Tag Archives: Southampton

Could Tonny Vilhena be ready to call Sunderland, Bournemouth or Southampton home?

Although the Dutch are not going to be at the European championships this summer, there is still a lot of very talented players coming through and several of them will be targets for European clubs this window. The three big names that I expect to be attracting interest are Anwar El Ghazi, Jetro Willems and Tonny Vilhena. In this article, I’ll be concentrating on Vilhena, who could leave this window, due to his contract wrangle with Feyenoord at the moment. He looks set to leave the club with Giovanni van Bronckhurst admitting that much recently writes Jake Jackman.

The types of clubs that have been linked with Tonny Vilhena aren’t the biggest, despite his undoubted potential. Sunderland, AFC Bournemouth and Southampton have been credited with an interest in the attacking midfielder, but none of these sides are in the greatest health at the moment, which might lead to Vilhena leaving it until the summer to move. Ronald Koeman has spoken out about his interest in the player he managed for a period at Feyenoord and that could be the best fit for him, as it’s unlikely that either Eddie Howe or Sam Allardyce know the midfielder’s game as well as Koeman does. Although the English media believe that Sunderland are the favourites to sign him, Allardyce’s treatment of Jeremain Lens could leave Vilhena with doubts about moving to the North East, especially considering the club’s perilous league position.

Vilhena has hardly had a great contribution to Feyenoord’s season to date, only starting in three Eredivisie matches, but he did manage to score in the club’s last two fixtures before the winter break. The midfielder has two goals and two assists this season, with a goal involvement every 107.8 minutes, which is a very good return and begs the question why he hasn’t been used more. He is best served as a number ten, which is a possible that Feyenoord haven’t always used this season and this may be part of his reason for leaving.

The Feyenoord midfielder is attacking minded, which is why he has struggled to break into the side this season as he can be lazy defensively when used as part of a midfield three. His best position is as a number ten, with his movement being one of the major strengths to his game. He knows when to stay deep and when to make surging runs into the box. He is also an excellent finisher with both his feet and his head. As expected from a Dutch youth international, Vilhena is very good when passing the football, with the ability to play defence-splitting passes.

In a period of precariousness for Dutch football, Vilhena will have a great belief in his ability to be a big part of the future. There remain doubts about his attitude after he was involved in a bust up with team-mate Miquel Nelom in recent times. Feyenoord may be even keener to do a deal for the midfielder this month as he is obviously looking for a move, and that won’t have a good impact on the overall morale of the squad. Feyenoord have a very good chance of achieving something this season as they are only two points off PSV in second and five off Ajax, after a good first half of the season.

I think Vilhena is a very talented individual, who is struggling to push on, which is why he is trying to move to another club. He has the ability to play in the Premier League and he will take a lot of confidence from the way Gini Wijnaldum has settled into the league. Although he is nowhere near as complete as Wijnaldum, they are similar players and that will be the level Vilhena is trying to hit in the next few years. Southampton would be the best fit for him, if that deal can be salvaged. If he goes to Sunderland as is being rumoured by some media outlets, that move could do more damage than good for his career long term as Allardyce isn’t known for being a fan of players like Vilhena.



Click on Jacob’s name above to follow him on Twitter.

TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Is Virgil van Dijk is the man to lead the Dutch defence?

When making the transition south of the border from the SPFL to the Premier League questions will naturally be asked of a player’s credentials; something Virgil van Dijk recognised himself: “The standard is much quicker than in Scotland. The ball is like a pinball machine. You have to concentrate. It took me some time to get used to it but I’m doing all right now.”

However, those who had followed Van Dijk during his time with the Scottish steamroller, Celtic, will know that these questions were gratuitous. The 24-year-old has taken to Premier League life with aplomb and Southampton and the Oranje are the beneficiaries writes Alex Blinston.

While Van Dijk may have flattered to deceive in the recent loss to Czech Republic, it was – as has been well documented – a scandalous showing from the whole Dutch side, so it would be foolish to evaluate Van Dijk’s second cap with a fine-tooth comb.

The departure of Toby Alderweireld from St Mary’s gave Ronald Koeman the task of finding a new partner to club captain Jose Fonte, with the Dutchman eventually opting for his compatriot. The £11.5 million that it took for Celtic to part with Van Dijk represented a sizeable investment – it made him the most The Saints most expensive defender in their history – but so far Koeman’s men are reaping great rewards from their investment.

Last term Southampton conceded just 33 goals – a tally only bettered by eventual champions Chelsea – and back-to-back clean sheets against Bournemouth and Sunderland are showing signs of real defensive steel, something which Van Dijk has been an integral part of.

Hitherto, only six players average more clearances in the Premier League than the 24-year-old (7.9) and Van Dijk making 93% of the tackles he attempts. While you’d expect someone of a 6ft 4in frame to be domineering in the air, Van Dijk posts exceptional aerial duel figures by any measure. Only Sebastian Bassong has won more aerial battles (47) than Van Dijk (46) in the Premier League this term, but to give this context it has taken him 360 minutes more to do so. Furthermore, the Dutchman averages a successful aerial battle every 15.1 minutes of action, a tally only Calum Chambers can boast to better.

While Van Dijk is evidently stellar in his defensive duties, his ability in possession certainly can’t be overlooked. The fact that the centre-back pairing of Fonte and Van Dijk lead Southampton in average passes per game – first and second respectively – epitomises Ronald Koeman’s philosophy of playing out from the back. Southampton’s No.17 averages 47.9 passes per game and does so at an impressive 84.6% pass success rate, with van Dijk still yet to be dispossessed in the Premier League.

