Something that has struck me over the last few years is that one of the favourite places for Premier League clubs is Holland, in terms of transfer deals. Each summer, when you look at the top scorers/assists for the previous season – those are the players that are snapped up pronto – and this summer is no different. Take a look over the last 4 summers:
14/15: Memphis Depay – 22 Goals, £25m to Man Utd // Georginio Wijnaldum – 14 Goals, £15m to Newcastle // Mark Uth – 15 Goals, £2m to Hoffenheim // T Chery – 15 Goals, Undisc to QPR (Add Luc Castaignos to Frankfurt too, although not in the top scorers this year).
13/14: Alfreo Finnbogason – 29 Goals, Undisc to Sociedad // Graziano Pelle – 23 Goals, £8m to Southampton // Dusan Tadic – 16 Goals 14 Assists, £11m to Southampton, Quincy Promes – 7 Goals, 8 Assists, £10m to Spartak Moscow
12/13: Wilfried Bony – 31 Goals, £13m to Swansea // Jozy Altidore – 23 Goals, £8m to Sunderland // Jermain Lens – 15 Goals, Undisc to Dynamo Kyiv // Dries Mertens – 16 Goals, Undisc to Napoli
11/12: Bas Dost – 32 Goals, Undisc to Wolfsburg // Luuk de Jong – 25 Goals, £12m to Moenchengdbach
Obviously it’s not just the forwards – there is huge list of players that have moved to bigger European leagues:
Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Nacer Chadli, Moussa Dembele and Toby Alderweireld have all moved to Tottenham over the last couple of seasons. Newcastle, on top of Wijnaldum have signed Siem de Jong, Daryl Janmaat, Vurnon Anita, Tim Krul and Cheik Tiote. Liverpool signed Luis Suarez from Ajax, while Man Utd have signed Depay, Blind any many more over the years. Southampton have signed Jordy Clasie this summer, as well as Tadic, Pelle and a few more. Marco Van Ginkel went to Chelsea after performing at Vitesse, and Nathan Ake was signed as a youth player. Arsenal do not have any recent additions – but have signed many youth players like Nacer Barazite – while the likes of Bergkamp and Overmars originated from Holland.
Outside of England – PSG have snapped up talents like Gregory Van der Wiel, Spartak signed Promes – the likes of Mertens, De Vrij went to Italy, Virgil Van Dijk signed for Celtic and will more than likely get a big move soon.
The reason why is that they adapt well – very few fail, and of those that do they are usually not Dutch – Bryan Ruiz, Mateja Kezman, Jozy Altidore and Afonso Alves are the main failures, while Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Luuk de Jong had a rough time in short spells.
The question is now – who next? There is a lot of talent brewing in the bigger teams – and here are my picks as to who will follow others to the bigger leagues:
Joel Veltman – Ajax centre back and a Holland international. Newcastle strongly linked to add to their Dutch legion, £10m likely to be the fee.
Anwar El-Ghazi – the skillful right winger is showing bags of ability, and in his first full season managed 9 goals in 31 league games. Another season and he will be snapped up, I’m sure of it!
Ricardo Van Rhijn – a very quick right back, similar to Van der Wiel. Great free kick on him and very strong on the ball.
Jetro Willems – this time a left back, the PSV star is an international and not far off outgrowing the league. Another I hope to see in the Premier League.
Tonny Vilhena – probably the highest rated Dutch youngster. Like Neymar, he has been earmarked as a star in the making for years now. Linked with a Dutch reunion with Ronald Koeman at Southampton – he will cost a few quid thats for sure!
Hakim Ziyech – the 22 year old Twente attacking midfielder has scored 22 league goals in 70 games – but it’s his creativity and pace that garners the interest of potential buyers. Incredibly gifted, he could well leave after this coming season. Should be up there in the goals and assists charts.
One I was going to mention was Zakaria Bakkali – the Belgian wonderkid who was expected to light up world football like Memphis Depay looks set to do, but he rejected a new deal and has gone to Valencia on a free transfer – so that is one to keep an eye on!
One of the best things about the league – the clubs don’t moan about being ransacked of their talent – they simply find more, nurture it and make them into players worthy of some of the biggest clubs in Europe. In Depay and Wijnaldum PSV have just lost their captain and top scorer, those two scored 36 goals in the league last season, a side that won the title and will play Champions League without their two main men who got them there. It will give the likes of Locadia a chance to shine, while Luuk de Jong will score plenty I’m sure of it.
They don’t just do Dutch either. Look at the players moved on – Serbian, Icelandic, Danish, Belgian etc – they have such good scouting setups that they spend peanuts getting in talented kids and simply develop them with new coaching techniques. With a little time and patience added into the mix, viola – first team players who are ready for the European giants. Some make the mistake of taking them too early – it seems the best option is to let them develop at home and get good game time.
People question the quality of the league, but these players can only beat what is put infront of them. The real test is when they get a move, and if you look at the facts, most do very well. If you want to see who your side might be signing next summer, keep a close eye on the Dutch leagues. Not only do you get a high quality calibre of player, you get value for money.
On the surface, it looks poor. Look deeper, and the quality is there to see!