The Netherlands: Ones to Watch

By: Jeroen (@J__TP5)

There are a lot of exciting talents in The Netherlands. The Eredivisie has produced talents like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, and the future is looking bright for The Netherlands. In this piece, 22 Dutch talents will be discussed. The starting XI is not based on current ability, but on the potential that a player has. Under 23 players that are already regular starters of the Dutch national team (Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek) will be ignored in this article.

The U17’s became European Champions this year, and the same team reached the fourth place in the World Cup.

Starting XI

Goalkeeper: Calvin Raatsie (17, Ajax U19)

Calvin Raatsie was included in the squad for both the European Championships (under 17) and the World Cup (under 17) this year. Raatsie was a regular starter in both tournaments, and has proved to be a reliable goalie. Raatsie is also comfortable with the ball on his feet and doesn’t panic when put under pressure.

Raatsie is currently playing for the under 19’s of Ajax Amsterdam, and will hope to be a regular starter for the first team of Ajax in a few years. Calvin Raatsie could become a very good goalie in the future, and it would not be surprising if he would make it to the Dutch national team.

Right-back: Ki-Jana Hoever (17, Liverpool U23)

The right-back position has been a big problem for The Netherlands in the last few years, and it is very important that there are some new talents coming through the youth ranks.

Ki-Jana Hoever didn’t impress at the World Championships last month, but his recent performances for Liverpool cannot be underestimated. The versatile defender made his debut for the first team last year, and impressed straight away. Hoever played for the first team when he was a starter against MK Dons impressing Jürgen Klopp.

I don’t think he will breakthrough at Liverpool, due to the fact he has Alexander-Arnold ahead of him. However, I think he has the potential to play for a club that plays European football regularly soon, and his potential to break into the Dutch National team within the next five years is promising.

Right centre-back: Perr Schuurs (20, Ajax)

Perr Schuurs has had a different career than most of the talents that are discussed in this piece. Schuurs came through the youth progams of Fortuna Sittard, playing in the second tier of Dutch football. He made his debut for Fortuna Sittard when he was 16, and became the captain of Fortuna Sittard a year later.

After Schuurs was the captain of the team that got promoted to the Eredivisie for the first time in sixteen years, he moved to Ajax. In the first year at Ajax, the centre-back played for Jong Ajax (Ajax’s second team) where he earned a lot of experience. Schuurs has had his chance in the first team this season, but he did not remain a starter for long. However, he is still being given occasional run outs, as he obviously has a lot of talent.

The young Dutch centre-backs do not have that much of a look in for the Dutch national team however. It would not be a surprise if Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk remain starters for the Dutch national team the coming five years.

Left centre-back: Sepp van den Berg (17, Liverpool U23)

Sepp van den Berg has already played 22 matches at the highest level in The Netherlands, and signed for Liverpool last season. He has played in the reserve team for the majority of the season, but he made his first team debut against Arsenal in the EFL Cup. Van den Berg is a ball-playing centre-back, who possess a strong ability to anticipate the play.

Van den Berg could become a very good player in the future, but it will be hard for him to become a regular starter for both Liverpool and the Dutch national team.

Left-back: Owen Wijndal (19, AZ Alkmaar)

Owen Wijndal is one of the best players of AZ Alkmaar this season. AZ Alkmaar are the surprise package of Eredivise this season, including a 4-0 away from home at giants PSV. They currently sit in second place, and have qualified for the round of 32 in the Europa League.

Owen Wijndal came through the youth programs of AZ Alkmaar, after playing for HFC Haarlem until 2010. He then played a few years in the youth of AZ, before playing for Jong AZ in both the ‘Tweede Divisie’ (third tier) and the ‘Eerste Divisie’ (second tier).

The 19-year-old left-back forms an attacking threat down the left, but also possesses impressive numbers at the back as well. Wijndal already has four assists, and is averaging 1.5 key passes per game, 2 tackles per game and 1.5 interceptions per game.

Wijndal could become a regular starter for the Dutch national team in two or three years, as long as he makes the right move this summer.

Right centre-mid: Ryan Gravenberch (17, Ajax)

Ryan Gravenberch is a typical Ajax-player. He joined the youth programs when he was eight years old and played in almost every youth team of Ajax. Gravenberch was a part of the Dutch under 17’s that became European champions last year, but wasn’t selected for the World Championships. The reason for that was that he is already a part of the first team of Ajax, and could not be missed.

The 17-year-old was the youngest debutant for Ajax ever, being only 16 years and 130 days old when he came on as a sub. This season he came on as a sub three times, and he mostly plays for Jong Ajax in the second tier, scoring six goals, and making three assists.

Ryan Gravenberch is probably one of the biggest talents that The Netherlands has at this moment, and it is a matter of time before the world will hear more about Gravenberch.

