The next Van Dijk? 10 Dutch youngsters who could be stars

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After the Netherlands international's £75 million move to Liverpool, Goal takes a look at the next Dutch stars tipped for big things

Although their game is struggling to compete with the world's best at international and club level, Netherlands have shown they are still producing players capable of reaching the top of the game after Virgil van Dijk became the most expensive defender in history,

The £75 million Liverpool paid to sign the centre-back from Southampton generated a lot of debate, with many insisting the Reds had overpaid. 

But the 26-year-old will certainly boost a defence in need of strength and stability and got off to a great start with a debut goal in the FA Cup win over Everton.

Van Dijk's journey to the top has come as no surprise to those who watched him excel at the beginning of his career with Groningen, playing a key role as the Eredivisie side challenged for a place in Europe.

It serves as a reminder that bright talents are still blossoming in the Netherlands, and here  Goal  takes a look at some youngsters tipped for big things.


FRENKIE DE JONG | AJAX


Frenkie de Jong, Ajax, Eredivisie 12142017

He has made just 21 Eredivisie appearances for Ajax, but Frenkie de Jong is already seen as one of Netherlands’ brightest prospects. The Amsterdam side moved quickly to extend his contract to 2022 after his impressive displays in the centre of midfield.

New coach Erik ten Hag will likely make good use of the Netherlands Under-21 international, who is expected to play a key role in the club's future

He is only just securing his place in the starting XI, but he has even convinced his opponents that he is on his way to stardom, as PEC Zwolle star Ryan Thomas sang his praises recently.

"Recently I saw an Ajax game, and I was busy with Frenkie de Jong for 90 minutes," he told Voetbal International .

"He's three years younger than me, but so incredibly good, and he'll one day play at Barcelona or Real Madrid.

"You could now ask me how David Neres or Justin Kluivert played that game, but I have no idea, I only watched Frenkie.

"How he walks, how he turns, where the space is. He's the youngest on the field, but everyone gives him the ball, that is the greatest compliment for a footballer."


PERR SCHUURS | AJAX


Perr Schuurs, Fortuna Sittard, 12152017

It has been just over a year since he made his professional debut at the age of 16, but Perr Schuurs has already taken over as captain of Fortuna Sittard and earned a big move to Ajax.

The centre-back has enjoyed an incredible rise and has even been hailed as "the future of Dutch football" by ex-Ajax coach Henk ten Cate after seeing him in a friendly last summer.

"I did not know what I saw. He had everything," he added.

The armband was given to him at the start of this campaign and he has continued to look flawless for a side who have made it to the top of the table under Sunday Oliseh.

He has already scored five times in 17 league displays this season, including an incredible free-kick against RKC Waalwijk.

Ajax and PSV had already been lurking and the Amsterdam side soon lured him with a contract until 2022.

He will spend the remainder of the season with his hometown team, though, allowing Fortuna fans to enjoy the exploits of a special talent in their colours for a bit longer.


KIK PIERIE | HEERENVEEN


A young talent determined to reach the top, Kik Pierie is proving he has the talent to back up his ambitions as a regular starter for Heerenveen at just 17.

The centre-back, who is the son of former Netherlands international hockey player Jean-Pierre Pierie, has only made 19 appearances for the Eredivisie side, but he does not expect to be there for too long.

"It would be nice to play at a big club in the Champions League one day. Now I am focusing on Heerenveen. It's great that I play so many Eredivisie matches at my age," he told Leeuwarder Courant .

"I've renewed my contract with the club this year until 2020, but perhaps a dream club will come over with a good plan. I have no idea how long I will stay at Heerenveen."

A quick defender who is comfortable on the ball, Pierie is one of Heerenveen's top passers this season and is already making appearances for Netherlands Under-19s.


MATTHIJS DE LIGT | AJAX


Matthijs de Ligt Ajax

A Europa League finalist at the age of 17, Matthijs de Ligt has been making quite the name for himself across the continent, despite making his Ajax debut just over a year ago.

The classy centre-back has made himself a mainstay in the heart of the defence and is developing well in a promising side.

Already a three-time Netherlands international, the 18-year-old is gearing up for a fantastic career and is said to have attracted interest from Barcelona among other top European sides, but he insists he has no interest in leaving any time soon.

"It’s a nice compliment, they are one of the biggest clubs in the world," he told Het Parool , "But as long as it is a rumour, I don’t think about it."

Such a big move may be premature at the moment, but it looks certain that De Ligt will be on the receiving end of some big offers in the future.


