Trent Sainsbury has only just been unveiled as PSV Eindhoven’s new signing and already he has a huge chance to establish himself as a key cog for the defending Dutch Eredivisie champions.
Led by former Caltex Socceroos assistant coach Mark van Bommel, Sainsbury’s new side are set kick off their domestic season this weekend — at home to Utrecht — before a crucial UEFA Champions League qualifying tie.
Key fixtures looming for Sainsbury, PSV
Van Bommel suffered a shootout loss in his first competitive game as head coach of the 24-time Dutch champions, and already his early words highlight the expectations that will be placed on Sainsbury and his teammates to deliver silverware this season.
“When you play a final, you should win it,” the former Bayern Munich and AC Milan midfielder said after Feyenoord pipped them to the Dutch Super Cup crown.
Sainsbury’s arrival was confirmed shortly after, with the Caltex Socceroos defender an option to come straight into PSV’s team as they prepare to back up their successes of last season.
Quickly approaching for the 26-year-old is a two-legged UEFA Champions League play-off tie (the opponent is yet to be decided), where PSV will have the chance to reach the group stage of Europe’s top club competition.
Competition for places at the heart of defence
There’s also the intriguing subplot at PSV as the club’s transfer situation sees Sainsbury at the heart of their plans for the new season.
Van Bommel name checked the former Central Coast Mariners defender in the aftermath of the Dutch Super Cup loss — publicly declaring his desire to reunite with the Aussie following their time together with the Caltex Socceroos.
PSV’s technical manager, John de Jong, also spoke of an imminent “flurry of moves in the transfer window” which saw the club sign Sainsbury — particularly as Dutch media has linked centre-back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin with a move to Besiktas.
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According to De Telegraaf, Sainsbury has been signed as an option to replace Isimat-Mirin in the heart of defence.
"I think I'm ready for a new step, but in close consultation with the club", Isimat-Mirin told French Foot Mercato in reference to talks he could leave PSV.
"There has been contact with Stade Rennes and Besiktas, but there are other interested clubs.”
In addition to the future of Isimat-Mirin, Sainsbury also comes into a strong list of defensive option for van Bommel, which includes fellow new arrival and three-time Dutch international Nick Viergever who arrives from arch rivals Ajax.
Former Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart centre back Daniel Schwaab — who made 31 appearances in the heart of defence last season — and youngster Derrick Luckassen are also players offering competition for places for Sainsbury at his new club.
PSV’s Aussie connection
Sainsbury won’t be the first Aussie to ply his trade at the Philips Stadion.
Like Sainsbury, Jason Culina joined PSV in his made twenties with the peak of his career ahead of him.
The former midfielder had broken through in the top flight of Dutch football at FC Twente but truly flourished after signing on with the Red and white.
Culina made his name as an attacking midfielder but his move to PSV saw him adopt a more defensive role. The Melbourne local’s 130 games across four seasons underlined his versatility and value to the Dutch heavyweights.
Archie Thompson made two substitute appearances for PSV when he joined on a six-month loan in January 2006.
The striker would link up with Pim Verbeek who was at the time Australia’s Head Coach in a bit to increase his match fitness for the World Cup.
Thompson’s former Melbourne Victory teammate Nathan Coe didn’t make a single appearance for PSV during his stint from 2004-2007, but the goalkeeper managed to clinch the 2006 Eredivisie title.
Sydney-born defender Lindsay Wilson was also on the books of the Eindhoven outfit, but failed to make a cameo from 2002-2006 and was instead sent on loans to Voldendam, Helmond Sport and Kilmarnock.