Over the years, the Netherlands First Division, Eredivisie has managed to produce some of the best young prospects in all of Europe. Frenkie de Jong, Christian Eriksen, and Georginio Wijnaldum are examples of players who’ve found great success after starting off in Holland.
One of the most talked-about midfielders in the Eredivisie right now is Ryan Gravenberch. The 18-year old is making waves because of the skill and potential he possesses at such a young age. However, although all that attention is well deserved, it’s taken the light off some other players who’re making significant strides of their own.
Here are some of the best midfielders you might’ve missed who’ll have scouts watching their every move.
Eredivisie: Players to Watch
Unquestionably one of the most exciting yet overlooked prospects in Europe, Ibrahim Sangaré could serve as a strong base for any top side.
The Ivorian international has been a force in defensive midfield this season for PSV Eindhoven. Amongst midfielders per match in the Eredivisie, Sangaré is 2nd in successful tackles (4.2), 5th in interceptions and 2nd in aerial duals won (3.5).
He has quickly become an integral cog in the midfield of PSV as they attempt to challenge Ajax in the league and in the Europa League.
These are very impressive stats due to how well rounded they are. A player who’s equally good at starting and breaking down attacks at a high level is very rare. If you were to blend the lanky ball-winner frame of Wilfred Ndidi with the accurate long-passing ability of Paul Pogba, Sangaré would be the result.
He’s athletically gifted, possessing a long but strong body. He’s nimble on his feet but can also be very aggressive in his movements and tackling. He tends to commit fouls often, but his aggressiveness is what’s key to PSV’s midfield success. In his ability to transition with the ball after winning it, he is looking to consistently create counter-attacking opportunities. In build-up possessions, the Ivorian seeks to spread the play quickly or push forward on off the dribble.
Like a piece of meat in the Amazon River, the piranhas will begin closing in on the 23-year old when the window reopens. His all-around combination of skill and strength could make him a superstar in any top league in Europe. A good fit for him would be at Manchester United, where he could challenge Scott McTominay and Fred in the midfield and serve as a like-for-like replacement with Pogba, who’s exit is still in question.
At 23-years-old, he’s worth every penny.
Coming off a fantastic season, Teun Koopmeiners was attracting interest from Everton, Leeds United, and AC Milan in September. Now heading into the final months of the season, the Dutchman has only improved since.
Plying his trade for AZ Alkmaar, the 22-year-old has 12 goals and four assists in 23 matches. Amongst midfielders per 90 minutes, he leads the league in total passes (69.2), is 2nd amongst defensive midfielders in key passes (1.1) and long passes (5.5).
Unlike Sangaré, who’s more of a ball-winning playmaker, Koopmeiners is a mixture of a deep-lying playmaker and a box-to-box midfielder. He’s very good at retaining possession and has an excellent passing range, which is clearly the best weapon in his arsenal.
In the final third, he’s effective at picking out through passes or lifting balls in behind for the forwards to run on to. From distance, his passes are accurate and direct, allowing his team to transition faster. He also shoots with tremendous power, especially from the penalty spot where the majority of his goals have come from.
Koopmeiners is nothing short of reliable. He plays with a steady rhythm, looking to control the play with simple passes or split defences with deadly pings. He’s strong in his tackle, while also posing the threat of launching an attack with a single pass. With his size, consistency, and young age, scouts will have their eyes peeled as the season winds down.
One of the more talented midfielders in the Netherlands, Joey Veerman has been making a statement at Heerenveen.
The 22-year old is a threat to any defence because of how refined his attacking skills are. Amongst midfielders per match, he’s currently 2nd in successful dribbles (2.7), 1st for accurate long passes (6.8), and 2nd in shots outside the box (1.7).
Of the three prospects, Veerman is certainly the most attack-minded. His passing accuracy and use of layoffs in combination play have made him a focal point in build-ups. He tends to use his long passing range to switch balls out to the wingers, relieving pressure and giving them space to get in behind. When he’s on the ball, he’s reliable and extremely technical. His style is very smooth and elegant, using ball trap moves and a soft-touch for close control. He has tremendous vision and understanding of passing lanes, being well aware of his teammates’ runs off-the-ball.
Veerman has been attracting attention since the start of the campaign, reportedly being an appealing target for English Premier club Southampton back in September. In reality, Veerman’s style of play could definitely suit the Premier League. Teams such as Crystal Palace and Sheffield United have needed an attack-minded midfielder like Veerman, paving the way for him to provide that spark.
On the Radar
Mohammed Kudus is a name that might ring a bell to some fans. He’d gotten off to a flying start but was held back due to injury and fitness related issues. While notching two goals and three assists, the 20-year old could cause serious problems. If the Ghanaian international can remain fit and active, he’ll undoubtedly get significant attention.
Oussama Tannane is a 26-year-old attacking midfielder who plays his football at Vitesse. His long-range shooting ability, dribbling, and creativeness earn him an honourable mention. He does seem to be reaching the peak of his progression though, but this shouldn’t stop scouts from taking a look.
Calvin Stengs has been a prospect for a few seasons now, partnering interests with fellow teammate Koopemeiners at AZ Alkmaar. He has good creativity off the dribble and has a great through-pass. He does tend to lack concentration and discipline at times though, making him at risk for clubs who’re interested in his signature.
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