Tag Archives: Manchester United

PSV’s Jetro Willems – the perfect fit for Man Utd

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Will Burns presents a new series looking at current Eredivisie players that could fit right at home at your Premier League club.

The Dutch Eredivisie has been used as a stepping stone to the Premier League and other top leagues across Europe for years. For so long, young talent has been exported into England with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Edwin van der Sar, Jaap Stam, Marc Overmars, Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Luis Suarez excelling in their new surroundings. Dutch club football used to provide us with great teams challenging for top European honours with Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax clinching the European Cup (now the Champions League, to you youngsters out there) in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

However, since the Amsterdammers defeated AC Milan in May 1995, with a soon-to-be all star cast involving Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Jari Litmanen and the De Boer twins, Dutch football has saw a decline. Mainly due to the failure to keep up with the other leagues financially, the Eredivisie has seen their top players moving onto bigger sides and helping those sides become huge successes. With all the money flying about and regardless of what some may dispute, it’s hard to see UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rule creating a level playing field across Europe, allowing other leagues to catch up.

In recent transfer windows, Tottenham Hotspur have took advantage seeing Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen leave Ajax for White Hart Lane for big money moves and earlier, Liverpool picked up Luis Suarez for £22.8m and no-one can argue that he has not already paid a large chunk of that back.

You will not see the Premier League’s importing stars from the Eredivisie ending anytime soon, with low wages and Dutch clubs struggling financially, it’s an easy market for England’s top clubs and in this series I will pick English clubs and which players would suit them and make the short journey across the North Sea.

JETRO WILLEMS

CLUB – PSV
POSITION – LEFT BACK
AGE – 19

At just 19 years of age, he has cemented the left-back position at Phillip Cocu’s PSV and between him and Ajax’s Daley Blind, the left side of the Oranje’s defence for the upcoming World Cup and years beyond is looking strong. At just 18, he broke a 28-year-old record to become the youngest ever player in the history of Euro Championships when he started all three of the Netherlands games at Euro 2012.

Willems’ big break came in 2011 when he was part of the Oranje Under-17 team that demolished all competition in the UEFA European Under 17 tournament for the first time in their history. Willems’ contributions were standout and the fact that the Dutch did not concede a goal on the road to the final, where they defeated bitter rivals Germany by five goals to two.

After the tournament, a big transfer move was inevitable and Willems, who had begun his career in Dutch amateur football at Spartaan ’20 and then moved to Eerste Divisie side Sparta Rotterdam in the summer of 2010. The sharks were circling and Sir Alex Ferguson was ready to snap him up and wanted to bring the young Dutchman to Manchester United. However, as the majority of Dutch youngsters believe, he stayed in the Eredivisie to further his career and moved to PSV for a sum of €800,000. During that season, he ousted Erik Pieters out of the left-back position and made it his own, and PSV were quick to extend the youngster’s contract until 2016.

He started twenty Eredivisie matches, scoring a goal and assisting two. He became the youngest Dutch player ever to appear in a European match in a UEFA Europa League tie with Hapoel Tel Aviv. Then Netherlands national coach Bert van Marwijk included Willems in the 23-man squad for Euro 2012, it was thought to give him some experience being part of tournament squad and nothing more with Vurnon Anita, the first choice left-back.

To many’s surprise, on the team sheet for the opening game, Marwijk kept faith in the young 18-year-old, and it was a baptism by fire. The Dutch crashed out of the tournament losing three games out of three. However, as Willems started all three games, it was the experience that he needed to progress his game and has only grew stronger from it.

Of course at such a young age, Willems still has mistakes to make and a lot to learn yet but as of writing he has made 91 Eredivisie appearances and mastered perhaps the key area of the pitch in modern football. His rapid improvement in a short space of time has been incredibly impressive and his progress so far suggests he’s going to handle any tests coming his way.

