In our first feature interview of the 2016/17 season speaking to one of our players developing out on loan, we caught up with midfielder Lewis Baker.
The 21-year-old has started his second year at Vitesse Arnhem with a bang having already scored four goals, his most recent against Twente on Sunday especially spectacular. Baker doesn’t want to stop there, though, and has high aims for the rest of the campaign…
Lewis, first of all, how’s it all going over there?
I’m really enjoying it and I’m enjoying my football too. That’s the most important thing for me at the moment – that and to get as much game time as possible.
Off the pitch I’m completely settled now. The area, the people, it feels like home because I’ve been here over a year.
What was your overall assessment of last season, when you got five goals in 35 games, and what was the thinking behind your return?
I did okay last year. I came back this season to be a more important player, to get more goals, more assists and to be more important for the team. Everyone knows Holland is a very technical league and it has really improved my skills, more than it has in other places I’ve been. I have kicked on.
I know I can still improve on all different areas of my game. That’s what I have come here to do. I really want to be more of an important player, and if I can improve every aspect of my game then the better chance I have. I want to be an all-round player.
"I will take a fantastic goal but I will also take any kind of goal! I want to score as many as I can, assist as many as I can."
What else have you learned playing regular competitive football?
I have improved a lot on the tactical aspect of the game since I have come to Vitesse, for example my positioning and where I need to be on and off the ball.
Can you detail what positions you have been playing at Vitesse?
Last season, the manager played me in all three central midfield positions – four, eight and 10. It was a bit mix and match. The new manager has seen more of my qualities and realises where I’m more dangerous, so I’ve been playing in the number eight position on the left of a midfield three where I get in the box, create and score goals as well.
What is the Eredivisie like as a league?
It’s a very good league. There’s a lot of young talent out here. There are also a lot of players who have played out here and moved on to the Premier League. If I keep going the way I’m going that’s one of my dreams I want to make come true.
The goals are flying in for you this season, you must be full of confidence…
I have scored a few goals, yeah. I will take a fantastic goal but I will also take any kind of goal! I want to score as many as I can, assist as many as I can. I work a lot on my finishing in training and at the moment it’s paying off.
It’s just the start of the season but I need to keep doing my best every day and keep improving so I can get back to Chelsea, where I’d like to be.
Tell us about the Toulon tournament this summer, where you finished top scorer and England won for the first time since 1994…
It was a great experience. The team chemistry was very good. We had a very good squad. It took all of us to win that competition, the manager rotated it and we had the strength in depth to win it.
For me personally it was a really good competition, I scored in each game I played in, and to win it in the style we did was great.
Because I’m out here it’s also always really nice to play with some of the Chelsea boys for England, like Ruben and Nathaniel, and that helps.
Andy Myers joined the coaching set-up at Vitesse in the summer. What’s it been like with him around?
He’s come in and brought new ideas to us from Chelsea. His experiences have helped a lot. The training sessions have been good and he’s been involved.
I have helped him out a bit with the way of life here – it’s a bit quieter than home but it’s good! Everybody speaks English so it’s easy for us.
Finally Lewis, what are your aims for this season, both on a personal level and collectively?
For me personally it is to get more goals, more assists and to be a big player for the team.
As a collective, we won our first cup match last week and we want to see how far we can go in the cup. That’s our best chance of winning a competition. In the league, we want to get a Europa League spot, definitely.
We’ve lost a few games this season narrowly. We were gutted with the Ajax loss because we thought as a team we played really well, made chances and were unfortunate. The last game against Twente was disappointing, we weren’t ourselves, but the good thing about football is there is always a chance to redeem yourselves.
- You can see Baker's wonder strike against Twente at the weekend in the highlights package below. The build-up to the goal starts around two minutes and 30 seconds in.