Centre-mid: Teun Koopmeiners (21, AZ Alkmaar)

Teun Koopmeiners joined the youth programs of AZ Alkmaar in 2013, and has been playing for AZ since. Koopmeiners made his official debut for the first team of AZ in October 2017, and has been a regular starter for two seasons now.

Now, Koopmeiners is the captain of AZ, and he has been one of the key players for AZ, scoring seven goals in the Eredivisie. Koopmeiners is a defensive midfielder who is very good at both defending and attacking.

It is expected that AZ will lose some key players this summer, and Teun Koopmeiners could be one of them.

Left centre-mid: Abdou Harroui (21, Sparta Rotterdam)

The 21-year-old Harroui is one of the biggest talents that has ever played for Sparta Rotterdam. In my opinion, he gets underestimated and doesn’t get enough credits.

Abdou Harroui is a very complete midfielder who doesn’t really have a weakness. He is very good at dribbling, and does well at tackling as well. Besides that, he has a good vision and has the ability to exploit that quality as he already gave six assists this season.

It would not surprise me if AZ or Feyenoord would try to sign him next summer, as I think he is a very big talent.

Right-winger: Mohammed Ihattaren (17, PSV)

Arguably the biggest talent of The Netherlands right now, as he is already a key player for PSV. He joined PSV in 2010, and made his official debut last season.

Mohammed Ihattaren is technically gifted, creative winger, who is very good at dribbling. He keeps the ball very close to him which makes him tough to defend against, however he does need to work on his defensive contribution.

He will definitely become a regular starter for the Dutch national team in the near future.

Striker: Myron Boadu (18, AZ Alkmaar)

Another key player of AZ Alkmaar this season is the 18-year-old Myron Boadu. Boadu was injured last season, but now he is fully fit and he has been impressing since his return from injury.

Myron Boadu made his official debut for the Dutch national team last month, and made an instant impact, scoring immediately. Boadu is pacey, makes good runs and creates chances for his teammates as well. He has already played 23 games this season, scoring fifteen goals and making eleven assists.

His ultimate goal for this season will be to be included in the squad for the European Championships, and it would not be surprising if he would make it.

Left-winger: Naci Ünüvar (16, Ajax U19)

Naci Ünüvar is one of the most exciting prospects playing in the youth program of Ajax right now. As a 15-year-old, he scored seven goals and made six assists in twelve matches for the under 19’s. It is expected that he will play for Jong Ajax in the second half of this season. He was included in the squad for both the World Cup and the European Championships (under 17).

He is able to play on several positions, but the best position of Ünüvar is the left-wing position. Ünüvar is a creative left-winger who likes to pass the ball outside of the boot. He has great vision, and he is able to create a lot of chances. Besides that, Ünüvar is good at shooting from outside-of-the-box, and he is an amazing passer.

We could see him make his debut for Ajax in 2020, but I think it will take some time before he will be a regular starter for Ajax.

Bench:

Goalkeeper: Maarten Paes (21, FC Utrecht)

Maarten Paes is a 21-year-old goalkeeper, who came through the youth ranks of NEC Nijmegen. He signed for Utrecht on a free in 2018, and has played for Jong FC Utrecht (second tier) until this season. Now, Paes is a regular starter for FC Utrecht. He has been shaky on occasion, but has also impressed in other matches.

I don’t rate Maarten Paes that high, and I do not see him playing for the Dutch national team in the future. He would be a good match for a club like AZ, but I do not think he will reach a higher level than a side like AZ.

Right-back: Steven van der Sloot (17, Ajax U19)

Steven van der Sloot joined the Ajax academy, after playing for Feyenoord in the last three years. He was the stand-in of Ki-Jana Hoever in both the World Cup and the European Championships, but has lots of talent. He is an attacking-minded right-back who is very comfortable on the ball.

Van der Sloot certainly is not the biggest talent of The Netherlands, but there are not many talented right-backs in The Netherlands so Van der Sloot deserves a spot in this team based on that information.

Right centre-back: Devyne Rensch (16, Ajax U19)

Devyne Rensch was a regular starter for the Dutch U17’s in both the World Cup and the European Championships. He joined the youth program of Ajax when he was thirteen years old, and has moved up to Ajax U19 within a few years. Now, Rensch is sixteen, but he already is a regular starter for Ajax U19.

Devyne Rensch is a strong defender who is quite pacey for a centre-back as well. He is very good in the 1-on-1 situations with his opponents, and doesn’t panic when he gets the ball.

Left centre-back: Neraysho Kasanwirjo (17, Ajax U19)

Neraysho Kasanwirjo is a player that gets underestimated quite a bit. He is very good on the ball, and keeps very calm when he gets put under pressure. Besides that, he is very pacey and he forms a great duo with Devyne Rensch.