None of the centre-back trio that starred at the 2014 World cup – Stefan de Vrij (injury), Ron Vlaar and Bruno Martins Indi – were called up to Danny Blind’s most recent squad; now is the time for Van Dijk. With the Dutch now at rock bottom, expectations have been reset and it could – underline the word could – prove to be a fertile environment for Van Dijk and the fellow inexperienced members of the side. In Van Dijk, Terrence Kongolo, Joel Veltman and Jairo Riedewald, Blind has an abundance of young blood at the heart of defence and although it may not get the pulse racing, building solid defensive foundations to build on could prove to be the best option.

Arguments could certainly be made that Virgil van Dijk has been the standout defender in the Premier League this term – his Whoscored.com average rating (7.80) which ranks top of the pile of all defenders would certainly provide evidence to this. While the Southampton summer exodus has become a formality in recent times, van Dijk is in the perfect place to flourish, particularly with Koeman at the helm. Football is beautifully unpredictable and dynamics can easily change, but it is easy to envisage Virgil van Dijk and Ronald Koeman eventually teaming up with Het Wilhelmus ringing out.

*Stats courtesy of Opta Sports



Saints keen to seal £8m million deal for Celtic’s Van Dijk

  • Southampton are keen to sign defender Virgil van Dijk from Celtic this summer as they look too shore up their defence.
  • The Dutchman is likely to seek pastures new after his side was knocked out of the Champions League by Swedish side Malmo.
  • It is understood that Ronald Koeman is monitoring the situation and is set to offer £8 million for the 24 year-old.
  • The St. Mary’s side have previously been linked with Sven Van Beek and Terence Kongolo two versatile defenders who currently play for Koeman’s previous club Feyenoord in the Eredivisie.

Southampton are keen to sign Virgil Van Dijk from Scottish Champions Celtic for £8 million, which looks likely to happen before the end of the transfer window on Tuesday.  The Dutch centre back is said to favour a move away from Parkhead after his side were recently knocked out the Champions League by Swedish side Malmo in their recent qualifier on Tuesday night. The Dutch International has stated: “It’s a terrible way if it ends like this but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The defender is also thought to of known about the speculation regarding a move to the South Coast, but when asked he stated: “I can’t say anything. I think you need to ask the board. I don’t know what will happen in the coming days. Celtic is an amazing club and I’m very thankful for everything they have done for me.”

Van Dijk was signed in 2013 by Celtic for a fee of around £2.5 million, from FC Groningen were he spent a full season, before moving to Ronny Delia’s side on a four-year deal. At 6ft 4ins he has the physical stature to deal with the rigours of Premier League football.

He was part of the defence that went 1,215 minutes without conceding a goal, breaking the 43-year-old Scottish League record set by Aberdeen’s keeper Bobby Clark. Van Dijk has also won Celtic’s player of the year award for 2014.

With Toby Alderweireld signing for Tottenham Hotspur and Sven Van Beek along with Terence Kongolo interest cooling, boss Ronald Koeman will be looking to get the deal over line as soon as possible.

Arsenal and Swansea have also been linked with the defender in recent times. It is thought that the defender may prefer the switch to Southampton after Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama have both made the move to the Saints from Celtic.


Click on Sam’s name above to follow him on Twitter.






Southampton have already played some pre-season friendlies in the Netherlands against FC Groningen and Feyenoord (both 3-0 victories). The difference between the Saints and those two clubs was crystal clear. Which is not that strange based on their budget and that of Groningen & Feyenoord writes Martijn Hilhorst. Unfortunately for Vitesse, they are not that different from the teams who were already beat by Ronald Koeman’s men. The ‘Arnhemmers’ did have a great season with superb tactician Peter Bosz as their manager, but they did took a big hit this transfer window. Losing Marco Vejinovic and Davy Pröpper to Feyenoord and PSV respectively while first choice striker Bertrand Traoré returned to Chelsea after a loan spell at the Dutch outfit. Apparently, Chelsea was highly satisfied with the cooperation with Vitesse, because they have send Nathan, Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown & Danlio Pantic all on loan to ‘FC Hollywood aan de Rijn’ for the upcoming season.

One of the players who played wonderfully in both matches was Dusan Tadic. The Serbian playmaker played for FC Groningen and FC Twente in the Eredivisie before making the move abroad. He’s well known in the Netherlands, which could come in handy when Vitesse are facing him and ten other Southampton players this Thursday. It’s safe to say that Tadic is one of Saints’ key players; on the other side, we have a very similar player in Valeri Qazaishvili. The Georgian playmaker really showed his potential last season (he was our number 12 in #TDFTop50). ‘Vako’ now has the burden on his shoulder to take control at midfield with his fellow colleagues Vejinovic and Pröpper leaving.

Koeman has already stated in Dutch media that his side are favourites for the double confrontation with his former club Vitesse, because ‘Southampton are better in every aspect than Vitesse, especially when it comes to physique’. While we at TDF would love to see every Dutch club succeed, we do not expect that Vitesse will qualify for the next round as the Saints are basically too good to conquer. Thankfully, we can also ‘cheer’ for ‘The Saints’, who are the proud owners of the Eredivisie finest footballers we have produced over the last couple of seasons.


