SM Exclusive: Expert gives insight on Rossonere loanee Aniek Nouwen

By Steph Insixiengmay -

Serie A Femminile briefly paused for the international break and has resumed this weekend. Many Milan players saw minutes with their international teams and are now ready to suit up for their club side, and among them is Aniek Nouwen.

Nouwen is one of the crown jewels of the Netherlands Women’s National Team. She is currently on loan to the Rossonere from her parent club, Chelsea.

Recently, we sat down with Marc P. Lamberts to discuss Nouwen’s potential impact at Milan. Lamberts is both an analyst and a scout with a UEFA A license who has worked professionally with a few clubs. He also runs a site where you can read his tactical analyses. Here’s what he had to say…

How would you describe Nouwen’s playing style and how do you think she would benefit Milan, who have been experiencing several issues at the back?

“I think she offers a more solid defensive display at the back. She has the right physical profile, knows how to win her duels, is solid in the air, and can be commanding in the defensive areas. On the ball, she is comfortable on her feet and can play passes to the middle third of the pitch, which can help Milan in the attack phase of the game.”

Nouwen has signed for Milan in hopes of getting more playing time ahead of the Women’s World Cup. Her team, The Netherlands, have been drawn into Group E along with the current holders, the USA. How do you think the Dutch will fare against them, especially with the possible absence of the leading goalscorer, Vivianne Miedema?

“I think that people have a too positive image of the Netherlands right now due to results in ‘17 and ‘19, but the Dutch team needs to redefine themselves after last years. So they need to build again, looking to strengthen their defence and have a clear idea of how to construct attacks. So I think it will be quite difficult against teams like the USA, England, Sweden and so on.”

Nouwen will come to Milan on loan from her current club, Chelsea. In the WSL, the style of play tends to be more athletic while in Italy, the teams are more technical and tactical. Do you think that she will be able to adjust to the style of play in Italy?

“I think the Italian style of play and tactics will suit her a bit better than in England. England is a transition-heavy nation in domestic leagues, and Italy is a bit more focused on tactics, which will benefit her play.”

One of Nouwen’s strengths is that of a playmaker. She bears a lot of similarities to previous Milan defenders who were also capable of playmaking, most notably Franco Baresi. How do you think her ability to create plays will benefit the team?

“It gives the team an extra player in attack. You can give her the ball, she can progress into the middle third and play line-breaking passes from there, which will help midfielders in a more attacking role. It means that you can create overloads in the final third a bit easier.”

Nouwen will join a long line of Dutch players who have played for Milan, including Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. She will also join Selena Babb and Chanté Dompig, two current players on the women’s team who are also from the country.

Though the Milan Women don’t have the same following that the men do, as they’ve only been around for five years, will people in The Netherlands still follow her progress on the team?

“With women’s football, it’s difficult as not all leagues are on the same level of publicity, but I think that followers of the Dutch national team will definitely keep an eye on her progression, as she is considered one of the better talents.”

The Netherlands seems to have been producing a lot of talent lately. In addition to Nouwen, there’s also Fenna Kalma, the world’s leading goalscorer (31 for FC Twente), and Daphne van Domselaar, the shot-stopper who was one of the standouts in last year’s Women’s Euros. What do you think is behind the abundance of talented, youth players in The Netherlands?

“I think it’s the ethics and passion of developing players. Academies are an important part of our way of thinking in football. We are encouraged to not only take part in football with our feet but also to challenge the coaches in their thinking.

“Players do know how to improve themselves, but it’s also important to understand that FC Twente and Ajax are far more ahead of the other teams. As a domestic league, we aren’t yet at other levels, so it’s important to not overestimate the players playing in the Eredivisie.”

The Rossonere will be in action against Como this Sunday at 14:30 CET. We thank Marc for taking the time out to speak to us.

Tags AC Milan AC Milan Women Aniek Nouwen
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