‘take the risk with transfer-free Van den Boomen’
It is the most important match in the club’s history. And the most important match of his own career: the French Cup final. At 27, Branco van den Boomen can grab his first prize at Dutch-tinged Toulouse.
His talent was always beyond question. But it kept failing at the highest level. Until this season. In the Ligue 1, Van den Boomen is decisive, as he has been for years at the second level.
Tonight (kickoff 9 p.m.) he will be just fine as captain at the Stade de France for the cup final against Nantes.
(Young) Ajax, FC Eindhoven, sc Heerenveen, Willem II, FC Eindhoven, De Graafschap, Toulouse FC. At first glance, the path the midfielder has taken is actually anything but logical.
Dealing with disappointments
“It appears that he is good at collecting and dealing with disappointments,” concluded Jean-Paul de Jong, who took Van den Boomen under his wing at FC Eindhoven in 2014.
He was transfer-free after his contract at Ajax – where he never made his debut – was not renewed. “Branco had a clear goal and wanted to step up through us again. We could offer him a stage to work on his talent. We were very happy that he chose us at the time,” De Jong said.
As an Eindhoven boy, Van den Boomen, with his Brabant sociability, fits in perfectly with the club. By the week he becomes a better player. “I have experienced few players with such a good kick as Branco,” De Jong recalls. “His free kick is really gigantic.”
In the forty duels under De Jong, Van den Boomen scored four goals and as many assists. He stands out and Heerenveen brings him to Friesland. But in the premier league it did not work out. Even a loan to Willem II did not bring the desired result.
And so, two years after his departure, Van den Boomen returned to FC Eindhoven in the first division. Soon he is again the best in the Jan Louwers Stadion. After two strong seasons De Graafschap picks him up.
Luck of the draw
“When I heard that he had a limited transfer fee in his contract, I asked the management to make an attempt,” Mike Snoei, then coach of the ‘Superboeren’, told me.
“We paid 300,000 euros for him. That’s quite an amount for a transfer within the first division, but we wanted to promote with Branco. And we almost succeeded, until the outbreak of the coronavirus.”
De Graafschap is then on course for promotion, until it is decided to quit the league. Gone promotion. “Very unpleasant, but for Branco in hindsight the best thing to do,” Snoei said.
Indeed, Van den Boomen has a clause in his contract with De Graafschap. If he does not succeed in promotion, he can leave for 300,000 euros. Toulouse, at that time playing in the Ligue 2, is interested in the midfielder who scored five goals and provided ten assists in 24 matches on behalf of De Graafschap.
Van den Boomen is also up for it. Unlike Snoei, who has his doubts in the move to the second French level. “I thought he could be more ambitious,” he said.
Earning seven times more
Snoei is still trying to persuade him to stay with De Graafschap longer and wait for a bigger club. “But Branco had a good argument: after all, he could go and earn six or seven times more at Toulouse.”
“I can put up quite nice soccer stories and knew there were other clubs who were also interested in him, but yes, this salary. He was also no longer the youngest, so again I could understand his choice.”
But Toulouse also proved to be the right move sport-wise. Van den Boomen promoted to the Ligue 1 last season and was named the best player in the second division. His numbers don’t lie: 37 duels, 12 goals, 21 assists.
And this season he (finally) also manages to shine at the highest level. Toulouse is in a good position with a twelfth place in the league and can take the cup as the first ever prize in the club’s history.
Back to the Netherlands?
With Van den Boomen as the weekly standout. In 34 duels (league and cup) he is already in double figures in terms of assists: 12 (and six goals). His contract expires this summer and the Dutchman has no complaints about interest. According to Snoei, Van den Boomen would do well to return to the premier league.
“I hope he has the ambition to make it to Oranje. That would be a great victory for him. He has had to take two steps back sometimes, to go four forward again.”
PSV is said to be interested. “His father is idolized by that club, but I hope Arne Slot is serious about looking at him. With his dynamic game, he is the perfect successor to Orkun Kökçü at Feyenoord, if the latter leaves,” Snoei believes.
“Branco will soon be transfer free, so I would say PSV or Feyenoord, take the risk!”