Chelsea loan ace Ian Maatsen explains his decision to move to Burnley amid interest from Feyenoord and the Premier League
The 20-year-old left back has developed a real affection for the Clarets since his switch from Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Maatsen, the fifth recruit of Vincent Kompany's tenure, has appeared in all-but five league games this term, helping the Championship leaders fashion a healthy advantage at the division's apex.
The Dutchman admitted that he received interest from the top flight during the off-season, but the lure of learning from a Premier League Hall of Famer, and getting the opportunity to play an idyllic brand of football, was just too tempting.
"This club has just come back from the Premier League, of course," said Maatsen. "Everything is a bit more professional. You notice that everyone is focused on a return to the highest level."
"I wanted to play at a club that competes for the top places, so with a different pressure. I also think an attacking style of play is important, then I can show myself best."
"This is exactly what I had hoped for when I chose Burnley. The secret behind our success? We really are a team. Everyone gives everything to each other."
Eredivisie outfit Feyenoord, where Maatsen started out as a seven-year-old, prior to allegedly being released for his stature, was another possible destination for the defender during the 2022/23 campaign.
Maatsen revealed that he'd had official talks with head coach Arne Slot over a potential move to De Kuip, but the 15-time champions, based in Rotterdam, reportedly demanded an 'option to buy' clause in his contract.
In a conversation with Football Zone, he said: "I thought it was great that Feyenoord wanted to bring me back, but my dreams are still in England. Many people point to European football, but for me it's about development.
"The interest was there, but a transfer was not as close as I read everywhere. I did have an official conversation with Arne Slot, that was by telephone.
"I explained to him honestly that I have a goal; I want to go to England succeed. When I finally chose Burnley I called him again, I thought that was so neat. He told me he appreciated that."
And he pinpointed the moment he realised that he wanted his development to continue at Turf Moor. "I had read rumours on the internet that the club wanted me, but I didn't know how serious that was," he continued.
"Suddenly I had Vincent Kompany on the phone, then you look up! To be honest, I didn't know that he was a trainer from Burnley, but he immediately indicated that he saw it in me.
"He also told about his plan of action and vision of football. When such a legend calls you personally, it makes an impression. I immediately asked Chelsea if I was allowed to go and see Burnley. When I got there it immediately felt good, that's why I made this choice."
The Netherlands Under 21 international, who was a member of his nation's UEFA European Under-17 Championship success in 2019, and scored in the final at the Tallaght Stadium in Dublin against Italy, is now desperate to record his first domestic triumph as a professional.
Maatsen, already with more than 70 appearances in English football to his name prior to his move in mid-July, having played for Charlton Athletic and Coventry City, has his eyes on the prize of a Championship title.
The Clarets have a point-point advantage over rivals Sheffield United, and have opened up a 16-point chasm over third place Watford, after winning seven games in succession in the second tier.
Maatsen has chipped in with four goals and as many assists while collecting a number of Man of the Match accolades along the way. Asked if the table-toppers could keep it up, he responded: "That would be very nice. We are in good shape, but now we have to make it happen. The supporters are very fanatical here, they really deserve that.
"There are still plenty of games to come. We have a lot to play for. With this team and this coach I enjoy every day at Burnley. Hopefully we will be holding the title soon."
Maatsen will report back to West London at the end of the season, and will no doubt seek clarity on his future from new Blues boss Graham Potter once he does return to SW6.
However, after staying in regular contact with team-mate and close friend Hakim Ziyech, who played a part in Morocco's World Cup heroics alongside Anass Zaroury, he now understands that the feedback from the outside is just as positive.
"They think I'm doing well and compliment me on my productivity," concluded Maatsen. "Chelsea sees that I'm growing. For now I'm focusing on Burnley, after this season we'll see how the cards are shuffled."