Date: 30-7-2015 (20.05PM UK Time) UK TV: BT Sport 1 Stadium: St Mary’s (SOLD OUT; 32.500 fans, 1.500 from Vitesse) Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano Assistants: Angel Nevado Rodríguez / José Miranda Fourth Official: Santiago Jaime

Probable Line-Ups

Southampton (4-2-3-1): Stekelenburg, Soares, Yoshida, Fonte, Targett; Wanyama, Clasie; Mané, Davis, Tadic; Pellè

Vitesse (4-3-3): Room; Diks, Kashia, Leerdam, Achenteh; Baker, Vako, Nakamba; Brown, Durjdjevic, Oliinyk.


Click on Martijn’s name above to follow him on Twitter


Where does the future lie for Jordy Clasie?

Jordy Clasie has been playing regularly for Feyenoord for four seasons now and he is the current captain, but the time might be coming for him to move on to pastures new. Feyenoord failed to perform like they did in the 2013/14 campaign and it could be the right time to leave the club. A fourth place finish was disappointing for Feyenoord and they need to get back to the top of the Dutch game next season and to do that they will need to spend money this summer. Although it will be difficult for the club to see Clasie move on, it would bring in much needed finances to fund their own transfer dealings writes Jack Jackman.

The midfielder has been linked to Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur in England, while he has been scouted by various other clubs across Europe. The link to Southampton is not surprising given that his former manager Ronald Koeman is the manager there and it looks to be a club that will suit the midfielder as Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Eljero Elia have all gone there and made an impact.

Clasie has the ability to settle and make an impact in the Premier League. He is a combative midfielder who is good at distributing the football, which makes him a rare commodity in the modern game. The role of the defensive midfielder is on the rise and the Dutchman fits the bill as a modern defensive midfielder who is a good tackler and is capable of dictating the tempo when his side is in possession. As is expected from Dutch footballers, he is good on the ball and has a great passing range. He is also known as one of the best set piece takers in the Eredivisie, which will add a couple of million onto his price tag.

At the age of 23, Clasie has the potential to go on and be a regular for the Dutch national side having picked up 11 caps already for Oranje. The Eredivisie is a great league to develop in for young players and Clasie has benefited from playing competitive football at a high level since his teens, but it’s difficult to become a top player without moving to one of Europe’s bigger leagues.

This season has been a good one for Clasie scoring twice and getting six assists which is a good return for a defensive minded midfielder. His passing, through balls and set pieces have stood out, while he is also an excellent reader of the game as testified by his tackling and interception stats. His passing accuracy of 83.6 highlights his ability on the ball and shows that he is capable of retaining possession.

This summer is going to be an interesting one for Feyenoord as they once again try to rebuild and put together a side good enough to match the side they had under Ronald Koeman. However they may have to do it without Clasie who looks like he will be leaving for pastures new and it could be Koeman who takes him away from the club. Southampton will need to buy a new centre midfielder if they lose Morgan Schneiderlin and Clasie would be the perfect replacement. He knows Koeman and the set up is there for him to make an immediate impact.


Click on Jacob’s name above to follow him on Twitter.

TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

How Koeman’s Dutch revolution has possibly changed Southampton forever

It was 16th June 2014, Southampton Football club appoint Dutch legend, free scoring former Dutch international centre back Ronald Koeman as manager after he left Feyenoord at the end of a three year stint, where he managed to guide the Rotterdam side to two second place finishes and one third place finish, becoming a fan favourite in the process. Little did he know what would lie ahead writes Max Griffin.

After The Saints managed back to back promotions to rejoin England’s elite, finishing 14th and then eighth in alternating seasons under the guide of the cold and calculated Nicola Cortese the signs were looking good – ‘little Southampton’ were on the up. Steadily the club were writing off their debt, left from the financial crisis at the club that landed them with a ten point deduction and in League One (England’s third tier). However, slowly but surely they were re-finding there feet in the Premier League, a division they were in for 27 years consecutively before being relegated in 2005. The eighth place finish the club managed at the end of the 2013/14 season under the guide of Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino showed that the club’s progression under Cortese was ongoing. The South-coast side jumping six places from the 2012/13 season where Pochettino had come in to steer the club from the threat of relegation, (replacing fan favourite Nigel Adkins to wide criticism), speculation was rife and rightly so.

Finishing eighth was one off a Europa League qualification place and players such as Dejan Lovren, Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin were all touted as targets for clubs bigger than Southampton, such as Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal. As if this wasnt bad enough speculation was begging to mount that Cortese, the man who Southampton supposedly owed their regained Premier League status too was once again dropping hints he may leave the club, with Pochettino likely to follow suit. Cortese was spouting that he would leave the club if he was not allowed more control over the day to day running of the club from owner Katharina Liebherr, including more money for transfers. An agreement was not reached and on the 15th January 2014, Southampton accepted Cortese’s resignation, and so began the clubs famous ‘meltdown’.

Just days after Cortese’s resignation, Pochettino was fielding questions about his future at the club, as in the 2012/13 season he said he did not see a future at the club without Cortese, his direct quote being ‘me on a personal sense, I would not understand a Southampton without Nicola being here’ – he refused to answer directly to questions about his future, saying that he would play out the season and talk to the board when all was done. On the 27th May 2014, Pochettino was unveiled as manager of Tottenham Hotspur. The two most influential men at the club who all the players signed and played for, were gone. Instantly speculation arose with the Saints players being linked with new clubs left, right and centre, the club was in free-fall. Something needed to happen and fast.

Up steps Ronald Koeman with his brother Erwin as his assistant (the first time the Dutch legends had worked together in the dugout), signing a three-year deal, it was just the lift the club needed, a big name in football with a reputation. Early signs were positive, with Koeman and the clubs new director Les Reed speaking positively about keeping the current squad together and building from the top half finish they had the season before, but in the modern game players have all the power.

