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Eredivisie wonderkids: De Ligt, De Jong & 15 Under-21 talents to watch

23:00 GMT 19/11/2018
De Ligt De Jong split
The Ajax pair are dominating transfer rumours, but they are not the only exciting youngsters excelling in the Netherlands' top flight

With Ajax's Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt heavily linked to the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City, the Eredivisie has been thrown into the limelight in recent months.

The pair spearhead an exciting new generation in Dutch football, but they are well-backed by a whole host of young compatriots and still just a drop in the bucket of talent in the Netherlands' top flight.

From the top of the table right down to the bottom, from the Netherlands to Brazil and even Japan, here are 15 rising stars in a league where its trust in youth continues to be justified.

  • Steven Bergwijn PSV Eindhoven

    Steven Bergwijn (PSV, 21)

    It’s no surprise that PSV have a perfect record in the league this season as, in addition to Hirving Lozano’s contributions on the opposite wing, Steven Bergwijn has provided five goals and six assists. The skilful 21-year-old is a fantastic dribbler with incredible pace, all attributes that have earned him his first senior caps for the Netherlands and links with Liverpool and Manchester United.
  • Matthijs de Ligt Ajax

    Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, 19)

    Matthijs de Ligt’s name will be familiar to many as it’s one linked with Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona. The 19-year-old centre-back is a brilliant reader of play, a strong tackler and has an aerial presence that proves effective at both ends of the pitch. Mature beyond his years with technical ability that is typical of any Dutch defender, De Ligt is expected to earn his big-money move sooner rather than later.
  • Ritsu Doan Groningen

    Ritsu Doan (Groningen, 20)

    Groningen desperately gathered together the funds to make Ritsu Doan’s loan deal permanent in the summer, and it’s clear to see why. The creative midfielder, who is also effective out wide, scored nine times and provided three assists in his debut season and, with Manchester City having shown an interest, it seems unlikely the Dutch club will keep their star man much longer.
  • Kasper Dolberg Ajax

    Kasper Dolberg (Ajax, 21)

    Recruited to Ajax by the same man who brought in Christian Eriksen and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kasper Dolberg is a ruthless finisher with excellent technique. His ability was abundantly clear in his 16 goals across 2016-17, before the Dane lost his place, and his confidence, last term. Dolberg is looking back to his best again though, despite injuries in pre-season, with five goals in five starts this year.
  • Pablo Rosario PSV Eindhoven

    Pablo Rosario (PSV, 21)

    Marco van Ginkel’s return to Chelsea was a huge blow for PSV this summer, but Pablo Rosario has shown that every cloud has a silver lining by stepping up to fill the former loanee’s boots. The 21-year-old’s breakthrough into the first team is helped by his versatility, being able to play a number of midfield roles and even in defence, but he does need to add goals to his game to complement the combative traits that make his potential as a box-to-box midfielder so great.
  • Frenkie de Jong Ajax

    Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, 21)

    Amidst Barcelona interest, most have compared Frenkie de Jong to Sergio Busquets, but the 21-year-old also has many attacking attributes on top of his defensive capabilities, the latter of which make him a reliable centre-back when needed. De Jong can slice open any defence with a perfect pass and is a superb dribbler, skills which have been more prominent this season in his preferred central midfield role.
  • Tyrell Malacia Feyenoord

    Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord, 19)

    Giovanni van Bronckhorst insisted that Calvin Verdonk would be Feyenoord’s first choice left-back this season, but Tyrell Malacia has impressed enough to change his mind. The teenager has been on the bench for the last few games, but his great athleticism, defensive know-how and quick feet have resulted in more appearances than the aforementioned Verdonk while giving the manager plenty of food for thought, even if he can still develop plenty in the final third.
  • Donny van de Beek

    Donny van de Beek (Ajax, 21)

    Competition for places in midfield at Ajax could not be much greater, but Donny van de Beek could not be doing much more to prove his worth in the chances he is being given. The youngster makes up for a lack of pace with great reading of the game, has the passing ability you would expect of an Ajax academy product and also has an eye for goal – with four this season.
  • Angelino PSV Eindhoven

    Angelino (PSV, 21)

    The youngster signed for Manchester City aged 16 but left to join PSV in the summer after just two senior appearances and four loan spells. A left-back who can also play further forward, Angelino’s attacking talents are evidenced in his three assists this season, but he is also an astute defender. Despite playing in a dominant side, he is averaging 2.4 tackles per game.
  • Kik Pierie Heerenveen

    Kik Pierie (Heerenveen, 18)

    Kik Pierie only turned 18 in July, but the American-born, Netherlands youth international is already approaching 50 league appearances for Heerenveen. A great reader of play, tenacious tackler and composed passer, Pierie has worked hard on developing his strength to improve his game in the last year and is reaping the rewards in the centre of defence.
  • Calvin Stengs AZ Alkmaar

    Calvin Stengs (AZ Alkmaar, 19)

    After suffering a cruciate ligament injury at the beginning of last season, Calvin Stengs returned to first-team action earlier this month and both he and AZ Alkmaar will hope he can get back to his best despite over a year out. At 19 years old, the winger still has time on his side to make good on the incredible potential he shows, drawing comparisons to Arjen Robben for the way he cuts inside and finishes so perfectly.
  • Justin Bijlow Feyenoord

    Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord, 20)

    After making his first senior appearances last term, Justin Bijlow has now established himself as Feyenoord’s new number one, displacing the experienced Kenneth Vermeer. He’s already made a name for himself as a superb shot-stopper with his exploits for the Netherlands at the UEFA Under-19 Championship, and the 20-year-old complements those reflexes with the technical ability at his feet that every modern goalkeeper needs.
  • Donyell Malen PSV Eindhoven

    Donyell Malen (PSV, 19)

    Donyell Malen has only made one start in the league for PSV this season, but he’s proven himself an excellent option off the bench with three goals and two assists in 12 appearances. The former Arsenal youngster can play out wide or as a centre forward, with his ambidextrous finishing, electric pace and sheer directness making him a defender’s worst nightmare.
  • Myron Boadu AZ Alkmaar

    Myron Boadu (AZ Alkmaar, 17)

    AZ Alkmaar were dealt a huge blow when Myron Boadu suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out until the new year, but they know that won’t affect him upon his return. The teenage forward, who can play all across the front line, missed all but one month of last season with knee ligament damage, but scored six goals for Jong AZ when he came back and had totted up three goals and two assists from five first-team starts before his latest injury.
  • David Neres Ajax

    David Neres (Ajax, 21)

    After contributing 14 goals and 13 assists from the right wing last season, David Neres has been playing a more central role for Ajax this term, adding versatility to a long list of excellent strengths which already includes quick feet, composure in the final third and a rare will to track back. As a result, he hasn’t been as prolific so far this year, but his performances have been excellent and shown off the clever footballing brain he possesses.