Pass the Dutchy: Now that Huntelaar Has Gone to Milan What Becomes of the Rest of Real Madrid's Dutch Contingent?
In the biggest transfer story since the Ibrahimovich/Eto’o swap, Dutch striker, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar departed Real Madrid for AC Milan this week. “The Hunter” who had been deemed surplus by the new brass at the Bernabeu, made his way into the Rossoneri camp for a reported 15 million Euros.
With Madrid’s fresh new crop of “Galacticos” apparently primed and ready to take the pitch, speculations are rife as to what will happen to the rest of Real’s Dutch contingent.
Even regular starter Arjen Robben looks to be facing a season of bench warming. Whereas Wesley Sneijder Rafael Van Der Vaart, Royston Drenthe and the perpetually injured Ruud Van Nistelrooy look set to be pushed even further down the pecking order.
Yet with more than three weeks remaining in the transfer market it seems highly possible that regular starting places on good teams could be found for all these talented, highly capable, brilliant Oranje.
As it’s entirely possible that any number of high-level club managers are reading this, let me take this opportunity to offer a few suggestions.
1. Arjen Robben to Manchester United
Yes I know Sir Alex says they’re done with buying new players for the season. And yes I know he’s adamant that somehow the 29-year old Michael Owen is a suitable replacement for both Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.
And yes I know that it might seem like Manchester were picking up Real’s castoffs after Real had cherry picked their best player, but let’s consider it a moment.
Yes it is likely that Owen will prove an effective goal poacher, making up some of the points that would have been provided by Ronaldo. But for the driving, creative, midfield attacks regularly laid down by Messrs Tevez and Ronaldo, you can only count on Ji-Sung Park so much.
It is noteworthy that in Real Madrid’s pre-season appearance in the Peace Cup Robben was substituted in for Ronaldo. While Robben may lack Ronaldo’s flash they have comparable speed and Robben is just as agile in attacking the ball forward in sudden explosive bursts. He also possesses ample creativity and the same diligent, never give in work ethic of Carlos Tevez.
There’s money in the coffers at Old Trafford and for Manchester United I think it would be well spent on Arjen Robben.
2. Wesley Sneijder to Bayern Munich
There’s been much talk lately about Wesley Sneijder going to Aston Villa, or possibly Inter. But Aston Villa would mean no possibility of Champions League play and Inter seem to have done their share of high profile business this summer.
Last season Bayern were only about as good as Franck Ribery was. Now Podolski’s gone back to Cologne, Luca Toni may be on his way to Tottenham and Ribery is by all accounts, disgruntled. Bayern could use a shot of electricity in the midfield and Wesley Sneijder could be the man to give it to them.
He’s got speed, creativity, provides crucial assists and scores a respectable number of goals for a midfielder. Having someone who could keep pace with Ribery would strengthen Bayern’s attack and give them some added edge in reclaiming the top spot in the Bundesliga.
Furthermore Bayern’s incoming Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal singled out Sneijder and Rafael Van Der Vaart as his top transfer targets.
Which brings us to...
Rafael Van Der Vaart to Arsenal
After his highly publicized move from Bundesliga club Hamburger SV to Real Madrid, Rafael Van Der Vaart spent last season mostly warming the bench. Perhaps in part due to his perceivable similarities to Wesley Sneijder.
Which is why, in spite of what Louis Van Gaal may want, I feel Van Der Vaart should go to Arsenal.
I realize at 26, he’s a few years older than what Arsene Wenger usually shops for in new players. But for the last two or three seasons fans have been wishing Arsenal would bring in some seasoned players.
Van Der Vaart, a good, proven attacking midfielder, can score goals and excels at setting up assists. Already well accustomed to playing with Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie on the Dutch national side, he’d be an easy solution to shoring up the holes in Arsenal’s attack left by the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor.
Royston Drenthe to Liverpool
The youngest, and apparently most sought after of Real’s Dutch contingent, Royston Drenthe attracted interest from Chelsea and Barcelona early in his career at Feyenoord.
Eventually signing for Real Madrid at the same time as Sneijder, Drenthe has had his ups and downs at the Bernabeu.
Yes I know this is another one of those cases of getting a castoff while Real Madrid cherry picks, but again stop and think about it. As a very effective left back and central midfielder, Drenthe could help fill in the gap left by the departure of Xabi Alonso.
And for a team that’s more concerned with building an effective squad and less with “embarking on a new era of Galacticos, Drenthe is a top quality central midfielder. Given the chance he would seem at least capable of filling the shoes left behind by Alsonso.
Add to that his close friendship with fellow Dutchmen and Liverpool forward, Ryan Babel and you have what amounts to a pretty good fit.
5. Ruud Van Nistelrooy to the MLS
After reconciling with Marco Van Basten and rejoining the Dutch national team last summer, Van Nistelrooy put in a stellar performance at Euro 2008. He played a decisive role in the Oranje’s 3-0 win over Italy and scored a dramatic equalizer against Russia, although the Dutch went on to lose 3-1.
At the time no one would have guessed it was likely to be Van Nistelrooy’s last great act on the European stage.
After missing most of last season due to serious injury, earlier this summer the player himself admitted he wasn’t sure what Real had in store for him, nor who else would be interested in him at this point.
Van Nistelrooy has enjoyed a stellar career from his early days with PSV on to Manchester United where he earned a reputation as one of the top strikers in Europe. After moving onto Real he enjoyed another couple of good seasons before injury sidelined him.
At an age and a stage in his career where a full top-flight comeback appears more unlikely by the day, perhaps Van Nistelrooy should consider taking his act stateside.
Beckham is in L.A., Ljungberg is in Seattle, and from the look of things Thierry Henry has his eye on New York. Were Van Nistelrooy to join a team like the Chicago Fire or the San Jose Earthquakes he could bring more star status and top quality football to a league that is by all accounts getting better and better.
Having already announced his retirement from international competition, the MLS could be a graceful exit and a chance to maximize his potential for the remaining years of his career as a player.
Of course, if not, there’s always Tottenham Hotspur.
What do you think?
Where would you like to see the remainder of Real Madrid’s talented Dutch contingent go?