The departures of De Zeeuw, Jackson and Unsworth may have left a big hole in the experience levels of Chris Hutchings’ squad, but it’s a hole he’s looking to fill and the signs are that he’s looking at a different level of experience to do that.  Today’s signing of Mario Melchiot may not be earth shattering, but the Dutchman represents a further step forward in the progression of the squad.  

With time at Ajax and Chelsea under his belt, Melchiot is used to the bright lights of European football but his moves to both Birmingham and Rennes mean that he knows what it is like away from the limelight.  His time at St Andrew’s may not have ended in glory, but he had been instrumental in their relative success of the year before and in his one year in France he helped an unfashionable side to Fourth place in the league. 

If you have any doubts over Melchiot’s quality than a quick run through his suitors should go some way to soothing your concerns.  A host of French clubs, including champions Lyon and Marseille had shown an interest as well as some unnamed clubs in the Premier League, there was also the option of a move to Italy with both Rome clubs looking to do a deal.  It’s certainly an impressive list and it bodes well that he chose Latics over any of the clubs that have been mentioned.

Why did he make that choice?  Well, the offer of a three year contract will have helped but the official line is that he was impressed by our ambition and attracted by the extra effort the club made.

It also seems that Landzaat and Heskey played their part in convincing the Dutchman that Latics are ‘a great club to be at’.  Heskey shared a dressing room with Melchiot at Birmingham and he and Landzaat came through the much vaunted Ajax youth set up together.  It’s good to know that the new boy will be coming into a dressing room with familiar faces, but perhaps even more so good to see Landzaat have someone he can associate with on the books.

This looks like another good signing and one that will do team spirit no harm whatsoever.  Whether he’s a good enough player to make the difference is another matter, but whatever lies in store for Latics next season, it’s pretty certain that Melchiot will have been there and got the scars.  
A big “how do?” to you Mario, enjoy the pies.

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