There have been an array of top players to ply their trade in the top tier of Dutch soccer. Ronaldo, Robin van Persie, Zlatan Imrahimovic, Luis Suarez and Wilfried Bony, just to name a few. While the formerly mentioned Eredivisie top scorers went off to impress on bigger stages almost immediately, another former Golden Boot winner seemed to struggle in his first few seasons away from Holland, but is now raising plenty of eyebrows.
After winning the Bundesliga in 2008/09 VfL Wolfsburg began a downward spiral, finishing in eighth and then 15th place in the their subsequent campaigns. Top scorer Edin Dzeko left for Manchester City midway through the 2010/11 season and it was up to Mario Mandzukic to fill his shoes. The strong Croatian quickly became a fan favourite, but was snatched up by Bayern Munich before the start of the 2012/13 season. The Wolves signed Bas Dost from SC Heerenveen no more than a month before losing Mandzukic, and it was now up to the Dutch forward to replicate the form of his predecessors. His transfer came off of the back of an Eredivisie Golden Boot winning 32-goal haul, but we all know how misleading that title can be.
Dost found the back of the net eight times in the Bundesliga during his first term under Dieter Hecking. Respectable, but not exactly what the fans would have liked from a man so similar in stature to their beloved Dzeko. What’s important to note is that Dost recorded a shot accuracy of 63% and a conversion rate of 20% during this spell. The following year he fell into obscurity, making only 13 appearances in the Bundesliga due to injury. In those 13 games, however, he managed four goals form nine shots – a conversion rate of 44% and a shot accuracy of 67%. Starting to see a trend?
This season the imposing Dutchman has been a revelation, just like his high-flying team. Dost has scored 11 goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances and became the first player in 102 matches to bag a brace against Bayern Munich when his side pulled off a 4-1 victory over the reigning champions. He’s missed exactly half of the Bundesliga season, yet is still a viable candidate to win the league’s Golden Boot simply because of his efficiency in front of goal.
Dost is by no means the quickest or the most technical, but his positioning is superb and his calmness in the six-yard box is exactly what a good poacher needs. To say that he’s been clinical this season would be an understatement. He doesn’t shoot the ball much, but when he does it usually finds the back of the net. In fact, he’s currently on target 71% of the time and converts an astounding 46% of his shots. To put that in perspective, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have conversion rates of 31 and 28% respectively. It definitely helps having the likes of Kevin De Bryune and now André Schürrle putting the ball on a silver platter, but you’ve got to finish your dinner and we know plenty of frontmen who fail at doing just that.
It would be simplistic to credit Dost with Wolfsburg’s tremendous season, especially considering he’s missed half of it. However, since he’s come back into the side they’ve been more complete, and De Bryune has less weight on his shoulders. Thus far the Wolves have only lost three Bundesliga matches and each loss was by just a solitary goal. They’ve yet to lose a game that Dost has played in and have won every game he’s scored in. It’s highly unlikely that Wolfsburg will make up the eight points that separates them from first place Bayern Munich, but a Champions League spot for 2015/16 looks to be in the bag. Not to mention they’ll remain a force to be reckoned with throughout the rest of the Europa League campaign. Aside from two defeats to Everton they’ve outscored their European opponents 15-3 and will look to continue that great form when they face Sporting in Portugal. There’s no doubt that Dost will be the target man in that match, as he was in their first encounter and scored both of Wolves’ goals.
Going forward it will be difficult for opposing teams to deal with Dost, as he’s quite a handful at 193cm and wins an average of roughly four headers per match. He’s difficult to pick up on set pieces, shields the ball extremely well and although he only has one assist, he’s heavily involved in linkup play in the final third. It remains to be seen whether or not his current form can last or if it’s a one off, but if you’ve seen him during his Heerenveen days and paid close attention to some of his latest goals then you know he’s capable of brilliance. He’s got all the tools necessary to emulate the form of the Bundesliga’s best strikers and his Wolfsburg predecessors, but now it’s up to him to maintain this good spell and justify his price tag.
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