Despite their efforts one by one the Southampton exodus began, young left-back Luke Shaw signing for Manchester United, captain Adam Lallana signing for Liverpool, along with Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren. All in all, the Saints lost five of their key players, making over £90 million in the process – Koeman was not deterred. With the club being touted for relegation back to the Championship and having a miserable season to follow their even more miserable summer, things looked bleak. The famous Koeman brothers had a big task on their hands, and a rebuilding task that scared even the shrewdest of operators.

Koeman acted fast, blocking a move for Morgan Schneiderlin to follow Pochettino to Tottenham, the news coming from the club was that the selling was over, now it was time to rebuild, in the Dutchman’s image.  Investing the transfer money straight back into the squad, which was vastly depleted of resources. In came the cavalry, with the club making a string of big money signings, to match the new direction the club wanted to go in. First in from the Eredivisie came attacking playmaker Dusan Tadic (one of the league’s hottest properties) from FC Twente, and from Koeman’s former club Feyenoord – Graziano Pelle. Two players who understood wholly Koeman’s footballing philosophy and style, the fans were beginning to be won over and believe not everything was bleak.

Following Tadic and Pelle came Fraser Forster, Florin Gardoș, Shane Long, Ryan Bertrand, Sadio Mane and most importantly Belgian international Toby Alderweireld – a ball playing centre back, schooled in Ajax who played the Dutch way. As a signing it was a massive statement of intent that Southampton where looking to improve, despite their summer of turmoil Southampton seemed to have a well rounded squad, that was in fact stronger than last season’s and was capable of at least staying up.

The players that had been brought in, proved Koeman was looking to stick to his principles of building from the back, bringing in three defenders and a goalkeeper. He was moulding his squad to be flexible, playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with attacking full backs and aggressive ball playing centre midfielder’s sitting in front of the defence, his philosophy was to play attractive, passing football, the Dutch way as he was taught by mentor and former manager Johan Cruyff. He wanted a side who could play out from the back, but mix it up and be hard when needed to be. The combination worked. From early on in the season everyone could see what Koeman was trying to do and that he was not far off from creating a real force in the English game.

The season started of with a 2-1 loss away to Liverpool, the side who had poached three of Southampton’s key players from last season. The remaining players had something to prove. Despite the loss, they were impressive – pressing Liverpool, having much of the possession, the goal coming from neat passing in and around the Liverpool box when a Tadic backheel through the legs of Lovren opened up the defence, on ran Nathaniel Clyne from right back to rifle home a finish into the top corner. The goal epitomized everything Koeman was trying to achieve, attractive passing football, with attacking full backs looking to cause havoc in the oppositions half. Despite the loss, the Southampton players could hold there heads high, knowing if they carried on in this vain that they would be okay.

After the loss to Liverpool came a 0-0 draw at home to West Brom, then everything clicked. On came a six-game winning streak. Solid at the back, free scoring in attack, a 4-0 win over Newcastle and most notably a 2-1 away win to Arsenal in the Capital One cup where Koeman’s men were particularly impressive. They have carried on in a similar vain all season, including beating Sunderland by a massive 8-0 at St.Mary’s where Tadic and Pelle particularly shone, continuing to prove that Koeman knew his stuff in the transfer market.

Despite threatening to challenge for top four and Champions League qualification all season, Southampton have fallen short. This was always to be inevitable because of the spending power and deeper squads the league’s elite have but despite this, they have never abandoned their principles playing the same way in the 8-0 victory and the disappointment of a quarter-final Capital One Cup loss to League One outfit Sheffield United. With the strong partnership of Jose Fonte alongside Alderweireld, Southampton have got one of the strongest defensive records in Europe, something Koeman should be understandably proud of. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster being top of the clean sheets charts with 13 clean sheets all before getting injured against Burnley in march and missing the rest of the season, proves just how solid the base that Koeman has built is.

It’s one of the top defences in all of Europe’s top 5 ‘power leagues’ and they also have the fewest goals conceded by individual errors, proving that they are well drilled and are switched on, focused on the task in hand. They’ve also broken the clubs points record in the Premier League, it’s the best the club have ever done since the formation of the division in 1992, with a record finish of at least seventh and potential Europa League football on the horizon.

The club have once again improved and if they can secure a top seven finish it would continue the steady progression of the club, from 14th, to 8th to top seven in three years would be a massive achievement, European football for the first time since 2003 when they qualified through being runners up in the FA cup would be quite something for a club of Southampton’s size. Potential champions league football could be on the horizon if the club continues to improve in this way, especially under the safe hands of Ronald and Erwin.

Because of his achievements, Koeman has major plaudits coming his way being linked with major jobs elsewhere, such as at his beloved Barcelona where he is a club hero and the Holland national team (touted for the job by fellow Dutch legend Ronald De Boer) he has denied interest in all of them….for now. Loyalty being a major thing for Koeman, one of his many desirable qualities, but when his contact is up at the end of 2016/17 season, Koeman is sure to move onto pastures new, a club/country matching his ability,  such as Barcelona.

If there’s one thing you should know about Koeman and his tenure at the South Coast side, its that the club will never be the same. His eye for detail means no stone is unturned and when he leaves he will surely leave the club in a much healthier state then when he took over, making Southampton a consistent, top-ten quality side capable of being a player in the European game.

