Top 10 Eredivisie U-23 Talents Premier League Clubs Must Sign
The Eredivisie is filled with precocious talents tailor-made for elite football.
Premier League clubs who cannot produce these youngsters can compensate by raiding Eredivisie clubs.
Excelsior, Vitesse, Feyenoord, AZ, Groningen, Ajax and Heerenveen all have an average squad age of 23 years or younger.
Here are the top 10 Eredivisie U-23 talents Premier League clubs must sign.
U-23 meaning 23 years or younger, so Jan Vertonghen, Dries Mertens and Rasmus Elm will not be on the list.
With regards to John Guidetti, if Manchester City considers him surplus to requirements, they will not sell him to a fellow Premier League club.
10. Kevin Strootman, PSV Eindhoven, Centre Midfielder, Age: 22
Kevin Strootman has great technique, possesses solid physical attributes and has a superb feel for the game.
He is talented enough to play as an attacking midfielder, and if he does move to a bigger club, hopefully he isn't pigeonholed as a defensive midfielder.
He was average in a 2-0 loss to Ajax, a 1-1 draw with Valencia and a 3-2 win over AZ.
He has the ability to dominate a game, running the show when PSV Eindhoven thrashed Heerenveen 5-1.
Why doesn't he play like that every game?
9. Filip Djuricic, Heerenveen, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 20
Filip Djuricic has improved in leaps and bounds compared to last season.
In a 4-3 win over Twente, Leroy Fer couldn't keep up with Djuricic, who provided two assists—one to Luciano Narsingh and another to Oussama Assaidi.
The Serbian was instrumental in a 4-1 win over VVV-Venlo.
This season, Djuricic has shown glimpses of a special footballer.
Now he needs to do this week in, week out—especially in the marquee fixtures.
So instead of being anonymous like in a 5-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven and in 5-1 and 5-0 losses to Ajax, he needs to rise to the occasion.
8. Alexander Büttner, Vitesse, Left-Back, Age: 23
I disagreed with several of Goal.com's choices for their Eredivisie team of the season.
I can live with Kelvin Leerdam at right-back, even though Daryl Janmaat has played better.
Guram Kashia seems more of a contrarian selection; I would have gone with Toby Alderweireld.
There is no way in the world that Simon Poulsen should be included over Alexander Büttner at left-back.
Büttner is just a better player than Poulsen, hands down.
For a guy that UEFA.com still lists as a forward, Büttner has played out of his skin at full-back.
He was my man of the match in a 1-1 draw against Heerenveen, where he stood toe-to-toe with the deadly Luciano Narsingh.
Büttner must move to a bigger club.
7. Adam Maher, AZ, Centre Midfielder, Age: 18
With Adam Maher, he's either an early bloomer or a future world-class footballer.
What is so encouraging about his game is that he plays like a seasoned professional even though he's just a kid.
He played his best football when Pontus Wernbloom was in midfield.
When the Swede left for CSKA Moscow, Maher's form dipped.
6. Bas Dost, Heerenveen, Centre Forward, Age: 22
For me, Bas Dost isn't as good as former Heerenveen forwards Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Afonso Alves.
If Huntelaar couldn't make it at Real Madrid and AC Milan, then I'll remain skeptical about Dost.
One of my worst predictions was saying Alves would be a world-class forward in the Premier League.
Dost went missing in a 5-0 loss to Ajax and a 5-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven.
He has cashed in on the selflessness of Filip Djuricic and Luciano Narsingh.
That being said, Dost is a good finisher—not as good as Huntelaar or Alves but good enough to score 38 goals in 39 games this season.
The lesson learned from the failures of Alves and Mateja Kežman is you shouldn't always trust prolific Eredivisie forwards in the Premier League.
5. Ola John, Twente, Left Forward, Age: 19
Given the explosiveness of Ola John's playing style, I can only assume he was tired towards the end of the season; hence why he was so disappointing.
In his last 10 games, he failed to score and only provided two assists.
Before that, he was setting the league on fire with his speed, something Tom Hiariej can attest to.
When Groningen lost 4-1, John ruthlessly went past Hiariej time after time and provided a hat trick of assists.
4. Luuk De Jong, Twente, Centre Forward, Age: 21
Luuk de Jong might not be as prolific as Bas Dost, but I'd take de Jong over Dost in the long run.
De Jong can create his own shot. He is more complete than Dost, he is a better passer than Dost, and he has a bigger upside than Dost.
Did you know de Jong scored four headed goals in four consecutive games?
3. Luciano Narsingh, Heerenveen, Right Forward, Age: 21
Jet-heeled, electrifying pace, incisive crossing and a compulsive need to beat the full-back.
That's what you need to know about Luciano Narsingh.
Dries Mertens filled up the stat box like there was no tomorrow: 27 goals and 24 assists in 49 games.
Narsingh only scored 12 goals and provided 26 assists in 39 games.
I'd take Narsingh over Mertens because the Belgian's dribbling is good, but it isn't Neymar good.
Narsingh's pace will always trouble full-backs, even world-class full-backs.
Not to mention Narsingh is built like an ox and can shrug off a hip-and-shoulder.
Can Mertens deal with the physicality?
Judging by the way Ricardo van Rhijn bullied him around when Ajax won 2-0, no.
2. Jordy Clasie, Feyenoord, Centre Midfielder, Age: 20
Wow...who do we have here?
I didn't watch Jordy Clasie at Excelsior, so I didn't expect him to be this good at Feyenoord.
High football IQ, demands the ball, extraordinary passing range, creative, excellent positional awareness.
Clasie was the conductor at Feyenoord, and he's destined for bigger and better things.
1. Christian Eriksen, Ajax, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 20
Christian Eriksen is the real deal.
Forget about his humiliating of Davy Propper, and focus on Eriksen's complex understanding of the game at such a young age.
He can see openings that other players can't. It's similar to the way Mesut Özil plays his football.
This season, Eriksen provided 20 assists.
Please read The Bundesliga Team of the Season.