5 Netherlands Youngsters You Must Know About
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal is known for putting a lot of faith in youngsters.
Take the Ajax side Van Gaal won the Champions League with in 1995 as an example. It largely consisted of Ajax youth academy products, including Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert.
Almost 20 years later, not much has changed. The preliminary Netherlands squad Van Gaal announced this week looked even younger than expected.
Here, we take a look at the five youngsters you must know about before the World Cup starts.
Bruno Martins Indi
Whilst trying to come up with his preliminary squad for the World Cup, one of the first defenders on Louis van Gaal's list must have been Bruno Martins Indi.
Together with fellow graduates of the Feyenoord academy in Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat and possibly Terence Kongolo, Martins Indi will almost certainly play a huge role in the Netherlands' defensive setup during the tournament.
Martins Indi, who has been an important player for Feyenoord for some years now, will probably be looking to make an impression and possibly earn himself a transfer to a big league during the summer.
Ahead of the Netherlands' friendly against Ecuador on Saturday, manager Louis van Gaal has made it clear he's thinking about experimenting with an unusual 5-3-2 formation.
One of the key players in this system would have to be Daryl Janmaat. The Feyenoord right-back, who has had an excellent season at club level, would have to function as a wingback.
With the lack of wingers in a 5-3-2 formation, the wingback position is absolutely vital.
Much like Feyenoord teammate Bruno Martins Indi, Janmaat will be looking to draw the attention of bigger clubs during the tournament.
As the third Feyenoord player on this list, Jordy Clasie is possibly the best of the golden generation that emerged from the club's youth academy over the past couple of years.
A hard-working midfielder, Clasie is a good passer of the ball and intelligent runner. Usually contributing to defence as well as the attack, he comes close to the "box-to-box" mould of midfielder the Netherlands have been missing since Kevin Strootman's injury.
Tottenham Hotspur and Fiorentina are some of the clubs rumoured to be interested in Clasie, according to the Daily Mail. Should his World Cup be successful, other clubs will probably follow.
A product of the Ajax youth academy, Daley Blind is the son of Danny Blind, who won the Champions League with the Amsterdam-based side in 1995.
Following a dip in form after his first-team debut in 2008, Blind has shown remarkable progress this past season.
At Ajax, Blind started out as a left-back. However, after a successful midfield experiment, he now often plays as a defensive midfielder.
During the World Cup, Van Gaal will probably be considering Blind for both positions. The Netherlands boss will also appreciate the option to move Blind around during games.
Patrick Van Aanholt
Having joined Chelsea's youth academy at the age of 16, Patrick van Aanholt was one of the many players who were loaned out to Vitesse, the Dutch side the Blues have obvious but unexplained links with.
Back in the Netherlands, the left-back quickly impressed. His defensive qualities and attacking verve are now important elements of Vitesse’s style of play.
Now that his loan spell at Vitesse has ended and his future is unclear, Van Aanholt will probably be looking to impress not just Louis van Gaal, but Jose Mourinho as well.
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