The Dutch revolution at Southampton may have just begun, but its clear to see that when he leaves, Southampton will never be the same side again. Once a League One side, hours from going out of business, into a quality Premier League team. It can be argued that much like with the sacking of Adkins and replacement with Pochettino, if it had not have happened this natural progression that’s taken place at the club may not have happened at all. Perhaps the club would have been just treading water, although it seemed a disaster at the time Pochettino moving on seems to have been a blessing in disguise, Southampton have been majorly brought on by the quality of ‘Tintin’ and long may it continue.


Click on Max’s name above to follow him on Twitter.

Southampton’s Eljero Elia: The Saints’ story so far

In September 2009, a vital World Cup qualifier between The Netherlands and Scotland was locked at 0-0 with a little over 15 minutes of the match left. At this point, Arjen Robben, the Netherlands star man, and most dangerous player on the night, was somewhat surprisingly replaced by a largely unknown 21 year old, his name? Eljero Elia. Elia went on to expertly round the keeper and grab an 82nd minute winner for the Dutch, maintaining their 100% record. Since then, Elia’s career has had its ups and downs, but he is now back in the spotlight after his move to Premier League side Southampton. So, what is the story so far, of the player once dubbed The Netherlands golden boy? Fin Crebolder tells all…


Lets go back to 2004, where Elia was a 17 year old prodigy playing at ADO Den Haag. He had been at ADO since 1996, although he spend did two years at Ajax from 2000 to 2002, before returning to ADO Den Haag. He had excelled in the youth team for many years, and made his long awaited debut in 2004 against Groningen. He went on to make 4 appearances for the club that season, scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win over AZ Alkmaar. After this breakthrough season, he established himself as a consistent starter for the club, making 56 appearances, scoring 8 goals and getting 4 assists. At the end of the 2006/07 season, it became apparent that Elia was to leave the club. He had conflicts with the coach, Lex Schoenmaker, and also had no intention of playing in the Eerste Divisie (ADO had been relegated). Ajax showed in interest in him, but the deal involved him being loaned back to ADO Den Haag for a season, which he had no intention of doing.


Elia joined FC Twente on July the 1st, 2007, for a fee of around €180,000. He made his debut in a 2-2 draw against Utrecht in August, but didn’t score his first goal until February, in a 2-1 win over Heracles Almelo. He made 36 appearances that season, scoring two goals and assisting two. The 2008/09 season proved to be a pivotal one in Elia’s career, largely due to the appointment of Steve McClaren. McClaren managed to create a side capable of winning the Eredivisie title, and Elia was pivotal to the sides success. He scored 14 goals in all competitions including 9 in the league, and also got 10 assists, a vast improvement on his previous season. Over the course of the season, Elia also made his Champions League debut and scored his first European goal in the Europa League against Manchester City. In the January of the season, Ajax stated their interest in him and had two offers rejected. Elia ended the speculation by signing a contract keeping him at the club until 2013. At the end of the season, Elia was named Dutch Football Talent of the Year.


Despite signing a new contract, Elia stated that he wanted to leave the club at the end of the season. After his excellent season, many clubs around Europe showed interest in him, and on the 5th of July 2009, Hamburg signed him for €8.5 Million. He made his debut a month later, coming on as a substitute in the opening game of the season against Freiburg, and scored his first goal for the club two weeks later, in a 4-2 win over Wolfsburg. He made 35 appearances over the course of the season, scoring six and creating nine goals. This impressive debut season in Germany earned him a place in The Netherlands 2010 World Cup squad. He made a large impact in South Africa, coming off the bench to good effect in six of seven games in the Dutch run to the final, including a 50 minute appearance in the final, where The Netherlands lost 1-0 to Spain in the dying minutes of extra time. However, this season proved to be the peak of Elia’s career so far, as his career began to take a downhill trajectory. In his second season at Hamburg, Elia was often rotated, playing a full 90 minutes only nine times over the course of the season. This left him considering his options, and his future at the club looked to be in further jeopardy when he claimed to the press that the club’s style of play didn’t suit him, and also said that the club didn’t look after him when he was sidelined through injury. He was subsequently fined for his comments, and it appeared inevitable that he would leave the club sooner or later.


On the 31st of August 2011, four games into his third season at Hamburg, Elia signed for Juventus for a fee of €9 Million. This proved to be Elia’s worst career move by a long way, as he struggled to make any impact at all in what was an incredible season for “The Old Lady”. Due to Conte’s preference to play a 3-5-2 formation with wings backs, Elia very rarely found a place in the team, and made just five appearances all season, starting just one game, despite the fact that he didn’t have any injuries or suspensions throughout. Due to this catastrophic season for him, Elia missed out on a spot in The Netherlands Euro 2012 squad.


In an attempt to revive his now stalled career, Elia requested a transfer on the 11th of June 2012, and returned to the Bundesliga a month later, this time playing for Werder Bremen, who paid €5.5 Million for his services. He struggled in his first seven appearances, and admitted that he was finding it difficult to adapt to the teams style of play. He went on to make 25 appearances in his first season, but only scored one goal, in the DFB-Pokal. He was also suspended by the club after he was caught speeding. Despite a disappointing first season, the club decided against selling him, and he made an encouraging start to the 13/14 season, scoring two goals in  a 3-3 draw with Nuremberg. He also found the back of the net in two consecutive games against Mainz and Hoffenheim in late November. He ended the season with four goals and four assists, and became a fan favourite due to his exciting and eccentric style. Elia started the 14/15 campaign in the starting line-up, and got an assist in the opening day fixture. However, illness coupled with a controversial tweet in the build up to the derby against his former club, Hamburg, meant that he was dropped from the first team, and he struggled to cement a spot in the starting lineup after that, largely due to his attitude, along with the impressive form of winger Fin Bartels.


