The Dutch Eredivisie is well known in the footballing world for its ability and history of producing lots of young prospects and eventual superstars of the game. Part of this is due to Ajax. About 33% of Eredivisie players come through the world renowned Ajax young academy. Sensational players such as Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Denis Bergkamp, Ronaldo, Wesley Sneijder, Jaap Stam and Arjen Robben, to name a few, have started in the Dutch league early in their careers before moving to elite European teams. The Netherlands national team are a top nation and reached the 2010 World Cup Finals and although the Eredivisie is a good league for a great National Team a great domestic league doesn’t follow trend as teams can’t hold onto top prospects.
A few days ago I attempted to simply explain the player model I’m using to evaluate players. If you haven’t read it you can go here. I’ve used the model to analyse Eredivisie players in the last two seasons who have made the move to Premier League teams. This article to trying to show how the model doesn’t allow for difficulty of the respective league that the player has played in. That you have to take into consideration yourself. Some players can’t make the step up to the top league in the world.
In the summer of 2014 6 players left The Netherlands for England: Daley Blind, Siem De Jong, Daryl Janmaat, Dusan Tadic, James Davidson and Graziano Pelle. Here is the comparison of each player’s performance in the Eredivisie in the 2013/14 season and in the PL in 2014/15. You will see 4 comparisons because James Davidson is a youth player at West Brom with no senior caps and Siem De Jong played 147 minutes in the PL due to a series of unfortunate injuries.
2013/14 for Feyenoord
Pelle had a stand out season at Feyenoord with an impressive goal tally of 23 in a lot less minutes than he played at Southampton resulting in one of the best goals/90 stats in Europe (0.83). His creativity and playmaking side of the game isn’t the best but isn’t bad with middle of the range assists, through balls and key passes. His prolific shooting is clear in his top four stats that really stand out on his radar. He made next to no dribbles but with his style of play as a target man and playing layoffs he doesn’t need to dribble to still play well. This impressive season by the, at the time, 29 year old uncapped Italian would make me want to pick him up for a good price knowing that it could be a risk, but in my opinion a risk worth taking. A risk Ronald Koeman dared to test.
2014/15 for Southampton
Pelle’s debut season in the PL wasn’t what Saints fans would have hoped. For £8m he seemed like a good deal but didn’t flourish. I wouldn’t call him a flop because although he had a poor season 12 goals in the PL has to be respected. Graziano Pelle is a prime example of a player who was a great player in the Dutch league but couldn’t recreate it for Southampton.
2013/14 for Feyenoord
2014/15 for Newcastle
The Dutch full back made a good transition and played well in both countries. The only difference between his performances are his decrease in passing accuracy and increase in the number of players beating him on the dribble. The increase in players getting past him shows the better ability of PL attackers compared to Eredivisie strikers. Overall, Janmaat is a good player and made the change but it is evident he played better in the Eredivisie but only slightly so I doubt he nor Newcastle cares as he is still a good player.
2013/14 for FC Twente
2014/15 for Southampton
Another signing made by Ronald Koeman who thought he could bring players from where he had managed the previous season who performed well in the Dutch league hoping they could redo it in England. In Holland he was a superstar and had a fantastic season and is a player I would’ve definitely wanted to pick up if I was managing a PL side. For just under £11 million I would say thats good business by the Saints. His return in the 2014/15 season is respectable but not spectacular. He couldn’t recreate his goal scoring from Holland nor his assist rate or creativity in playmaking. He still had a good season and Saints fans will hope he can do even better this season. If the top radar had been done in one of England, Spain, Germany or Italy they would be a world class player, but the Eredivisie isn’t a top league and doesn’t mean as much. The two radars with their respective leagues show a player with the same ability but against tougher opposition in a league they’re not used to.
2013/14 for Ajax
2014/15 for Manchester United
Daley Blind had good seasons in both respective leagues. This model isn’t customised for full backs but I think the DM template works fine. Daley Blind for a defensive player clearly had two good seasons and even did slightly better in England in a few aspects of his game. Blind, for £14 million is an okay price for a full back for a team hoping to re-establish a world class team. He could clearly make the change and did well for Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal.
Six players have migrated from the Eredivisie to the PL this summer (so far): Jordy Clasie (Southampton), Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle), Cuco Martina (Southampton), Steven Berghuis (Watford), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea) and Memphis Depay (Manchester United).
Here are five of their radars. Nordfeldt doesn’t have one because he’s a goalkeeper and I haven’t developed one for them yet.
Other than Martina these 5 players had breakout seasons in Holland and were great performers. I’ve never heard of Berghuis before this research because I don’t follow the Eredivisie as much as I’d like but for £4.6 million Watford have got a great bargain and I hope the young winger can prosper at Watford. The other 3 players who played great are players I would want to pick up. Martina is a player I would have avoided. These sex players are now in question on whether or not they can make the transition. Whether they will or not is yet to be known and I will hopefully reevaluate them at the end of the 2015/16 season.
What it means for the Eredivisie
The Dutch league has a huge output of young players and although in the top 10 leagues in Europe they aren’t in the elite and nor do they have any real European contending teams. Every summer foreign clubs poach all of their best players and prospects. These issues I’ve raised in this article of the risk of buying Eredivisie players who are amazing but aren’t that good in the PL means that clubs shouldn’t and don’t want to pay much for these players. If they prosper in England and the risk pays off Dutch teams have been robbed. The Eredivisie will struggle to develop as a league because although they have lots of good clubs who invest in youth and practise FiPG because they are in the vicious circle of getting top players, selling them for okay prices and investing in new players for cheap. Yes they make a lot of profit but they can’t attract top players and can’t hold onto top players that they create. The Dutch league is a good league but stuck where they are in European rankings. To fix this they need to hold onto players and increase the league as a whole through reputation and revenue.