GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - MARCH 15: Lewis Holtby of Schalke challenges Nacer Chadli of Twente during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Schalke 04 and FC Twente at Veltins-Arena on March 15, 2012 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The Netherlands - Orange, wacky, the father of the 433 and a hotbed for young talent.
Traditionally Holland and the Dutch League - the Eredivisie - has been a hub for young talent. Scouts from across Europe descend on the towns of Enschede Arnhem and Rotterdam, as well as the capital Amsterdam to scout the talents of tomorrow. World Class players have come out of or through the rungs of the Dutch leave, for example: Clarence Seedorf, Ruud Gullit, Ruud van Nistelrooy and the master himself, Johan Cruyff.
Since Martin Jol was appointed Fulham Football Club manager links to players from his previous clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Hamburger SV and Ajax as well as players from his home country, Holland, have never ceased. Jol's target for his tenure at Fulham was to lower the age of the squad, yet remain successful whilst pushing up the table. Savvy, successful signings have been made within the first year of the Jol era with his mind firmly set on the future. The signings of Swiss Pajtim Kasami, Czech Marcel Gecov and Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz - along with the introduction of youngsters Kerim Frei and Alexander Kacaniklic as well as the desire to retain present stars such as Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele, firmly demonstrate that Jol is looking at the long term as opposed to the short.
Teams in the Dutch league have never been shy when it comes to giving young, talented players game time - the Dutch are masters at coaching young players and regularly these players will move on to bigger things. In the last 3 years the Eredivisie has seen exports such as Ricky van Wolfswinkle (Sporting Lisbon), Bas Dost (VfLWolfsburg), Stjin Schaars (Sporting Lisbon), Luis Suarez (Liverpool) and our very own Bryan Ruiz net Dutch football over €50m in transfers alone, as well as raising the reputation of the league. The Eredivisie currently sits 7th in the UEFA rankings, behind the Barclays Permier League, La Liga, Bundesliga et al and the league is definitely becoming stronger, good performances in this years Europa League from Ajax Amsterdam opened European football's eyes in the direction of the Netherlands, once again.
As mentioned previously, the Eredivisie is a hive of talent, and this year Fulham have been linked with players such as Nacer Chadli and Luciano Narsingh from FC Twente and SC Herenveen respectively. Below, with the help of Eredivie enthusiast @JakeSadler_ we will analyse not only Fulham targets but players who have a big future in the game.
Douglas - FC Twente - CB
The 24 year old 6'4 defender has really made a name for himself this year - tall, strong on the ground and in the air he has attracted interest from clubs such as Fulham, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. Unflappable and calm under pressure Douglas has made his mark right across Europe with strong displays both domestically as well as in the Europa League. He is thought to command a fee in the region of €7-9m.
Alexander Buttner - Vitesse Arnhem - LB
After a stellar season for Arnhem Buttner was called up to the Dutch preliminary squad for EURO2012. Quick on the ground with a good reading of the game Alexander proved to be a valuable assets for Arnhem this year. Quality close control and great delivery Buttner has a bright future ahead of him. A deal with Southampton looks to have hit a wall due to demands from a third party. €2.5-3m
Leroy Fer - FC Twente - CM
22 year old Fer is a real prospect - quick, defensively strong and yet another player with a fantastic reading of the game. Hailed by many as the 'Next Patrick Viera' Fer has the ability to work the ball from deep and possesses a cracking shot. Nicknamed 'The Bouncer' for his physical appearances and linked heavily with Fulham this year. Believed to have visited Motspur Park. €5-7m
Vurnon Anita - Ajax Amsterdam - CM
Anita is known throughout Europe for his ability to get stuck in when the going gets tough, a real pact player with some great defensive attributes. Known to fill in as a left-back for the Netherlands his versatility is a real assets for any team. Reports in Holland suggest that Real Madrid were tracking him at one point. Heavily linked with Newcastle this year. €5-8m
Kevin Strootman - SV Eindhoven - CM
Strootman is one of the most highly rated, young, central midfielders in Europe. A powerful and solid player, he is known for his great distribution, linking the play with ease and would add some flair too any midfield. Linked with big clubs such as Manchester United, Valencia and Sporting Lisbon to name but a few. €8-10m
Eyong Enoh - Ajax Amsterdam - CM
Cameroonian Enoh is known for his aggression on the pitch, lightning pace and determination to break up the play. At 26 years old his has amassed 20 caps for Cameroon, scoring once. €4m
Nacer Chadli - FC Twente - LW
A wing wizard, a Belgian version of Clint Dempsey without the aerial ability. Fast, strong and very good at taking on players at high speed. Chadli has been continuously linked with a move to Fulham and has been known to visit Mostpur Park. 12 goals and numerous assists last year proves that Chadli will be a valuable asset to any club. €5-7m
Luciano Narsingh - SC Herenveen - RW
Narsingh is a tricky winger who possesses express-train pace and a very large skill-set. His age and lack of maturity may hold him back from going on to bigger things, but the talent to do well is definitely there. An abundance of flair, a great cross and an eye for goal Narsingh is a target for both Fulham and Ajax Amsterdam. €5m
Jeremain Lens - PSV Eindhoven - RW
A known speed dribbler, who is adept with both feet. Lens has set the Eredivisie alight with his flair and trickery. Has the ability to score goals and is on the verge of a break through into the Dutch national team. Linked with massive clubs across Europe. €12m
Wilfried Bony - Vitesse Arnhem - ST
‘The Powerhouse’ has lit the Eredivisie on fire the last season and has been tipped to be the next Drogba. An absolute powerhouse, his lightning pace and strength caused problems for the best of defenders such as Vertonghen and Douglas. One of the best shots in the league with great arial ability Bony would be available for around €7-10m
Tim Matavz - PSV Eindhoven - ST
Slovenian Matavz stands at 6'2 and at 23 years old is a great prospect. Pacy, good in the air and with an excellent curling finish Matavz can be a problem for any defence. Matavz has scored 7 goals in 13 international caps for Slovenia, which also included the 2010 FIFA World Cup, scored 11 in 28 last season for PSV. €10m
Jozy Altidore - AZ Alkmaar - ST
Jozy has been known in the past for his lack of goals; however, this completely changed last season at AZ. 15 goals and a numerous assists means he was one of the league’s top scorers. Known for his strength and arial ability, Altidore also possesses a mean shot. A move to the Premier League maybe doubtful after his short stint with Hull, but at 22 years old there is still time for this rough diamond to develop. €5-7m
The Eredivisie also has big name stars such as Luuk de Jong and the highly rated Dane, Cristian Eriksen, however these stars of the Eredivise look to be on the move this summer with de Jong attracting Newcastle and Borussia Monchengladbach and Eriksen the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United.
With a busy transfer window coming up expect more rumours and possibly signings from the home of the Oranje Revolution that is taking place at Fulham Football Club.