That brings us to present day, where Elia is currently plying his trade at Premier League side Southampton, following Ronald Koeman’s decision to bring him in on loan. Elia has had an impressive start at the club currently 3rd in the league, causing havoc for defences with his pace and trickery, and exciting fans and pundits alike. He scored his first goals for the club when he bagged a brace in a 2-1 brace over Liverpool. Whilst it is evident that Elia will never become the global superstar he once promised to be, at a rising club like Southampton, under the management of his compatriot Koeman, Elia still has time to surpass his previous achievements, and maybe even become a key player for the Oranje once again.


Click on Fin’s name above to follow him on Twitter.

Evaluation of the 2014/15 Eredivisie Exports

In this piece, Jake Jackman focuses on five players who departed the Eredivisie this summer and determining whether they have been a hit or miss so far for their new club. Obviously it’s far too early to judge any player in his new environment, but these are initial reactions to the opening half of the season.

Graziano Pelle

The Italian has had a rather up and down career after failing to make it in his native Italy, but the past few seasons have been exceptional for Pelle, with his performances leading to a call up to the national side in September. The striker scored on his Italian debut, and he could be a late bloomer on the international scene becoming a top striker for Italy in the process. Many were doubting Southampton and some of their summer signings, but the side from the South Coast have been brilliant so far. The Italian has scored 9 in all competitions for Southampton so far, making him a great signing. He has scored 64 goals in his last 77 games in all competitions making him one of the hottest properties in football at the moment. Feyenoord struggled at the beginning of the season and it’s obvious to see why, any side would miss a goalscorer of Pelle’s class.

Verdict: HIT

Alfred Finnbogason

The former Heerenveen striker actually outscored Pelle in last season’s Eredivisie and many would have expected him to make a name for himself yet in Spain. He has only started twice for Real Sociedad and he is yet to break his duck. This is a player who had a lot of interest last summer, including some from the Premier League, and the Spanish league may not be the one best suited to him and it’s showing early in his Sociedad career. The Finn scored 29 league goals last season, his finishing ability is undoubted, which is why I expect him to make an impact in Spain once he has settled, but at the moment it isn’t going his way.

Verdict: MISS

Stefan De Vrij

Lazio got themselves a bargain when they signed the Dutch World Cup star from Feyenoord as the defender has slotted seamlessly into their defence and impressed over the opening matches of the Serie A. He may have already been sent off in Italy, but he has been very assured in the back line, making 3.3 interceptions per match. The organisational aspect of the Italian game will have a positive effect on de Vrij, who will continue to improve. It’s unlikely that this is going to be the biggest move of his career as he has the potential to become a top class player in one of the world’s major leagues.

Verdict: HIT

Daryl Janmaat

Another player that departed Feyenoord was right back Daryl Janmaat, who has become one of the first names on Alan Pardew’s team sheet in the North East of England. He has started every Premier League match for the Magpies this season, while he has yet to miss a minute of football in the league this season. The right back has started well in England, scoring a goal in his second match at St James’ Park. In every match he has played, he has been a massive threat going forwards, especially when he cuts inside and unleashes powerful shots from distance. He was signed to replace Mathieu Debuchy and at the moment, he looks like he has the ability to surpass the Frenchman’s achievements in the Newcastle side, already leveling Debuchy’s goal count.

Verdict: HIT

Dusan Tadic

Southampton signed another one of the best players of last season’s Eredivisie in Dusan Tadic, who was known for his creativity in FC Twente’s side. Last season, he contributed 16 goals and 14 assists, which is an incredible return from midfield. He has already shown his incredible eye for a pass on the South Coast, contributing six assists to date, including four against Sunderland alone. The Serbian also has one goal to his name. He hasn’t shown the goal threat he showed in the Eredivisie, but that will grow as he adjusts to the division. He is having 2.7 shots per game, highlighting that he is getting in goalscoring positions, he is just yet to become clinical in front of goal in England, but there is no doubt he has been great for Southampton this season

Verdict: HIT

The players above highlight the quality in the Eredivisie and the successes of these players will only bring more scouts to Holland on a weekly basis, which is positive for the league, especially when it comes to finances. The new batch of players making a name in the Eredivisie will know that performing in Holland will see them get opportunities to move to bigger leagues and as the above players show, it’s possible to be a big success away from the Eredivisie.


Click on Jacob’s name above to follow him on Twitter.

TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Five Things To Expect In 2015

The year of 2014 is over, and it was undoubtedly a year to remember for Dutch football. A largely unfancied National Team finished 3rd place in the World Cup, demolishing Spain 5-1 on the way, Frank de Boer won a fourth consecutive title with Ajax, becoming the first manager to do so, and Louis van Gaal took on one of the biggest jobs in management when he when he was appointed as the Manchester United manager. 2015 is sure to be another big year, but just what can we expect?