DONYELL MALEN | PSV


He is just 18 years old, but Donyell Malen has already had spells at Ajax, Arsenal and PSV. The young striker came through the Amsterdam side’s youth academy before being snapped up by Arsenal, but spent just two years in London before PSV lured him back to his homeland.

Starring for Jong PSV in the Eerste Divisie this season, he has shown why the demand for him has been so high at a young age. He had impressed for Arsenal Under-18s and was a regular in the UEFA Youth League, and his eye for goal looks even sharper in the professional league.

He already has eight goals in 15 games for Jong PSV and is flourishing with Netherlands Under-21s, generating a lot of excitement already.

PSV coach Phillip Cocu rewarded him by including him in the senior team's January training camp in the United States, suggesting he could be set to make his debut for the Eredivisie leaders.


RICK VAN DRONGELEN | HAMBURG


Rick van Drongelen Hamburg

Rick van Drongelen needed just one season in the Eredivisie with Sparta Rotterdam to earn a move to another league.

After helping Sparta get promoted to the Dutch top flight and then stay in it, the centre-back was lured to the Bundesliga by Hamburg and impressed right away to make his debut while still just 18.

He recovered from an injury and went on to put in a solid display against Bayern Munich in October, earning the praise of coach Markus Gisdol despite the 1-0 defeat.

"The boy is really fun," he said. "It's easy to forget that he's only 18 because of his game. 

"Rick is a guy who takes things in his hands, who wants to take responsibility. I do not have to tell him, he's coaching, he's loud, and he does it on his own."

The strong, confident defender has chosen a good role model, too: he is an admirer of Giorgio Chiellini's "ruthless, hard, fearless" defending style and ability to stay calm in frustrating situations.


DONNY VAN DE BEEK | AJAX


Donny van de Beek Ajax

With 65 Ajax appearances under his belt, Donny van de Beek is experienced for a 20-year-old. 

The midfielder rose through the club's youth system to make his Eredivisie debut in November 2015, he had been in and out of the team before nailing down his place this term.

He has looked bright in the midfield alongside Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech to make himself a key player, scoring six goals in 18 league games.

Van de Beek has excellent control and a great eye for a pass as he links up with the attack and is dangerous as he makes runs into the box.

Ajax recently gave him a new four-year contract to ensure he continues his development in his homeland, and his progress remains exciting to watch.


DAISHAWN REDAN | CHELSEA


Redan

The outrage that Daishawn Redan caused when he fled Ajax's famous youth academy to join Chelsea in 2017 suggested the Amsterdam side had lost a special talent.

The prolific goalscorer accelerated through the age groups at both Ajax and the national team, quickly attracting offers from Premier League teams.

The Blues snapped him up ahead of Manchester United and he has impressed for the Under-18s already.

Redan has been captain of Netherlands Under-17s since last March and has netted an incredible 14 goals in 18 games.

Making the switch to England at such a young age was a risky decision, however, as many Dutch talents have struggled after embarking on a similar path, but Redan will be hoping to follow Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Nathan Ake into first-team football in the Premier League.

The youngster is sure he made the right call, however, as he feels he is becoming a better player in London.

"If I play a game now, I feel like I can run for the whole game, that's not normal," he said. "I learned a lot at Ajax, technique, tactical insight, everything actually. I look back on it with a positive feeling, but at Chelsea I can develop even further to the level I want to reach.

"I want to develop myself into one of the best strikers in the world."


JAVAIRO DILROSUN | MANCHESTER CITY


Javairo Dilrosun Netherlands

Another player who left Ajax for one of the Premier League big guns without making a first-team appearance, Javairo Dilrosun has made a big impression at Manchester City.

The 19-year-old arrived at the Etihad Stadium side in 2014 and is currently developing with the Under-23s in the Premier League 2.

According to reports in England, City have a fight on their hands to hold on to the promising winger as Liverpool, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund are among the teams looking to snap him up.

The Premier League side have big expectations of him, however, and will be hoping to persuade him to stay.


ARMANDO OBISPO | PSV


Already captain of Jong PSV and awaiting his debut for the senior side, Armando Obispo is looked upon as one of the Eindhoven club's brightest talents.

The 18-year-old defender has risen through the youth system since the age of six and has become one of the most important players for the reserves this season.

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He has been described by former PSV and Ajax coach Aad de Mos as a player with "unimaginable" potential and PSV have moved quickly to extend his contract until 2021 with an option for another year.

Sitting on the fringes of the first-team, he will be one to watch when he gets the nod from Phillip Cocu.

 

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