.
But she outlined that having just turned 18 before the World Cup, the expectation was perhaps a little unrealistic. It was an experience she learned from, and is prepared for the challenge ahead.
“I had just turned 18 then so you can’t really compare where I am now to where I was then,” she said.
“I’m ready for that pressure and I am just really looking forward to starting at Arsenal.”
With two Frauen Bundesliga titles, UEFA Women’s Champions League appearances and World Cup experience, it’s no exaggeration to suggest that Arsenal have landed one of the most promising young players in world football. The challenge now, is for Pedro Losa to keep all his attacking talent happy, and propel Arsenal back to the top of the women’s game in England, having fallen away over the last few years.
The signing of Miedema, is without question a statement of intent, and given the right supply, Arsenal have a player capable of helping the club achieve more glory.
Read Miedema’s views on her Netherlands team and their chances at this summer’s Euros in our dedicated preview guide for Euro 2017, released July 1st.