Aberdeen’s substantial investment in Vicente Besuijen can still pay off if the winger grabs the chance to resurrect his Pittodrie career.
The Dons spent big when splashing out 500,000 euros (£430,000) to land Besuijen on a four-and-a-half-year contract from ADO Den Haag in January 2022.
Much was expected of the 22-year-old and he impressed in the early stages of last season before falling out of favour under former boss Jim Goodwin.
Besuijen’s time at Pittodrie looked over when he was sent on loan to Excelsior Rotterdam in a January transfer deadline-day move.
The Eredivisie side had the option to acquire Besuijen on a permanent basis at the end of the season – and Besuijen’s time at Pittodrie looked to be over
However, the loan at Dutch top-flight Excelsior was hindered by a hamstring injury with the playmaker making just two appearances, both off the bench.
Now, Besuijen is back for pre-season training with the Reds and boss Barry Robson has offered the opportunity to resurrect his Dons career.
Robson has said the winger will be given the chance to impress during pre-season.
If he grabs it and shines, Besuijen would be like a new signing – with his Dons contract running until summer 2026.
The winger has undoubted talent and made an impressive start to last season under then-manager Goodwin.
He netted seven goals and pitched in with three assists from July to October.
A regular first team starter, Besuijen was a key component of Goodwin’s side, then he disappeared from the starting line-up.
The humiliating 4-0 loss to Dundee United at Tannadice was the last time Besuijen started a Premiership game for the Dons.
He was substituted in the 57th minute and never won his starting slot back in the league.
There was one further start in the 4-1 Scottish Cup defeat of Partick Thistle on October 19.
After that he was a peripheral figure.
In early October, the notion of Besuijen exiting Aberdeen on loan in the winter window would have been laughed at as farcical.
By the end of January, it seemed inevitable.
A lot has changed since then, crucially Aberdeen’s manager.
Besuijen has previously said he never wanted to leave the Dons, and that if Goodwin had been sacked earlier, he would have remained at Pittodrie.
Goodwin was dismissed after the humiliating 6-0 loss to Hibs at Easter Road on January 28.
The loan deal to Excelsior, with the option to buy, was already agreed before Goodwin was axed.
Now, there is a clean slate under Robson and the opportunity to push to be part of the manager’s plans in a season where the Dons have European group stage action.
Robson has laid down the gauntlet for Besuijen to prove he can not just hit the heights of early last season, but raise the bar even higher.
If he can shine in pre-season, Besuijen can go on to be a key player for Robson and the Reds.
Aberdeen will also get payback for their hefty investment in a player with undoubted talent.
Former Aberdeen skipper Anthony Stewart will also be given the chance to salvage his Pittodrie career following a frustrating loan spell at MK Dons.
Robson sanctioned the January transfer deadline day loan exit of Stewart days after taking on the managerial role.
He also then handed the captaincy to Graeme Shinnie, who was then on loan from Wigan Athletic.
Having the pressures of captaining the Dons removed could free up Stewart to impress in pre-season.
The challenge has been set by Robson.
It is up to both players to respond.
Another quality loan from Liverpool?
Aberdeen look to have landed another quality loan star from Liverpool with the capture of centre-back Rhys Williams.
The Reds hit the jackpot last season when taking in midfielder Leighton Clarkson from the Anfield club on loan.
Aberdeen then pulled off a major transfer coup when signing Clarkson on a four-year permanent contract from the six-time European champions.
Now, they have secured towering centre-back Williams, who has experience of the Premier League and Champions League.
Williams played a key role in Liverpool’s unbeaten finish to the 2020-21 campaign to secure qualification for the Champions League.
Since 2021, he has spent loan spells at Blackpool and Swansea.
The 22-year-old has played 19 times for Liverpool and came in for Virgil van Dijk when the Dutch international was injured.
Williams has also played alongside Van Dijk in the centre of the Liverpool defence – he was even hailed as the next Van Dijk.
After Clarkson’s success last season, Liverpool clearly see Aberdeen as a club where their young talent can develop.
The hope will be that Williams, who has three years left on his Liverpool deal, will make as positive an impact as Clarkson.
Williams has started in English Premier League wins over clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal, and has started three Champions League group stage games for the Anfield club.
The defender should be well equipped to make a major impact in Europe and Scotland with the Dons.
Bojan Miovski closing in on return – and that’s major boost for Dons
Aberdeen striker Bojan Miovksi is on track to be fit for the first game of the season against Livingston on August 5.
Miovski has started running again having been sidelined with an ankle injury.
The striker hopes to return to full-training next week.
That is a major boost for the Dons.
Especially as Miovski recently said he was concerned he would be out for far longer and suffered sleepless nights worrying about the results of scans on his ankle.