When I was writing about Davy Klaassen’s transfer to Everton from Ajax, someone suggested that I should also see whether his transfer is going to be a hit like Suarez or a flop like Janssen. I thought it was a good idea and decided to look at the transfers in detail. While predicting whether Klaassen will be a Suarez or a Janssen is not possible for me but we can look at the trends and characteristics of transfers from different foreign leagues into the English Premier League and try to guess how some of the vaunted transfers of the upcoming transfer window could pan out.
Since the idea came from an Eredivisie to Premier League transfer and as I had already done some research into these, I am starting with the Dutch league and not with any of the other big four leagues. While it is likely that among the players bought from other big leagues – La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 – there are more hits than misses, Eredivisie has also been a pretty decent source for Premier League clubs to tap into.
For this and subsequent analyses in this series, I am using data from Transfermarkt.com. I will be looking at transfers in the current decade i.e. from 2010 till date but excluding players who are moving in this summer window, as there are no performances from them for us to analyze yet. I am also looking at transfers only and loan returnees, as well as a handful of free transfers are not included.
Having set the context, let us get the analysis started. First, let us look at the overall transfer flows.
17 Premier League clubs have signed 39 players from Eredivisie over the last seven seasons. In these seven seasons, 2013-14 saw the most number of arrivals (9) from the Dutch league, while 2011-12 saw the minimum number of arrivals – only two. After the 2013-14 season, which saw some good players such as Christian Eriksen being signed, the Premier League clubs have been recruiting 5-6 players from Eredivisie.
Now let us look at the clubs who have signed players from the Dutch league in seven years.
Southampton, Swansea and Newcastle United lead the group of clubs that have signed Eredivisie players, with all three having signed five players each. Among the top six teams, Tottenham have signed four, Manchester United three, Liverpool two and Chelsea one. What is interesting is that of the seventeen clubs, nine clubs that signed an Eredivisie player in last seven seasons, have ended up getting relegated at least once. I am sure this has nothing to do with the Dutch league’s quality as a league but more to do with what relegation threatened clubs in Premier League can pay. The other top European leagues may have better players or at least command more premium and hence the lower half of the Premier League probably looks to sign players from smaller leagues. It is an interesting thought and possibly will result in a separate post.
For now, let us look at what these Premier League clubs have been paying their Eredivisie counterparts for their players.
Here we see that Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs lead in average amounts (in € million) paid to the Dutch teams. This is because of the transfers of Depay, Suarez, and Eriksen respectively. When we look at this chart keeping the previous one in perspective, we find that not only do the relegation threatened clubs buy a lot from Eredivisie but they also buy cheaper players. It poses an interesting question for these smaller clubs – should they continue to target lesser talent in a relatively smaller league or should they try to get better players from even smaller leagues. No easy answer to that one.
One last analysis from the data that I did was regarding the positions that these 39 players played in.
Premier League clubs signed eleven midfield players from defensive to advanced midfielders, eight full-backs, eight wingers, but only five center forwards and central defenders. Not too much of an insight here, other than the fact that one of those eleven midfield players, was the late Chieck Tiote, who would have celebrated his 31st birthday today. RIP.
Having taken a look at some of the transfer attributes, we can take a look at some of the hits and flops out of these 39 players. Due to time limitations, I am sticking to players I know about and you might easily think of a player or two who ought to be in one of the groups below or who is misclassified.
Three completely undebatable hits among these players are Luis Suarez, Christian Eriksen, and Jan Vertonghen. All three came and gradually became the first-choice players in their respective positions for their clubs. Suarez arrived in January 2011, captured the imagination of Liverpool fans for 3 years and left for Barcelona. Before the rise of Dele Alli, Eriksen was the primary creative outlet for Spurs, while Vertonghen has emerged as a leader in the defense at White Hart Lane.
It is debatable but we could include names such as Mousa Dembele, Daley Blind, and Georginio Wijnaldum in the list of big hits. They definitely are important players for their clubs but still not in the category of the first three.
I am inclined to include almost all of the Newcastle and Southampton signings in this group, as these players have served their clubs quite ably before fetching large transfer profits for their clubs. Memphis Depay is another player, I will have to include in this group although his French fans will consider him to be a big hit and Jose Mourinho thinks he was a major flop. I feel that had he been given time, he would have proven to be a good player for United.
A few certain flops include Vincent Janssen, Viktor Fischer and Oussama Assaidi. The first two are center forwards that Spurs and Boro signed last year but they could not help their teams a lot when they were called upon. Assaidi was signed by Liverpool in the 2012-13 season but he rarely contributed to any of their Premier League campaigns.
Now, to predict where would Everton’s new Eredivisie import – Davy Klaassen fit among these three groups is not possible at least at present. May be some time later in the season it might be worth an exercise indulging in. For now, we can say that his pricing and also his stats suggest that he will improve Everton. Also, almost none of the players that Koeman signed from Eredivisie can be called flops.
I will follow this post up with similar analyses on other leagues. Hope you enjoy them!