Once known as the league that reared Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp, the Eredivisie has long been relegated to the sidelines of European football, as UEFA coefficients dictate under-representation in the Champions League.
Yet again, teams from the ‘big five’ – the top flights of England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy – enjoyed the best survival rate from the group stages of 2018/19. However, Ajax’s run to the semi-finals served as an inspiration, to any overshadowed club that has the desire to once more make its name global.
Ajax were also just barely a minute away from making the final, and in eliminating Real Madrid and Juventus in successive rounds prior to that, there is more proof than ever that raw talent and hunger can still humiliate even the most expensively-built squads.
Of course, as is the curse of a club that has a great reputation for youth development, top talents often depart after a particularly strong season in the Eredivisie, most commonly to the Premier League or La Liga in the present era.
Capital Gains for European Giants
With Frenkie De Jong recently defecting from Ajax to Barcelona for 75m Euros, this summer will clearly be no different, as the men from the Dutch capital not only reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, but also won the Eredivisie with insulting ease.
The club remains a victim of its own success, and there were big performances across the park throughout the season just gone. At the back, defender Matthijs De Ligt showed maturity beyond his mere 19 years, marshalling older peers with an iron will very reminiscent of Jaap Stam in his prime.
In that context, it is very unsurprising to see Manchester United boss Solskjær – a teammate of Stam’s in the treble-winning season of 1998/99 – take a very profound interest in De Ligt, who recently earned a runners-up medal in the inaugural UEFA Nations League final.
Further down the pitch, Premier League veteran Dusan Tadic enjoyed a new lease of life in attack, looking every bit as lethal as the man who fired Southampton to successive top-seven finishes and an EFL Cup final in the mid-2010s. His performances suggest that another shot at the English top-flight is well worth considering, with age clearly still not an issue for him.
There was, however, but one player who stole the spotlight, and as covered here in this betting blog Hakim Ziyech is now one of Europe’s most wanted. While he tailed off towards the end of the season, his positional nous, dead eye for goal and extraordinary sense of vision are but a selection of the characteristics that gives the Moroccan international the possibility of becoming truly ‘world class’.
Eredivisie Revival Bigger Than Ajax
Ziyech has already been linked to Bayern Munich and Arsenal, both of which have the financial clout required to prise him away from the Johan Cruyff ArenA. For other clubs though, offering the likes of Ziyech and De Ligt what they deserve simply isn’t a possibility.
That said, the Premier League is insanely rich, making these five Eredivisie stars ‘fair game’ for just about anyone.
Hirving Lozano (PSV)
The 2018 World Cup did not fail to fuel the transfer rumour mill, and Hirving Lozano was linked to just about every notable club across several European top-flight leagues over that summer. Lozano’s performances for Mexico were sensational during the tournament, but he stayed at then-champions PSV.
The 2018/19 Eredivisie season saw him net 17 times in 30 league appearances, and a potential £40m move to Old Trafford has been mooted. However, it seems as though there will be a lot of compromising and negotiating before pen gets put to paper. Alternative destinations (PSG and Napoli) also exist.
Luuk De Jong (PSV)
De Jong ended his most recent season in Eindhoven with a real flourish, netting in six consecutive league matches. While history is not on De Jong’s side, with the Dutchman having previously flopped in the Bundesliga and Premier League, he is now older, wiser and in the prime of his career.
After ending his personal Tyneside hell in 2014, three of his five seasons at PSV Eindhoven have seen him erupt into a one-in-two striker at domestic level, with four of them seeing him score at a rate of over one goal every three Eredivisie games.
Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord)
Speed and counter-attacking has been the key to any Premier League success lately, with Manchester City and Liverpool being unmatched masters of the art over the last two years. While not the fastest runner, Berghuis more than makes up for any shortcomings with a ferocious shot and excellent ball control.
While he did not hit the heights of 2017/18 (18 goals, 31 appearances) last season, 12 goals in 33 is still respectable for a wide player. PSV appear to be the best contenders for his signature in the event of any move, and while there have been no other links of note, he would undoubtedly be a solid addition to any team with realistic aspirations of winning the Europa League.
Adrian Dalmau (Heracles)
Aside from tenuous links to Villarreal of La Liga, Dalmau does not seem to be on the radar of any Premier League clubs – yet. The 25-year old forward netted 19 times in 33 Eredivisie appearances during 2018/19, and made an exceptional step-up from the Spain’s second tier, with his goals doing much to grant Heracles a three-place improvement over the course of a year.
However, Heracles’ resounding failure to prevail in the European qualification playoffs, with a resounding 5-0 aggregate defeat to eventual winners Utrecht, will likely see his head more easily turned by a Premier League club seeking a relatively off-radar bargain.
Martin Ødegaard (Vitesse / on-loan from Real Madrid)
Practically signed by Real Madrid as a neonate, the Norwegian midfielder who promised so much has still yet to truly ‘find home’.
While Real Madrid endured one of its worst and most disappointing seasons yet in 2018/19, there still appears to be room for only established talents in the squad, who have the experience and psychological steel necessary to drag the thirteen-time European champions off the proverbial canvas.
Another loan spell looks likely for Ødegaard, who enjoyed his most fruitful season to date, netting nine times in 35 league appearances for Vitesse.
The Arnhemmers could not have envisaged finishing in a European playoff berth without him, and his place in the starting midfield of Eredivisie’s official ‘Team of the Season’ is well-warranted, and provides him with the momentum necessary to make a success of any venture into the Premier League – however fleeting it may be.
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