Could he match the speed and strengths of the Premier League? Yes, physically strong with great pace, Willems would slot into Patrick Evra’s boots for seasons to come. Going forward he has the skill to beat any defender and his physicality and technique will hold him in good stead at Old Trafford. With names like Southampton’s Luke Shaw being bandied around as potential successors for Evra, Jetro Willems could be a cheaper and better all around replacement.

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TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Eredivisie to Premier League: Jetro Willems – Man Utd

Header-Eredivisie2PremierLeague

Will Burns presents a new series looking at current Eredivisie players that could fit right at home at your Premier League club.

The Dutch Eredivisie has been used as a stepping stone to the Premier League and other top leagues across Europe for years. For so long, young talent has been exported into England with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Edwin van der Sar, Jaap Stam, Marc Overmars, Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Luis Suarez excelling in their new surroundings. Dutch club football used to provide us with great teams challenging for top European honours with Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax clinching the European Cup (now the Champions League, to you youngsters out there) in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

However, since the Amsterdammers defeated AC Milan in May 1995, with a soon-to-be all star cast involving Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Jari Litmanen and the De Boer twins, Dutch football has saw a decline. Mainly due to the failure to keep up with the other leagues financially, the Eredivisie has seen their top players moving onto bigger sides and helping those sides become huge successes. With all the money flying about and regardless of what some may dispute, it’s hard to see UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rule creating a level playing field across Europe, allowing other leagues to catch up.

In recent transfer windows, Tottenham Hotspur have took advantage seeing Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen leave Ajax for White Hart Lane for big money moves and earlier, Liverpool picked up Luis Suarez for £22.8m and no-one can argue that he has not already paid a large chunk of that back.

You will not see the Premier League’s importing stars from the Eredivisie ending anytime soon, with low wages and Dutch clubs struggling financially, it’s an easy market for England’s top clubs and in this series I will pick English clubs and which players would suit them and make the short journey across the North Sea.

JETRO WILLEMS

CLUB – PSV
POSITION – LEFT BACK
AGE – 19

At just 19 years of age, he has cemented the left-back position at Phillip Cocu’s PSV and between him and Ajax’s Daley Blind, the left side of the Oranje’s defence for the upcoming World Cup and years beyond is looking strong. At just 18, he broke a 28-year-old record to become the youngest ever player in the history of Euro Championships when he started all three of the Netherlands games at Euro 2012.

Willems’ big break came in 2011 when he was part of the Oranje Under-17 team that demolished all competition in the UEFA European Under 17 tournament for the first time in their history. Willems’ contributions were standout and the fact that the Dutch did not concede a goal on the road to the final, where they defeated bitter rivals Germany by five goals to two.

After the tournament, a big transfer move was inevitable and Willems, who had begun his career in Dutch amateur football at Spartaan ’20 and then moved to Eerste Divisie side Sparta Rotterdam in the summer of 2010. The sharks were circling and Sir Alex Ferguson was ready to snap him up and wanted to bring the young Dutchman to Manchester United. However, as the majority of Dutch youngsters believe, he stayed in the Eredivisie to further his career and moved to PSV for a sum of €800,000. During that season, he ousted Erik Pieters out of the left-back position and made it his own, and PSV were quick to extend the youngster’s contract until 2016.

He started twenty Eredivisie matches, scoring a goal and assisting two. He became the youngest Dutch player ever to appear in a European match in a UEFA Europa League tie with Hapoel Tel Aviv. Then Netherlands national coach Bert van Marwijk included Willems in the 23-man squad for Euro 2012, it was thought to give him some experience being part of tournament squad and nothing more with Vurnon Anita, the first choice left-back.

To many’s surprise, on the team sheet for the opening game, Marwijk kept faith in the young 18-year-old, and it was a baptism by fire. The Dutch crashed out of the tournament losing three games out of three. However, as Willems started all three games, it was the experience that he needed to progress his game and has only grew stronger from it.

