Owen Wijndal


AZ Alkmaar's Owen Wijndal
Llew Davies

FEBRUARY 22, 2022

Note: This profile was first written in May 2020. All statistics and facts are correct to that time period.

Update – May 2022: Two years after this profile was written, Owen Wijndal remains at AZ Alkmaar. Myron Boadu, Calvin Stengs and Teun Koopmeiners all left for bigger things, and Wijndal is now club captain for a team that are competitive in the upper-echelon of the Eredivisie.

He even signed a new contract a month or so ago, and it is now being reported that the Dutch international has a release clause of just €10 million which will be active this summer. That represents excellent value for any number of top-five league clubs.

Who is Owen Wijndal?

Owen Wijndal has navigated a relatively conventional ascent to first-team football. His three-year progression from under-19 player to first-team starter has been unremarkable, yet steady. It is also a notable manifestation of a structured development programme that AZ Alkmaar and Netherlands’ youth system have established – and exercised – for many of his peers. 

His first experience of senior football came in the Tweede Divisie, the predominantly amateur third-tier of the Dutch league pyramid. Wijndal played over 2,000 minutes for Jong AZ, the B team, against fully fledged adults – an invaluable experience for players of his age and academy education.

Boasting a team of home-grown teenagers, they won the league by a considerable marging that season, all while integrating players that have since established themselves as important first-teamers, like club captain Teun Koopmeiners.

Following their title triumph, Wijndal spent much of the next two seasons in the Eerste Divisie with the Jonh team while training and playing for the first-team on occasion. Almost 40 second division appearances with the B team were supplemented by a healthy allocation of 900 minutes with the first-team as his development programmed primed him for the next step.

That step was sanctioned last summer; the perfect culmination of a careful progression pln. In total, Wijndal played just shut of 3,500 minutes in his first full senior season, starting all but one of AZ Alkmaar’s 34 games across the Eredivisie and Europa League. Despite the campaign being curtailed and cancelled by the pandemic, Wijndal impressed and set a high standard – as did his childhood friends and long-time team-mates Myron Boadu and Calvin Stengs.

AZ Alkmaar left-back Owen Wijndal

Owen Wijndal's style of play

AZ Alkmaar are now managed by Arne Slot, a once-modest player in the top two Dutch divisions, who was promoted to full-time coach last summer. He places importance on his team being proactive in possession, progressive in build-up and penetrative in attack, an approach that maximises the skillsets of AZ Alkmaar’s young squad.

Owen Wijndal is no different. He is a left-back who exhibits consistently good technical fundamentals. He has a good grasp of the basics: scanning space to as­sess danger and inform his next decision; positioning his body with an open posture and his head up to re­ceive and secure the ball; taking positive touches that push the ball out from his feet, setting up his next ac­tion. 

All of the above enable him to operate with con­fidence, conviction and fluidity, to play a prominent role in the way AZ progress possession and develop attacks.

That is no more pertinent than in his relationship with Oussama Idrissi, a dynamic winger who forms a third of AZ’s excellent forward line. Idrissi often retains width when AZ have the ball in deeper positions as Wijndal moves inside into the half-space. He scans space regularly and adjusts his position quickly to create angles to receive passes between lines. 

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When Idrissi moves inside, 20-year-old holds a withdrawn position to stretch and overload opponents, with his composure and passing providing a reliable outlet. He and Idrissi have fostered an understanding which pos­es dynamic problems that are difficult to solve. 

Moreover, the pair have established a potent under­standing in the final third, where Wijndal’s techni­cal skill and tactical intelligence is outstanding. The depth and timing of his movements beyond Idrissi are consistently excellent. He overlaps and underlaps with conviction, hitting spaces behind the defence with speed. 

A subtle aspect of his movement is the angles he takes: rather than moving in a straight line, he bends his runs to suit the situation, be it to create an easier pass for a team-mate or to attack goal directly, which make him difficult to track effectively. Wijn­dal’s final third movement facilitates a dangerous crossing ability. 

His ball-striking technique is good; he needs little time or space to execute a driven ball into the six-yard box or toward the penalty spot. His six assists this season illustrate his ability to create de­cent shots for team-mates with well-executed crosses and cut-backs that consistently create danger.

While the 20-year-old has proven to be a valuable as­set in possession, his defensive ability has significant room for improvement. As a direct defender in one-on-one situations, Wijndal is mobile and tenacious, but also flawed.

His anticipation and footwork is de­cent, as is his posture, but he is often too quick to close down an opponent. His eagerness and aggression can be exploited by quick actions, in turn isolating him in poor positions.

Poor positioning is a feature of his defending in deep blocks too. Wijndal lacks awareness and focus when protecting his own penalty area, concentrating too much on the ball and failing to scan his surroundings or adjust his posture. His first instinct is to step out of the defensive line to impact the ball, a high-risk approach which leaves a lot of space behind him and has been exploited by good teams – and will likely be more often in a better league.

His defensive skillset is flawed, but it will improve with coaching and experience; his are issues that affect most defenders his age. There is more than enough there to work with.

Forecasting Owen Wijndal's future

With the current Eredivisie season cancelled, no guarantee that the next will start to any conventional schedule and this summer’s European Championships postponed until next summer, the focus will now inevitably shift to Owen Wijndal’s immediate future. 

Myron Boadu and Calvin Stengs would have been sure-fire sales in a world not impacted by COVID–19 following their outstanding seasons, and there would have been a significant market for Wijndal too. 

While his childhood friends – both of whom are represented by Mino Raiola, pertinently – would almost certainly move to a top-five league, a year or two at a club like Ajax would serve Wijndal’s development well. Wherever he lands, the 20-year-old is entirely capable of developing into the long-term international left-back for the Netherlands.


Owen Wijndal is a technically strong full-back that combines and works well with his winger to effectively overlap to create dangerous attacking overloads.

Wijndal can be exploited when operating in a deep block. Some of his defensive fundamentals, particularly his positioning, could use some refinining.

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