The Eredivisie season restarts after the winter break on Friday night, so as a preview, over the next five nights we will be posting the stars of the division so far this term.
Here’s Will Burns with the rundown of the first five…
The 23-year-old left back is halfway through his second season on loan in Arnhem and already it’s his best yet. Vitesse sit second in the league, gunning for this first ever Eredivisie championship and Van Aanholt has played his part making 16 appearances. Attacking down the left, Van Aanholt has the opposition quaking in their personalised boots while notching three goals while creating another three in the process.
The young defender’s greatest display this season was in Vitesse’s 6-2 demolition of PSV Eindhoven. Although he scored once and set up two others, he showed faultless composure and anticipation in defence especially when stopping the PSV attacks early in the second half.
Will a return to the Premier League with Chelsea be on the cards? Or does Jose Mourinho see Ryan Bertrand as the natural successor to Ashley Cole?
Son of Dutch legend, Danny, Daley Blind has emerged as the natural first choice left-back for Ajax over the last 18 months. However as of last nine games, Ajax manager Frank de Boer has moved Blind into the centre of midfield where he has continued to shine.
In a total of 14 appearances in the Eredivisie this season, the move to midfield was obviously going to be a success looking at Blind’s passing stats. So far, the 23-year-old has a fantastic 89.2% success rate, completing 856 out of 960 passes.
Already a mainstay in the Oranje first team, his international career could be taking another turn. Van Gaal classes Blind as his first choice left-back, but his recent displays in the holding midfielder position could change Louis’ mind for Brazil in the summer.
The Brazilian central defender has been an ever-present for Groningen this season, leading the club to sixth in the league standings. Botteghin’s main strength this season has been winning the majority of aerial duels that face him, he is 6ft 4inches tall afterall.
He is a no-nonsense defender, not afraid to boot the ball up the field to give his team time to regroup (168 clearances this season). His long-balls are accurate too; an interesting stat is that the Brazilian has completed a massive 94 of his 128 attempted punts up field.
Joining from NAC Breda in the summer, you have to wonder how long Groningen can hold onto Botteghin, especially when his ‘safety-first’ attitude would be right at home in the Premier League.
Returning back to the Netherlands after an unsuccessful spell in Serie A, Castaignos looks like he could be ready to hit the big leagues again, at only 21-years-old.
At Inter Milan, over two seasons, the powerhouse striker only made six appearances in Italy and failed to make any impact. At Twente, to date, he has notched 23 times in 53 appearances since returning to the Eredivisie, including 10 goals this season.
Castaignos, Dusan Tadic and Quincy Promes have fired Twente into third place so far, just three points behind leaders Ajax. If the goals keep coming, then could a second Eredivisie title be heading to Enschede? Time will tell.
Ajax suffered a terrible start to the season only winning two of the first five games, with goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer, rightly taking the majority of the blame due to some lack of concentration. The carnage continued and in September, Barcelona and PSV hit Ajax with a pair of 4-0 defeats. Meanwhile, Cillessen was keeping attacks at bay for the Jong Ajax side in the Jupiler League. De Boer called the 24-year-old into action, dropping Vermeer and Cillessen has cemented the starting spot his own.
Cillessen has been impressive, with a young inexperienced defence in front of him, he has kept seven clean sheets in 11 games he’s started. Louis van Gaal has found Cillessen impressive too, and has been named the Dutch number one, again replacing Vermeer in recent months.
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