Which Jozy Altidore will show up this summer and next club season?

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When I wrote a few days ago that Jozy Altidore’s fantastic season for AZ Alkmaar has put him on a number of teams’ shortlists for this coming transfer window, a few readers stated they though Jozy would struggle in a higher profile league such as the English Premier League.

Whether you agree or not, store that thought for a moment.  We’ll come back to it.

Switching gears a bit, you may be aware of the New Jersey native’s recent struggles with the U.S. Men’s National Team.  If you’re not, a few tidbits to snack on:

  • Jozy Altidore has not scored for the U.S. National squad since November 15th, 2011 in a friendly against Slovenia.
  • He hasn’t assisted a goal since July 8th, 2011 against Canada.
  • He started his U.S. National career with 9 goals in 22 matches between 2007 and 2009.  Since then, he’s bagged just four in 27 matches

Given those numbers, it’s a bit bewildering how the 23-year-old managed such a torrid season in the Netherland’s Eredivisie, where he scored 23 goals in 33 league matches, plus another 8 goals in just 6 KNVB Cup matches.

He’s gained a much more central role at Alkmaar this season as well.  Last year (his first with the club), he made 34 appearances, 26 of them starts, but was subbed off in 21 of those.  This season, he made 33 appearances, but all of them were starts, and was only removed five times.

That brings us back to our original idea.  If Jozy moves to a new club – for argument’s sake, to Serie A or the Premier League, where attacking play is at a much lower rate than the Dutch league – will he revert back to recent national team Jozy? Or will he be able to translate his Eredivisie success cross-country?

Jurgen Klinsmann has put a clear focus and priority on defense with the U.S. squad, leaving players like Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan to somewhat fend for themselves up front.  Dempsey for sure and Donovan in the past have grasped the opportunity to take the lead in the attacking buildup as well as the finishing, but neither are pure strikers.  For Jozy, his sole job as a striker is to score, and he’s really struggled to do so as he matures as a player for the USMNT.

The conclusion that is likely to be reached here is that there are certain leagues that Jozy would thrive in, and certain ones he would not.  Heavily linked with Lazio of Italy’s Serie A, I believe that would be a poor choice for club and player.  The Bundesliga would be more suited to his abilities, as attacking play both through the middle and on the flanks is prolific.

Despite having the fewest goals-per-club this season of the four leagues I’ve discussed, the Bundesliga’s style of play was described as “adventurous” by Glenn Moore of England’s The Independent and that fits Jozy perfectly.  As a contrast, his pace would be somewhat wasted in Serie A, which is a much more slower yet physical league.

When he’s aggressive at the top and the target man, Jozy Altidore is at his best.  Will the team that acquires him realize that? Or will they use him to share the ball like he’s been the last few years on the national team?  It remains to be seen which Jozy the club scene will receive next year.

Or, for that matter, which Jozy the national team will see this upcoming summer? With few options up front, they need him to bring his spectacular Dutch form back home with him.