With Manchester United recently confirming the big money signing of Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven for a fee in the region of £25-30 million, the world’s attention has turned to Holland’s Eredivisie. Memphis Depay looks capable of setting the Premier League alight next season, and he may not be the only flying young Dutchman we see gracing the Premier League over the next few seasons. Here we take a look at the men who may well follow in Depay’s footsteps, and make the step up to the Premier League.
Jetro Willems, 21, PSV Eindhoven
At the tender age of 18 years old, Willems became the youngest player to ever compete at the European Championships when he represented the Dutch in their disastrous campaign of 2012 which ended at the group stages. Since then however, the defender has developed into one of the most promising full-backs in European football, aiding his club to their first Eredivisie title in 7 years, and a return to Europe’s elite competition. Although solid at the back, it is going forward where Willems’ stats are most impressive. In the mould of Patrice Evra, Willems has bombed up and down the Eindhoven wing all season, contributing 12 Eredivisie assists in only 29 appearances, a staggering return for a defender. Borussia Monchengladbach outcast, Luuk De Jong, has flourished back in his homeland, and this is partly courtesy of Willems laying on 7 goals for the striker, and it seems that the full-back has the ability to get the best out of his colleagues. A number of clubs around the Premier League would benefit from a player of Willems’ undoubtedly quality, attacking full-back play. Willems certainly possesses the ability to compete at the top end of the Premier League, and with PSV securing Champions League football for the 2015-16 season, it would appear that Willems would only be willing to depart for a club that may also offer this prize. With Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov failing to secure regular starting berths in the Manchester City defence, Manuel Pelligrini may look to the Eredivise to bolster his back-line, and Willems would fit the bill perfectly.
Joël Veltman, 23, Ajax
A player with bags of potential who has slipped under the radar this season due to his side’s feeble defence of their title is Ajax’s Joël Veltman. The strong centre half has performed well over the course of the season, and with an average WhoScored.com rating of 7.60, it would appear that Veltman’s consistency would suit the rigorous weekly demands of the Barclays Premier League. Having progressed through the famous Ajax youth system, which has produced legends of the game such as Frank Rijkaard, Macro Van Basten and Clarence Seedorf, Veltman finds himself alongside an extremely notable pedigree of players, and has big shoes to fill if he is to surpass the levels set by his predecessors. At the age of 23, Veltman is still young, and may well look to complete one more year in his homeland before making a big money move abroad, but if a big team were to come in for the player then a transfer would be hard to turn down, and Veltman may look to try his hand with one of the Premier League’s smaller sides before a move to those pursuing the title. With Toby Alderweireld’s future looking increasingly uncertain at Southampton due to Atletico Madrid keen on the player returning from his loan spell with the club, coach Ronald Koeman, who is also an Ajax academy graduate, may well look to take a gamble on the commanding defender. Under the guidance of his compatriot, it may only take a season in England before the Premier League big boys come knocking for the player.
Jordy Clasie, 23, Feyenoord
Baby faced Dutch international, Clasie, has experienced a meteoric rise to stardom. A popular player with the fans due to his hard-working nature, the 23 year old now captains his club, and looks to have led his team into the Europa League this season, with his side sitting in the competition’s qualifying places with only one game of the Eredivisie season remaining. A holding midfielder by trade, Clasie pulls the strings in the Feyenoord midfield, and after a consistent season in the middle of the park which saw a return of 2 goals and 5 assists in 30 league games, Clasie looks set for a bright future in the game. Having signed a contract in 2014 that would see the player remain in Rotterdam until 2018, Clasie appears to be in no rush to leave the club, declaring ‘I feel I can improve even more at Feyenoord’. Perhaps one more year with his boyhood club would see the player reach the heights required by Premier League football, and allow the player to mature into a class act. An example of this was set by Kevin Strootman before him, who benefited from one more season in Holland with PSV Eindhoven when linked with other clubs, before a move to Italian giants Roma. A deep lying play maker is highly sought after in the English game, with a number of clubs crying out for such a player. Southampton are one such club to have been linked to the player, with Ronald Koeman possessing a keen eye for those competing in his homeland. North London may be another possible destination for Clasie, with Arsenal’s midfield lacking the bite to compete for the title, and Tottenham’s floundering in their attempt for a top 4 finish. Clasie would certainly add bite and creativity to a Premier League midfield, and this summer may well see Feyenoord receive bids for the classy midfielder.