Frank de Boer will leave Ajax

In 2010, off the pitch, Ajax was in turmoil, with Johan Cruyff clashing with the board. On the pitch however, Frank de Boer was on his way to his first eredivisie title with the Dutch giants. He has gone on to win three more league titles, playing the “Ajax way”, focusing on developing the club’s youngsters and playing an attractive style of football. He has gained many plaudits for this and has attracted the interest of some of Europe’s top clubs in recent seasons, but has always claimed to be happy at Ajax, saying that he wants to do well in Europe with them before he leaves. However, yet again his Ajax side fell at the first hurdle in the Champions League, and at the age of 44, with his stock higher than ever, it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll leave for one of Europe’s major leagues. As for his successor…

Jaap Stam will take over the reigns at Ajax

Due to the revolution of 2010 at Ajax, the majority of staff now are former players, that include the likes of Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp, Edwin van der Sar, Wim Jonk and Jaap Stam. When Frank de Boer leaves, it is likely that Ajax will appoint someone within their ranks to replace him. Overmars and Van der Sar both have roles off the pitch, whilst Bergkamp has stated that he never wants to become a manager. That leaves Wim Jonk and Jaap Stam, and whilst de Boer has stated that he thinks they could both do a good job, Stam seems like the more likely option.

Ronald Koeman will win Manager of the Season

At the end of last season, Southampton lost their manager, Mauricio Pochettino to Spurs, and also lost many of their star players to bigger English clubs, so by the time Ronald Koeman had taken charge, many pundits tipped them to struggle, and some even said they could be drawn into a relegation battle. However, Koeman brought in two players who had been excellent in the Eredivisie for the past two seasons in Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle, and has lead the team to an impressive start in the league, currently sitting fourth in the table, and if they can hold on for a top four finish, Koeman will surely be crowned the Premier League’s manager of the season, surpassing the achievements of his predecessor, even after losing many key players.

Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordy Clasie will leave the Eredivisie

2014 was the year that many of the biggest Dutch talents left the Eredivisie after impressing at the 2014 World Cup. Daley Blind moved to English giants Manchester United, Bruno Martins-Indi moved to Portuguese powerhouses Porto, whilst Stefan de Vrij and Daryl Janmaat moved to Lazio and Newcastle respectively. However, Jordy Clasie, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay all decided to stay at their Dutch clubs for another season. All three have continued to impress in Holland and are attracting the interest of Europe’s biggest clubs. Clasie and Wijnaldum have both performed well on the pitch and have demonstrated good leadership skills in captaining their respective teams. Both have been linked with teams abroad, with Italy looking like likely destinations for both of them. With 10 goals and 3 assists in 13 appearances, Depay is clearly too good for the league, and is destined for much bigger things, with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United showing interest.

PSV will break their seven year title drought

PSV were the dominant team in Holland from 1999 to 2007, winning seven league titles, and even reaching the Champions League semi-final in 2005, narrowly missing out on reaching the final. However, since then, Louis van Gaal has led AZ to the Eredivisie title, Steve McClaren did the same with FC Twente in 2008-09 and Frank de Boer’s Ajax have dominated since then. This season though, Phillip Cocu has built a young side capable of reclaiming the title. With the likes of Depay, Wijnaldum and Willems leading the charge, it looks like Ajax’s four year reign is about to be over, and with a four point lead at the top of the table, PSV hold their fate in their own hands, and come May, should be champions.

Ron Vlaar will join a bigger club

Ron Vlaar, the Aston Villa captain, has been linked with a move away from Villa Park for the last year, due to his contract expiring at the end of the season. Vlaar’s stock rose due to impressive performances at the World Cup, including a semi-final performance in which he silenced Lionel Messi. It is likely that Vlaar will want to seek a move to a bigger club, it is just a question of when. Villa can either cash in on him in January or choose to keep hold of him until the end of the season and let him go on a free transfer. Arsenal and Liverpool have both been linked with him, but with Van Gaal at the helm, and the side in need of defensive reinforcements, Manchester United looks like the most likely destination.


Click on Fin’s name above to follow him on Twitter.

Former Ajax defender signs for Southampton

According to reports,Toby Alderweireld (25) had three different Premier League clubs to choose from: Newcastle United, Sunderland and Southampton. He chose latter to play for this season. A remarkable luxury position for a player who just had an awful season.  The Saints will loan him the upcoming season from Atletico Madrid. Will he succeed in the Premier League? Martijn Hilhorst fully aware of the Belgian’s achievements in the Eredivisie, thinks he will.

The Summer Deadline Day of 2013 was one to be sad about for Ajax fans. On this day, Toby Alderweireld left them for Atletico Madrid for a transfer fee of £6 million. A year later he again decides to leave on the last day possible. Should Atletico fans be sad with his departure? Yes! It emerges that he would not play as a centre back with Diego Godin and Miranda ahead of him, but with a possible injury he could easily fill that gap. Southampton have made an absolute top signing with the Belgian international if you look closely to his qualities.

He became the first choice in the heart of defence at Ajax in the season 2008/09 after the departure of Thomas Vermaelen to  Arsenal. He and Jan Vertonghen were the central defenders that season and surprising everyone with great performances as the central defensive pairing. Vertonghen was the more footballing centre back while Toby’s job was to man-mark the central striker and they were brilliant. A stat to prove it: 2007/08: 41 goals conceded then in 2008/09: 20 goals conceded. Since that fantastic season no team in the Eredivisie conceded less.

His concentration is world-class. Give him an task and he will fulfil it wonderfully. Alderweireld is surprisingly fast for a big guy (six-foot two-inches) and his technical abilities are off the chain. Passing, composure and pure technique are attributes you would not expect from a defender. That’s not all! He is excellent in the air and his long range shots are frighteningly accurate for a centre-back.

