At the start of every season in Holland, Ajax enter as favourites and that isn’t surprising at all given their history and recent success in the Eredivisie, but this season they will have serious competition in PSV Eindhoven writes Jacob Jakeman.
The club have won the league 21 times, most recently during the 2007-8 campaign, while they are best known for allowing names such as Romario, Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy to make their name on the big stage. Many would consider them as the second biggest club in Holland, but they have slipped in recent years. Now they look to be making moves in the direction under Phillip Cocu, who will be leading the side for a second season. There were promising signs last campaign, finishing fourth, however they will be looking to qualify for the Champions League this season.
Although Ajax will still be considered as major favourites, they have lost their influential captain in Siem de Jong and they haven’t brought anybody in. While Frank de Boer is a manager who will interest a lot of clubs around Europe and if he leaves mid season, it could have damaging repercussions for Ajax. PSV are undergoing a transitional phase under Cocu, however they will be a lot more dangerous this season as their young players will be more experienced.
They have been active in the transfer market, securing the permanent transfer of very talented striker Luuk de Jong. Although he may have had a couple of poor seasons, he will be returning to a league which he has had a lot of success in. Plus he will be first choice, allowing him to feel less pressure and play his natural game. He scored 25 goals in his last season in the Eredivisie, if he repeats that for PSV, then they will certainly be pushing Ajax at the top of the table. It is believed PSV still want to add this summer, with Steven Defour a key target. Another one or two quality additions will really put PSV next to Ajax as favourites for the upcoming season.
Defensively, PSV have some decent players and could add at least one more before the closing of the window. Their goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet is one of the best young shot stoppers in Europe, having already attracted interest from bigger leagues, while he has been in and out of the Dutch squad for the past two years, despite not actually winning his first cap yet. Last season was his first as PSV’s number one and he was impressive, especially when it came to shot stopping, but he will be keen to enhance his reputation further this year. Meanwhile Jeffrey Bruma and Jetro Willems are both good young talents, who will go onto bigger things in the game. If PSV manage to re-sign Karim Rekik on loan, they will have a back five capable of keeping clean sheets, a rarity in the Eredivisie.
In the final third, the Eindhoven outfit have a number of talented forwards who will all make big contributions this coming season. The talented midfield trio of Luciano Narsingh, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Maher will provide PSV with a talented core to the side, all of whom have been capped by Holland showing their talent. They are all players who will attract interest over the next year and could be the next to move to a bigger league if their impressive performances continue. Meanwhile Stijn Schaars provides experience to the midfield and gives more protection to the back four. His partnership with Wijnaldum will be critical this season.
Although Luuk de Jong will be looked upon as the main attacker in the side, they also have Memphis Depay and Jurgen Locadia, who can both score crucial goals in the Eredivisie. PSV will see keeping Depay as the key to their hopes of challenging Ajax. He is without doubt one of the most talented players in the division and looked at home among the best players in the world at the World Cup. Although there is interest from the Premier League, he could stay in Holland for one more season, which would prove to be beneficial to both PSV and Depay, who may not get first team football if he moves this summer.
It will be fascinating to watch PSV this season as it’s clear they have a very talented squad led by an exciting young coach in Cocu, they will certainly be favourites to qualify for the Champions League alongside Ajax after the departures at Feyenoord, but could they have enough to stop Ajax winning another title? On paper, it appears they have a good chance with another one or two quality signings, as well as keeping Memphis Depay.
TRANSFERS INS AND OUT
IN: Andrija Lukovic (FK Rad), Luuk de Jong (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Remko Pasveer (Heracles).
OUT: Benjamin van Leer (Roda JC), Bryan Ruiz (Fulham), Karim Rekik (Manchester City), Matthias Zanka Jørgensen (FC Kobenhavn), Peter van Ooijen (Go Ahead Eagles), Tim Matavz (FC Augsburg).
MANAGER – PHILIP COCU
More than ever, PSV need an Eredivisie championship and if Cocu can’t win it this year he may be dismissed in what will be only his second season in management. A legend at the club, this could be the season he reaches ‘hall of fame’ status.
KEY PLAYER – MEMPHIS DEPAY
Flamboyant left-winger Depay, still only 20, had a breakthrough season last campaign. After Dries Mertens’ departure to Napoli, Depay made himself a regular name on Philip Cocu’s team-sheet, with the PSV legend having complete faith in the youngster. Appearing in four World Cup matches this past summer, while notching twice, Depay looks to go from strength to strength in what has to be his last season in Eindhoven.
PREDICTION – 1ST
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