The meteoric rise of Twente's Ola John - From turning down Arsenal & Manchester United to taking the Eredivisie by storm

The young winger opted against a move to the Premier League last year in favour of a prolonged stay with the 2010 Eredivisie champions and his decision is paying off
By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor

The Premier League has become something of a promised land for Dutch talents in recent times with players such as Tim Krul, Oguzhan Ozyakup, Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick van Aanholt, to name just a few, all making the move to England at young age.

Nevertheless, there are also players who are still able to resist the temptation of an early transfer and Twente's Ola John is perhaps the perfect example of why staying in the Netherlands could be more beneficial in the long term.

Both Manchester United and Arsenal were keen to lure him overseas back in 2010, hardly three months after making his first-team debut, but the 19-year-old gave it good thought and decided to sign a contract extension until 2014 rather than move abroad. He felt staying put would eventually benefit his career.

John's decision to stay was not only based on a hunch that he wasn't ready for the move abroad at the time; his older brother Collins John also played a big role in his contract extension with Twente.

Unlike his younger brother, Collins did decide to make the move to England at the tender age of 18 after only one-and-a-half seasons in Twente's first team. The striker impressed in his first few months at Fulham and even broke into the Dutch national side. However, he eventually failed to live up high expectations and has been a free agent ever since leaving Azerbaijani side Gabala this summer, after previous unsuccessful spells in Belgium and the USA.

Unsurprisingly, Collins advised Ola not to move abroad when United and Arsenal came knocking.

CAREER STATISTICS | Ola John (Twente & Netherlands)

Age: 19

Position: Winger
Value: €3m [£2.6m]

Contract: 2014

Acceleration, technique, crossing
Height Club Weight Place of Birth Former club
1.80 m
80 kg
Zwedru, Liberia
DES Nijverdal

Almost one year on from John's contract extension, the conclusion can be drawn that he made the right decision to snub United and Arsenal in order to stay with Twente.

The versatile attacker has developed from 'just' a promising youngster at the Tukkers into one of the revelations of the 2011-12 Eredivisie campaign and he is now considered to be one of the most exciting talents on the continent.

John struggled to secure regular first-team football under head coach Michel Preud'homme in 2010-11, but the left-sider needed little time to convince new trainer Co Adriaanse of his qualities this summer.

He single-handedly kept Twente's chances of making the group stage of the Champions League alive with a superb substitute cameo in the 2-2 home draw against Benfica in August, and although the Tukkers eventually failed to qualify, John has not been out of the starting XI since. He has so far netted two goals in the Eredivisie, while setting up three more to help Twente to joint-second spot in the table, four points behind table-toppers AZ.

Twente's front-line has been given qualities by John that it previously lacked; his blistering pace, acceleration and close control make it hard for any defender to keep him in check. On top of that, the Netherlands Under-21 starlet regularly finds the head of his fellow attackers with pinpoint crosses from the left flank.   

It is too early to go to England and Twente are a good club, so why would I want to leave?

- Ola John

John's good performances in the past few months will only have strengthened Manchester United and Arsenal's feeling that he has what it takes to become a hit in the Premier League. Nevertheless, the Liberia-born forward is not in a rush to move. He realises that a transfer will eventually materialise if he maintains his current form.

"At the moment I’ve extended my contract with Twente. I was interesting Manchester United and Arsenal, but I have chosen to remain with Twente. In any case it is too early to go to England and Twente are a good club, so why would I want to leave? If I do really well, the chance to go to a big club will still come," John recently said about the interest from abroad.

Those comments prove that John is not only perfectly aware of his qualities, but show that he has learned from his brother's mistakes of the past as well. Scouts from all the big leagues will continue to visit Eredivisie games in their search for the next big thing and there's little doubt that John will continue to attract the interest of the aforementioned observers.

It's now up to the teenager to keep up his current form, starting with Saturday's highly-anticipated Eredivisie game against PSV, and if he manages to do just that, his long-term future could very well lie in London or Manchester... Once he's ready for it.

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