Georginio Wijnaldum, 24, PSV Eindhoven
Having captained his PSV side to the title, Wijnaldum has been on the Eredivisie scene for a number of years. Having made his debut for home town club Feyenoord at the tender age of 16, making him the club’s youngest ever player, Wijnaldum has gone on to represent his country at full international level, and scored the third goal in Holland’s 3rd place thrashing of Brazil at the 2014 World Cup. Deployed in the heart of PSV’s midfield this season, Wijnaldum also possesses the pace and power to succeed on the wing, but his role in the middle has seen a phenomenal return for the play maker. Wijnaldum has registered an impressive 14 Eredvisie goals this season, and alongside Memphis Depay and Luuk De Jong, has fired his club to the title. The captain has led by example, and his performances have attracted the attention of a number of English clubs in recent months, including Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. The press’ belief that Van Gaal will sign every Dutchman he can this summer has continued with Wijnaldum, but there may be basis to this story, with the player admitting that he would like to work with the Manchester United manager again. However, with the raid for Depay all but finalised, it remains to be seen whether PSV would be willing to allow another of their prized assets to walk away from the club. But with cash available to the Manchester club this summer, PSV have already succumbed to one big money offer, and another may well prove to be too tempting for the PSV board to ignore. With the money accrued from the sale of Depay, PSV can build a side capable of retaining the title for a number of years. Add the money they may receive for Wijnaldum, and PSV may well dominate Dutch football for years to come.
Hakim Ziyech, 22, FC Twente
Having burst onto the national scene this season, the young Dutchman of Moroccan decent has surprised many with his impressive performances. Ziyech has been a bright spark in a poor year for Twente, with the club finishing closer to the relegation places than the illustrious European spots. Despite this, Ziyech has directly contributed to an incredible 24 goals in only 30 Eredivisie games, providing goals and assists in abundance for his side. The pacey forward is famed in Holland for a tasty left boot, finding the net with a range of finishes, including an audacious lob in a 2012 match for Herenveen against RKC Waalwijk. Not only does he have the ability to finish, but his assists this season showcase his ability to create, with a number of Twente goals coming from Ziyech’s inviting set pieces. Ziyech is quickly establishing himself as a master of the dead ball situation, a trait deemed extremely desirable by Premier League scouts. Comfortable on the ball, Hakim Ziyech would be a worthy addition to any Premier League unit, and it won’t be long before clubs across the continent are queueing for the players signature. One club to be linked to the player in recent years is Everton, but the player opted to remain in Holland with Twente after the expiration of his Herenveen contract. Similarly to the other players in this article, Ziyech runs the risk of leaving the nest too early, and stagnating his career on the bench of a Premier League side. With money to spend after the departure of Depay, it would be no surprise to see PSV swoop for the u21 international, but they face competition from great enemy, Ajax, who will be looking to rebuild after allowing their rivals to breeze to the title this season. Although it is unlikely that we will see Ziyech plying his trade in England next season, it is only a matter of time before the true potential of this player is unleashed, and big money is spent to bring Ziyech to the Premier League. Watch this space.
The current crop of young Dutch stars have the world at their feet, and we may well be experiencing the beginning of a new era in Dutch football to rival the great Oranje sides of yesteryears. A number of exciting players are emerging from the Eredivisie, and with the league perfect for nurturing raw talent, it will not be long before these young Dutchmen are dazzling stadia across England, and competing for trophies at the highest levels of European football.