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IAlthough this summer’s European transfer market was the quietest on record, the case of one particular player continued to make headlines in Holland. Where would Vitesse winger Victor Sikora be heading – Ajax or Fulham?

In the end, the Dutch international opted for a reunion with his former coach Ronald Koeman. But the move was complicated by the fact that Fulham were prepared to pay more for Sikora.

Vitesse, who are virtually bankrupt, could have used the extra cash and were keen on Sikora joining the English Premiership club. However, after medical tests on Sikora’s weak ankle, Fulham wanted to pay the transfer fee in instalments over four years. Vitesse said no and accepted Ajax’s original, lower offer, much to the player’s relief.

“I spent four days and three sleepless nights in London,” Sikora said. “I was constantly wondering if it wasn’t too soon to be moving abroad. That Ajax will be my next club must be fate. It’s a step I can’t skip.”

Not that he doesn’t want to play in the Premier League at some point in the future. He has always said that is his long-term aim, especially after hearing the stories of Holland team-mates Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

That Sikora has preferred to follow a career path similar to that of Marc Overmars is no coincidence. Both are stocky and speedy wingers who can play on either flank. Like Overmars, Sikora started at Go Ahead Eagles in his hometown of Deventer before playing eventually for Ajax. Sikora even replaced Overmars when he made his debut for Holland, against Turkey in February 2001.

However, there is more to Sikora than just being an Overmars clone. He can also play as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation. Furthermore, his determination, studiousness and modesty make him admired by people like Koeman and Barcelona boss Louis Van Gaal. Sikora says he inherited the character traits of his late grandfather, a Polish parachutist during World War II, who stayed in Holland.

His biggest fan died last year but still plays an important part in his life. After every match Sikora visits his grandfather’s grave to tell him about the game.

Koeman has no doubt Sikora’s future is bright, saying: “He could improve his crossing but he has huge potential and can only get better.”

If he does, playing inEngland is the next step. But by then more Premiership clubs are likely to be chasing him.

FACT FILE
Club Ajax
Country Holland
Born April 11, 1978, in Deventer
Previous clubs Go Ahead Eagles, Vitesse
International debut February 2001, v Turkey
International caps 5 (0 goals)

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