Following the influx of talent being imported to the Premier League from the Netherlands, I look at who could follow the likes of Memphis Depay and Jordy Clasie in moving to England from the Eredivisie.
10) Ryan Thomas – PEC Zwolle
Born and raised in New Zealand, Ryan Thomas’ story is an inspirational one. Thomas took a punt, bought a ticket and travelled to Holland for a trail with a club he had never heard of, PEC Zwolle. Two years later, Thomas is one of the brightest young talents in the Netherlands and a New Zealand international. Still only 20, Thomas is a hard-working industrious winger, who often runs opposition defences ragged.
Impressive displays in the Eredivisie have firmly cemented his place as a fan favourite. However, the Kiwi really made his name in the 2014 Dutch KNVB Cup final. Just 19 at the time, Thomas was an instrumental part of the PEC Zwolle team that thrashed favourites Ajax 5-1. The teenager scored twice and looked unplayable throughout.
If Thomas’ progression continues at the same rate, he is likely to become one of the greatest New Zealand footballers ever.
West Ham, Swansea, Newcastle
9) Terrell Ondaan – Willem II
Terrell Ondaan may not play for the biggest of clubs, however the 21-year-old certainly has a big future ahead of him. The winger was influential in newly promoted Willem II finishing ninth in the Eredivisie this season and looks likely to move on to bigger and better things sooner rather than later.
Having being released from AZ Alkmaar aged just 19, having yet to make a professional appearance, Ondaan was picked up by Willem II while they were playing in the second tier of Dutch football. His explosive pace and incredible dribbling skills ensured Willem II were crowned Champions of the Jupiler League. Ondaan was widely considered to be one of the shining lights of the 2013/14 season and even earned himself a call-up to the Netherlands Under-21s side.
Newly promoted Willem II took the Eredivisie by storm last season, with Ondaan being one of the first names on the team-sheet each week. The Youngster scored twice and assisted five goals, proving himself on the Netherlands’ biggest stage. With just a year left on his current contract, Ondaan could be available on the cheap, and there are likely to be plenty of suitors willing to snap him up.
West Brom, Sunderland, Leicester
8) Jean-Paul Boetius – Feyenoord
Rotterdam-born Boetius has been with Feyenoord since the age of six, meaning his debut against Ajax would have been an extra special moment for the winger, let alone scoring in it.
Then Feyenoord boss Ronald Koeman, now of Southampton, is a known admirer of his talent and made him a consistent starter aged just 18. During Koeman’s last season in Rotterdam, Boetius was his star man alongside Graziano Pelle. Although Pelle may have taken all the plaudits, the Italian striker owed many of his goals to the hard work and creativity of Jean-Paul Boetius.
Boetius claimed nine assists throughout the season, and scored a further 10. Still only 21, the left-winger has played for The Netherlands’ first-team once and was in the preliminary Dutch World Cup squad. He has also accumulated 12 caps for the Jong Oranje.
Boetius is one of the most exciting wingers in Dutch football and it won’t be long before the 21-year-old outgrows the Eredivisie and moves elsewhere. With Koeman recruiting Graziano Pelle and Jordy Clasie from Feyenoord, Boetius could be his next Eredivisie pursuit.
Southampton, Newcastle, Tottenham
7) Terence Kongolo – Feyenoord
As Ronald Koeman reverted from a back four to a back five, Kongolo found a place in Feyenoord’s defence as a left wing-back. Despite two years with only the odd substitute appearance, Kongolo has been a key member of the first team since the 2013/14 season.
A highly respected member of the Dutch International set-up, Kongolo has represented every team from Under-15s to senior level. Kongolo was part of the Netherlands team that won the 2011 U-17 European Championship, and his fantastic performances were noticed as he was named in the team of the tournament. The left-back was also part of Louis Van Gaal’s Dutch World Cup side, making a brief appearance against Chile.
There has been no shortage of interest in the young, versatile defender. Tested and approved by both Van Gaal and Koeman, two of the most highly respected managers in the game, Kongolo looks to have a bright future.
Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester United
6) Jasper Cillessen – Ajax
Many will remember this man as the goalkeeper Louis Van Gaal sacrificed for Tim Krul ahead of the penalty shootout in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica. However, it is worth noting that Cillessen was the number one goalkeeping choice throughout the tournament and was highly praised for his performances.
Cillessen only established himself as Ajax’s number one at the beginning of the 2013/14 season. Given his chance by Frank de Boer, the 26-year-old has since made his name as one of the best keepers in Europe.
As such, Cillessen has cemented his place as the Dutch stopper for a couple of years, earning 23 caps for the Oranje. His performances last season also saw him named as Ajax’s Player of the Year.
Despite his actions at the World Cup, Van Gaal is said to be a big admirer of Cillessen. Given the fact that De Gea only has a year left on his current deal, if he doesn’t make the switch to Real Madrid sooner, Cillessen is being touted as his potential replacement.
Manchester United, Liverpool
5) Hakim Zeyich – FC Twente
Statistically Zeyich tops most charts in the Eredivisie. Having moved from Heerenveen to FC Twente, the midfielder topped the Eredivisie assist chart, with a highly impressive 16 throughout the season. However, his industrious nature doesn’t stop there, as Zeyich also contributed 13 goals from midfield.
Zeyich is far from a one season wonder. The 22-year-old provided similar records during his time at Heerenveen the previous season. His move to FC Twente seemed to make sense, as Quincy Promes’ transfer to Russia left a large creative hole in the FC Twente side. However, Zeyich was not burdened by the responsibility and proved his maturity by stepping up to the mantel. Playing in the number 10 role, Zeyich reproduced his performances and then some last season.