Of course at such a young age, Willems still has mistakes to make and a lot to learn yet but as of writing he has made 91 Eredivisie appearances and mastered perhaps the key area of the pitch in modern football. His rapid improvement in a short space of time has been incredibly impressive and his progress so far suggests he’s going to handle any tests coming his way.

Could he match the speed and strengths of the Premier League? Yes, physically strong with great pace, Willems would slot into Patrick Evra’s boots for seasons to come. Going forward he has the skill to beat any defender and his physicality and technique will hold him in good stead at Old Trafford. With names like Southampton’s Luke Shaw being bandied around as potential successors for Evra, Jetro Willems could be a cheaper and better all around replacement.

Name-WillBurns

Click the name above to follow Will on Twitter.

TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Celtic set to lose commanding defender?

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Celtic’s Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk is set to leave the Scottish Premiership champions at the end of the season according to his agent, Henk-Maarten Chin.

The 22-year old has been a revelation in the Celtic defence this season since his £2.6 million summer move from FC Groningen last year.

Due to his success he has been linked with a move away throughout the season with a host of Barclays Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City waiting in the wings to take the big Dutchman to the North-West of England.

Yesterday, his agent, Henk-Maarten Chin, stated that the Celtic defender could certainly be leaving Parkhead in the summer, although he did admit no club has bid so far.

Speaking to the Scotsman, Chin said: “There is certainly interest. Many English clubs are interested in him – many top clubs. They watch him and are very keen but there has been no official approach for Virgil yet, but that will come after the season ends.

“There’s certainly far more interest in him than we could have dreamed of and I expect something will happen for him this summer.”

“Celtic were completely outplayed by Barcelona, but Virgil was the only player who was OK and against AC Milan, he made a great impression in his battles against a top player like Mario Balotelli.”

The player is yet to comment on his agent’s words but one thing is for sure, it is every player’s dream to play for his country and since Van Dijk’s move to Scotland, he has been overlooked by Oranje coach Louis van Gaal despite the defender’s incredible form.

Van Gaal has been selecting young Eredivisie defenders like Ajax’s Joel Veltman, Feyenoord’s pair Stefan de Vrij and Terence Kongolo, PSV’s Jeffrey Bruma and Karim Rekik while these five players have showed weaknesses all season that Virgil has not.

Anyone who watched the Eredivisie last season will be shocked by Van Dijk’s exclusion in the Dutch squad but will not be surprised by the interest shown in him by other clubs. In fact I remember writing at the start of the season, my shock that this player chose Celtic to advance his career.

No disrespect to Scottish champions, as I am fully aware of the massive size and support of the club but I honestly thought a move to the Premiership, where the big money and the vast exposure is available for players, would have suited Van Dijk and especially his agent better.

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TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Miracle if Eriksen does not move to England next week

Dutch journalist Jaap de Groot, whom writes for De Telegraaf, has stated that it will be a ‘miracle’ if Ajax’s Christian Eriksen does not move to an English Premier League club this coming week.

Now the transfer window is closing and the clubs across Europe start to panic buy, De Groot assumes that Eriksen will leave Ajax this coming week: “The signs are showing now that a miracle must happen if the Dane not move to England over the next week. Perhaps to Liverpool, but another club could steal in to take him.”

Over the summer, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool have been strongly linked to the Danish international but it is understood that Tottenham Hotspur have also been involved in talks with Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars over a transfer.

It is no secret that Manchester United is also in the hunt for a central midfielder. David Moyes has asked his old club Everton to allow Belgian international Marouane Fellani move to Old Trafford after already rejecting a bid from Moyes. The Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright rejected the joint bid for Fellani and Leighton Baines earlier this week, so Moyes may have look elsewhere. Anyone who has watched Eriksen in his time at Ajax would agree that the Dane would fit right in behind Robin van Persie.

However only yesterday, it was reported in Italy that Serie A giants AC Milan have joined the race for Eriksen after the player turned down a move to Germany with Bayer Leverkusen this past week.