I could see Rensch and Kasanwirjo forming the centre-back duo of Ajax in 2022 as they are both very talented, and both have ‘the Ajax-DNA’.

Left-back: Anass Salah-Eddine (17, Ajax U19)

Yet another player that plays for Ajax U19. Salah-Eddine joined the U17’s of Ajax in the summer of 2018, and has moved up to Ajax U19 quite fast. Anass Salah-Eddine is a technically gifted player who always offers an attacking outlet down the left wing. The 17-year-old is a very good dribbler, and contribute well defensively.

It will be exciting to see if Owen Wijndal or Anass Salah-Eddine will be the future of The Netherlands, but it’s looking good for The Netherlands as both players are very talented.

Right centre-mid: Kenneth Taylor (17, Jong Ajax / Ajax U19)

Kenneth Taylor has been in the youth programs of Ajax for nine years already, and he could be close to making his official debut for Ajax. Kenneth Taylor was included in both the World Cup and the European Championships, captaining The Netherlands at both tournaments

Taylor is a complete midfielder who is good at both defending and attacking. He is a hard-working midfielder, and he stands out with his passing, vision and ball control.

As I said, he could be close to making his debut for Ajax, but it will be hard for him to become a regular starter for Ajax in the next two years as there is great competition for him at Ajax.

Centre-mid: Joey Veerman (21, SC Heerenveen)

After playing for FC Volendam nearly his whole life, he moved to SC Heerenveen last summer. The defensive midfielder has been a starter in nearly every match, and has proved to be able to perform at a very high level. Joey Veerman has great vision, is a good dribbler and is a very good passer as well.

I think he will play for Heerenveen in the next few years, but he could become a key player for a big club in The Netherlands if he continues to develop well.

Left centre-mid: Enric Llansana (18, Jong Ajax / Ajax U19)

Enric Llansana is an 18-year-old defensive midfielder, who likes to be a deep-lying playmaker. He joined the youth programs of Ajax when he was eleven years old. Llansana has already made his debut for Jong Ajax, and is the captain of Ajax under 19 as well. Llansana always keeps very calm, and always picks out the right pass. In defense, he can be very aggressive, which leads to a lot of interceptions.

In my opinion, Llansana is a typical defensive midfielder that would perform very well for Ajax, and he could certainly become a regular starter for Ajax in the future, or even for a bigger club in Europe.

Right-winger: Calvin Stengs (20, AZ Alkmaar)

Even though he had a very big injury, Calvin Stengs is currently one of the biggest talents of The Netherlands. Stengs is a right-winger, who can also play as a central attacking midfielder. Stengs likes to cut in and create a chance for his teammates, a trait he often looks to utilise.

The future is looking bright for The Netherlands, and certainly in this position. Both Stengs and Ihattaren are extraordinary talents who could become key players for a very big club in Europe in the future.

Striker: Sontje Hansen (17, Ajax U19)

Sontje Hansen was included in both the World Cup and the European Championships (U17) as well, and he even won the Golden Boot scoring six goals. Sontje Hansen played for the youth program of Ajax nearly his whole life, and has always been a big talent. He stands out with his dribbling, vision and finishing. Besides that, he forms a great duo with Naci Ünüvar.

He will probably play for Jong Ajax in the next half of the season, and he could be making his debut for Ajax in 2020.

Left-winger: Javairô Dilrosun (21, Hertha BSC)

Despite his young age, Javairô Dilrosun has already played in three different countries. He has played for Ajax, Manchester City and Hertha BSC. Dilrosun already has made his debut for the Dutch national team, but he got injured and lost his place in the squad. However, he has been playing very well this season for Hertha BSC, already scoring three goals and providing two assists as well.

He certainly has less talent than Naci Ünüvar, but I can still see him making the starting line-up of The Netherlands in the future because of his different playing style.

Notable mentions:

Goalkeepers:

  • Kjell Scherpen

Right-backs:

  • Deyovaisio Zeefuik
  • Sherel Floranus
  • Jeremie Frimpong

Centre-backs:

  • Jurriën Timber
  • Justin Hoogma
  • Rick van Drongelen
  • Melayro Bogarde

Left-backs:

  • Juan Familia-Castillo
  • Ian Maatsen

Central midfielders:

  • Kenzo Goudmijn
  • Youri Regeer
  • Carel Eiting
  • Xavi Simons
  • Immanuel Pherai

Right-wingers:

  • Tahith Chong
  • Marouan Azarkan
  • Zakaria Aboukhlal

Strikers:

  • Daishawn Redan
  • Joshua Zirkzee
  • Brian Brobbey

Left-wingers:

  • Cody Gakpo
  • Justin Kluivert
  • Mohamed Taabouni

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