Underneath is a list of remarkable achievements of Toby Alderweireld’s career:


A uncountable amount of clubs wanted him after winning three consecutive championships with Ajax. He then chose for Atletico Madrid which seems was a big mistake. Both Miranda and Godin are top-notch centre backs and Alderweireld is not world-class. Not yet, because with his qualities it’s inevitable that he will succeed at Southampton.

*All stats courtesy of WhoScored and Squawka, via Opta.


Click on Martijn’s name above to follow him on Twitter

Southampton to look to Feyenoord’s Clasie as Schneiderlin replacement

De Telegraaf reported this morning that Southampton’s Dutch manager Ronald Koeman could look to recruit Feyenoord captain Jordy Clasie to as a replacement for midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin if a bid comes in for the Frenchman writes Will Burns.

Koeman of course has worked with Clasie before at Feyenoord and last season named the midfielder as club captain after striker Graziano Pelle was stripped of the armband for disciplinary problems. It is understood that Feyenoord will accept an offer of over €12m for the 23-year-old and the player could be moved on before the end of the European Transfer Window next Monday, 1st September.

Schneiderlin has been with the Premier League side for six years but he has publicity stated he would like to leave after being linked with moves to Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal by the British press. The 24-year-old delivered a Twitter outburst after the club’s hierarchy insisted Schneiderlin was not for sale – see below.

If Schneiderlin does get his own way and leaves the South Coast club, Clasie would be the perfect alternative. Great defensively as well as going forward, Clasie shields the back four as simultaneously beginning and orchestrating the forward play with his decisive passing.

Since he was 18-years-old, Clasie has been playing first time football in the Eredivisie, first loaned to Excelsior Rotterdam before in the midfield of Feyenoord.

Portuguese giants FC Porto have been linked all summer with a move for the player however it would seem if Southampton were interested, Clasie would jump to the chance of playing in the Premier League under former manager Koeman.


Click the name above to follow Will on Twitter.

TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Four Eredivisie players to help rebuild Southampton?

Like his former club Feyenoord, this past summer has seen Ronald Koeman’s new club Southampton of the Premier League totally diminished. The Saints have seen Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren all depart to join Liverpool, Luke Shaw has left for Manchester United and today, Callum Chambers signing for Arsenal.

Koeman has been left with a lot of rebuilding at Southampton and obviously, the Dutch coach knows the Eredivisie very well. This transfer window has already seen him raid Feyenoord to take Italian striker Graziano Pellè to St. Marys and Dušan Tadić has been recruited from FC Twente. Anyone watching the Dutch top flight over the last two seasons has saw Pellè and Tadić emerge as two of the very best the league had to offer, so it would not surprise anyone if Koeman will return to the league to boost his first team options.

Today, Will Burns looks at four potential targets in the Eredivisie that Koeman may wish to take to Southampton.

JEFFREY GOUWELEEUW (Central Defender – AZ Alkmaar)

Gouweleeuw is a 23-year-old defender who has over 100 Eredivisie appearances under his belt after quickly progressing through the youth teams at Heerenveen. He secured a move to AZ Alkmaar last summer and has excelled as a classy performer. For a 6ft 1in defender, he has outstanding feet with great confidence and has no doubts about carrying the ball out of defence. His excellent pace who fit in lovely with Southampton, breaking on the attack if needed, whilst also covering his colleagues at the back.

KAMOHELO MOKOTJO (Central Midfielder – PEC Zwolle)

Ron Jans stated that Mokotjo was the “buy of the summer” last year when the South African arrived from Feyenoord on a free transfer. Indeed he was, after helping Zwolle to their first ever KNVB Beker cup final in their 104 year history, they defeated the mighty Ajax 5-1. The 23-year-old is a hard-working, Duracell-bunny like midfielder who gives his all for the team and could shine in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.

JORDY CLASIE (Central Midfielder – Feyenoord)

Once nicknamed ‘the Dutch Xavi’, this 22-year-old midfielder has incredible vision and awareness, allowing him to play chess on the field and think of his next move. After making lots of interceptions, Clasie rarely loses possession and has the ability to control a match with his sharp passing. A tough-tackler that would add some meat to the Southampton midfield.

JEAN-PAUL BOËTIUS (Winger – Feyenoord)

Boëtius is a speed winger who combines pace with technique and creativity; he panics full-backs with his marauding runs.  Game after game he is proving to be a rising star which in fairness, however, at 20 years old he possibly could do with another year at Feyenoord to gain more experience. Nevertheless, Koeman may decide his confidence and no fear approach may help out at Southampton this season. He combined tremendously last season with Graziano Pelle in Rotterdam, he could do the same in Southampton.


Click the name above to follow Will on Twitter.

TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

Southampton interest for Celtic defender

While Gus Poyet sent scouts to watch Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, it appears the Dutchman is keen to team up with countryman Ronald Koeman at Southampton. It seems a prerequisite to declaring interest in the 23-year-old is that your club name starts with the letter S, with Swansea, Sunderland and now Southampton in the mix.

Celtic are looking for £10 million for their man, a figure that has scared away teams who enquired previously but with the Dejan Lovren to Liverpool rumours that just won’t go away and a decent transfer budget being handed to Koeman, he has van Dijk in his sights as a replacement for the Croatian if he leaves.

Koeman is desperate to hold on to the services of Lovren, but has stated that if he is to leave then only the healthiest of bids will suffice. The new Dutch boss also believed he has a capable replacement in the form of van Dijk, and with the Dutch connection, it is believed to be a move that both parties are keen on.


Click on Robbie’s name above to follow him on Twitter.