Milan have turned to the Ajax playmaker after admitting defeat in their pursuit of CSKA Moscow’s Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda, while AS Roma are also thought to be contemplating a bid if they lose Argentine midfielder Erik Lamela to Tottenham.

According to MilanNews.it, Italy, Spain and England remain the only likely destinations for the Dane, who has ruled out moves to Germany and Russia, despite strong interest from Leverkusen and Zenit St Petersburg. The website reports that Eriksen is open to a move to Italy after spending his recent summer holidays in Venice.

As previously stated, Eriksen reportedly wants Champions League football, a demand that would appear to rule out a move to Spurs and Liverpool.

That would appear to leave Manchester United or Milan in pole position for Eriksen providing the Italians are able to progress to the competition’s group stages this Wednesday night after drawing 1-1 with PSV in the first leg of their qualifying match last Tuesday.

Milan’s move for Honda has been one of the most protracted sagas of the off-season, but both sides now appear to have reached an impasse.

Juventus, who have automatically qualified for the Champions League group stages, were also previously credited with a move for Eriksen but AC Milan could beat their Serie A rivals to the 21-year-old’s signature as soon as next Wednesday when the second leg of their play-off against PSV takes place at the San Siro.

Wherever his destination, his assists, key passes, set-piece plays and powerful shooting will add something special to any team across the globe but the defending Eredivisie champions Ajax will miss him terribly. The Dane has already notched two goals in four games this campaign, even though the Amsterdammers have dropped points to currently sit fourth in the division.

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NEWS: Ajax to link up with Manchester United?

Ajax manager Frank de Boer

The partnership would see players from the Red Devils loaned to Ajax to gain great experience from first team football and although a plethora of transfers would be unlikely, with Ajax only likely to loan in areas they are in need of strengthening, it could potentially give Manchester United’s youth players a fantastic chance to experience a different footballing culture. The deal seems to be quite a simple one; United will send some of their best young and fringe players on loan to Ajax and in return they could have first refusal over some of the players linked with moves away from the Dutch club.

In an interview with Voetbal International, Frank de Boer said: “If Manchester United talent would prefer to gain experience with Ajax than in the lower divisions in England, then it can be a very interesting option.”

De Boer’s quotes come less than a week after Manchester United Dutch first-team coach Rene Meulensteen admitted to newspaper AD that loaning out the younger players would be a good idea with former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar playing a big role in getting the partnership started. “For our younger players it would be a good idea, rather play at Ajax than in the Championship, I’ll keep Edwin informed.”.

Now that Edwin van der Sar is working as the sporting director at Ajax, the move could prove extremely useful for both sides with the ex-United legend likely to play a key role if the partnership materialises.

Edwin van de Sar now Ajax’s Sporting Director

This season, Ajax have had Barcelona’s highly-rated winger Issac Cuenca on loan with the club and despite his problems with injuries, De Boer is hopeful that the player will go back to Spain with ‘enthusiastic stories’.  Barcelona are expected to have a long standing loan partnership with Ajax due to the link that Director of Football Marc Overmars provides, so the loan deal for Cuenca is likely to be the first of many.

Given Ajax’s globally renowned talent at creating and nurturing some of the worlds most gifted players including Dennis Bergkamp, Johan Cruyff, Patrick Kluverit, Edgar Davids, Marco van Basten and Wesley Sneijder, a move would be a great experience for any United youngsters and likely extremely beneficial.

If this deal does come off, and Manchester United do get first refusal on Ajax’s stars then I’m sure that Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen, Viktor Fischer and many more who could all make the 20-time champions a much stronger squad and a much stronger proposition to their rivals.

Ajax are not going to turn into a feeder club because they are under no obligation to sell players to United who don’t wish to move. The Eredivisie is a greatly underrated league in the context of European football and it allows United to get a stronger hold in terms of their scouting network in the Netherlands. It also potentially cuts off the supply line to their main rivals.

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