Preston fans may have forgotten the name Melle Meulensteen – despite some frustration at his departure.
Meulensteen joined North End from the Manchester United ranks in 2014, and featured regularly for the Preston youth side as a midfielder. In Alex Neil’s first pre-season at the club, Meulensteen featured in first-team friendlies, giving hope that he would make the step up.
The Dutchman – son of Rene Meulensteen – looked set for a bright future, but was surprisingly let go in January 2018. His contract was terminated, and a host of fans were baffled given his potential.
Boss Neil attempted to explain, telling the LEP that Meulensteen’s first-team prospects were the key. Meulensteen wasn’t pushing for the North End first team, and was even struggling to play on loan at Lancaster City.
Meulensteen went back to the Netherlands, joining second tier RKC Waalwijk. He played a key role in their promotion last season, playing 39 games in all competitions – but maybe not where people would expect.
A technical midfielder at Preston, Meulensteen has been converted to a centre back at Waalwijk. Learning alongside a veteran in Henrico Drost, Meulensteen has reinvented himself away from Deepdale.
Now playing regularly in the Dutch top flight, Meulensteen faced PSV Eindhoven on Sunday. The European giants were expected to coast to victory, but Meulensteen gave them a scare.
The 20-year-old scored the opener for Waalwijk, his first Eredivisie goal. Sadly, Waalwijk fell to a 3-1 defeat, conceding three times in the second half.
Meulensteen wasn’t completely solid, and was beaten too easily by Mohammed Ihattaren for the equaliser. Still, to be playing at that level in an unnatural position, Meulensteen has shown great ability as well as adaptability.
Meulensteen’s career appears to be on the up after leaving Preston, and whilst some may be frustrated by his exit, it’s seemingly worked out perfectly for the player.