5 Netherlands Players with a Point to Prove in the 2014-15 Season
At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Netherlands did surprisingly well, reaching third place and beating well-respected nations like Spain, Chile and Mexico along the way.
A new season has now started, and while the events of this summer are slowly becoming distant memories, reality has kicked in again.
There are club careers to be resumed; there are prizes to be won. New challenges must be overcome, and old scores need to be settled.
Here, we take a look at five Dutch players with a point to prove in the 2014-15 season.
Nigel de Jong
Even though he has played in top competitions like the Bundesliga and the Premier League, Nigel de Jong's abilities have often been questioned.
He's a good, tough-tackling defensive midfielder, the consensus seems to be, but he is not one of the world's best.
However, at the World Cup—again, where the Netherlands reached third place—De Jong played an absolutely vital role for his team.
This summer, rumours are once again linking the Dutchman with a switch. According to The Telegraph, he could even move to Manchester United.
Whether he'll stay at Milan or make a move, De Jong will want to prove his critics wrong. He is one of the best defensive midfielders out there.
Robin van Persie
His first season at Manchester United seemed like a dream come true. The club won the Premier League, and Robin van Persie became top scorer of the competition.
His second season was the stuff of nightmares.
Under David Moyes, who had succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson as manager, United finished seventh. Meanwhile, Van Persie spent most of the season on the sidelines, nursing various injuries.
Now under the leadership of Louis van Gaal, Van Persie will be relishing the chance to make a personal comeback while leading his club's return to the upper regions of the table.
The Netherlands of course played Robin van Persie as their first-choice striker. However, it was expected Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would get more playing time than he ended up getting.
Besides his appearance against Mexico, where he provided the assist for the Oranje's crucial equaliser and scored the winning goal, Huntelaar barely featured in Brazil.
Van Gaal would often opt for players like Memphis Depay and Jeremain Lens before bringing on Huntelaar.
Was that fair or not, considering the tactics the manager was using? That question remains open for debate.
At current club Schalke, Huntelaar will want to show the world that he too deserves to shine on football's biggest stage. That's for sure.
Ahead of the World Cup, it was generally expected that Feyenoord's Jordy Clasie would have some role to play in Van Gaal's midfield setup.
However, as the tournament unfolded, it turned out the manager didn't really need Clasie.
Instead, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jonathan de Guzman were usually asked to partner Nigel de Jong at the base of midfield.
Feyenoord teammates Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij performed excellently in Brazil. Consequently, they have earned transfers to bigger clubs—FC Porto and Lazio respectively.
Clasie looks likely to remain at Feyenoord for at least another year, and he will have to find other ways to put himself in the international spotlight.
One young player who did feature prominently for the Netherlands during the World Cup was Ajax's Daley Blind.
The defender and midfielder played a crucial role in almost all of the Oranje's matches, constantly providing width from the left flank or security from his position as a deep midfielder.
Interest in his services unsurprisingly seemed to spark right after the tournament, with Manchester United possibly closing in on a deal, as per Alex Richards of The Mirror.
However, so far, Blind has remained in Amsterdam. With only a few days to go until transfer deadline day, it's starting to look like he might spend another year at Ajax.
Surely he'll want to use that year to show the world's biggest clubs that they'd be foolish not to pick him up next year?