Mathijsen replaces Vlaar

Feyenoord has reached agreement with Joris Mathijsen on a three-year deal. The central defender - capped an impressive 82 times by the Netherlands - passed a medical early Friday and was expected to iron out the last formalities by the end of the day. Mathijsen will not be available for selection in the season opener at FC Utrecht on Sunday, as Feyenoord will not have a chance to register the player in time.

Technical director Martin van Gee feels the 32-year-old's arrival is 'crucial' to the continued development of the many young players in the squad. ‘We have a squad packed with talent, but after the departure of Ron Vlaar and Karim El Ahmadi among others we clearly needed a very experienced player who could bring the calm, confidence and leadership both on the pitch and in the dressing room necessary to deliver top performances on a consistent basis. In Joris we have now brought that person in and we - staff and management - are very happy about that, said Van Geel.

Mathijsen came into the picture unexpectedly for Feyenoord after his club Malaga expressed a willingness to let the centre back go despite him still being under contract. 'We would not have been able to get him otherwise,' acknowledged Van Geel. ‘To everyone's delight we've now managed to reach an agreement.'

Van Geel has long known Mathijsen, who also attracted interest from Ajax. 'Since I was 15 to be precise.' They were at both Willem II and AZ together. ‘Joris is a very experienced, intelligent and to this day very hungry player with strong leadership qualities. I am totally convinced that Feyenoord will get a lot of pleasure from him in the years to come and having him around will help speed up the development of the many young players,' said Van Geel.

Joris Mathijsen is equally enthusiastic about the agreement. 'I'm happy we managed to get there. In the very first meeting with Martin van Geel I made it clear I very much wanted to come to Feyenoord. Last year it was great to see everything that was happening at Feyenoord from afar and it's really great to now have the chance to come and contribute to that.'

Technical director Van Geel confirmed that Feyenoord still have funds available for a new striker.

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