Known for his technique, the 22-year-old is blessed with an eye for a killer pass. Add his free-kick ability, and Zeyich is one of the hottest properties in Holland, and a move to one of the bigger leagues can’t be far off.
Southampton, Tottenham, Stoke, Liverpool
4) Luciano Narsingh – PSV Eindhoven
Breaking on to the scene as a fresh faced 18-year-old at Heerenveen, Narsingh has been one of the best talents in the Eredivisie for some time. Following his move to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven, Narsingh has been a regular name for the Dutch national side, only missing out on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to an injury.
Now 24, he played a pivotal role in PSV’s title surge last season, helping them to their first title since 2008. Part of the champions’ 4-3-3 system, the Dutch international, used as a right winger, has the ability to deliver a pin-point cross which helped Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong score 22 and 20 goals respectively.
Narsingh found the back of the net six times last season, but it’s his unique ability to create a chance that he has come to be known for over the years, which he showed once again last season with 10 assists.
Unlike PSV’s heroes from last season, Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum, Narsingh has yet to move from the Philips Stadion. However, if Narsingh continues his progression, he could be the next name out of the door. His productive style of play would be a valuable asset to most Premier League sides.
Everton, Swansea, West Ham
3) Joel Veltman – Ajax
This young centre-back is one of the biggest defensive prospects in Europe. Just 23 years of age, Veltman has already shown a great deal of maturity in his performances for Ajax and the Netherlands national side. Showing leadership qualities in abundance, Veltman is already Ajax’s vice-captain.
In his breakout season, replacing the outgoing Toby Alderwiereld, Veltman’s form inspired rumours of interest from the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Renowned for his relaxed and safe style of defending, Veltman was ranked among the Eredivisie’s top six for passes per game and passing accuracy in 2013/14. However, it isn’t just his defensive capabilities that have caught the eye.
Veltman has a knack of turning defence into attack and loves to dribble the ball out from the back. Statistically speaking, Veltman is a significantly more efficient dribbler than Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus central midfielder Paul Pogba and Spurs’ Christian Eriksen. Whilst Ronaldo has a dribble success rate of 56%, Veltman’s success rate is a highly impressive 93%.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Veltman is a world-class talent – his abilities have been compared to the likes of Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany, and if his progression continues, he could be in their company sooner rather than later.
Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle
2) Jetro Willems – PSV Eindhoven
Willems is one of the hottest prospects in European football today. Playing along the same flank as new Manchester United signing Memphis Depay, Willems helped PSV Eindhoven to stroll to title success last season, collecting a spectacular 15 assists and 3 goals in all competitions.
Starting his career at Sparta Rotterdam in 2010, his performances earned him a move to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven where, as a 17-year-old, he was thrust straight into the first-team. Still only 21, Willems has accumulated over 100 appearances for PSV and has cemented the left-back spot in the national side.
Jetro Willems is a fantastic example of a modern day full-back – lightening pace mixed with pin-point crossing abilities and an appetite for a strong tackle, making him a coup for any side in the Premier League.
Most of his assists come from his best asset, which is crossing. His ability to swing in a cross with great power and precision has brought PSV a lot of goals via the head of Luuk De Jong. The PSV striker benefited from the sublime foot of Willems seven times throughout last season, which is the most assists from one player to another in the Dutch league. His excellent crossing has also given PSV a great offensive threat from corners and indirect free-kicks.
Willems certainly looks set for a move and has attracted interest throughout his career from some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Although only 21, the full-back has plenty of experience and his attacking abilities is always a favoured trait among the biggest clubs.
Back in 2013, Willems was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, with Sir Alex Ferguson said to be looking for ‘the next Patrice Evra’. The transfer failed to materialise, but it certainly won’t be the last time that Willems is linked with a top Premier League side.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham
1) Davy Klaassen – Ajax
Klaassen is just one of a long line of attacking midfielders produced by the Ajax academy, following the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van der Vaart and Christian Eriksen before him. Klaassen possess all the qualities necessary to emulate those great players and perhaps even better them.
Impresing from an early age, the 22-year-old has picked up an abundance of individual awards, such as the Dutch Football Talent of the Year 2014, and the highly coveted Ajax Talent of the Year, as well as three Eredivisie titles with Ajax.
It took just 42 seconds for Davy Klaassen to make an impact at the club, as he joined the likes of Johan Cruijff and Marco van Basten by scoring in his first competitive Ajax appearance. Due to injury, Klaassen was forced to wait until the 2013/14 season for a real break in the Eredivisie. However, he did not disappoint, finishing the season as Ajax’s joint top-scorer. Although Ajax struggled to keep up with runaway winners PSV this season, Klaassen still created 41 chances, collecting nine assists and scoring six times for the Amsterdam based club.
Klaassen’s ability to play in the hole or as a central striker has earned him a tag which will no doubt flatter the blonde number 10, with some labeling him as ‘the new Dennis Bergkamp’. Like Bergkamp, Klaassen has outstanding technique and control of the ball with an eye for goal. Quick thinking and gifted with great speed and intelligence, Klaassen could become the full package if he continues to improve at the same rate.
Despite being heavily linked with a move away, Klaassen has been made Ajax captain for the coming season and it therefore seems unlikely that he will leave this summer. However, it won’t be long before the midfielder outgrows the Eredivisie and follows the likes of Christian Eriksen and Siem de Jong to the English Premier League.
Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea