With the Eredivisie season quickly approaching, it should come as no surprise that the biggest clubs have gotten most of their transfer business done early. A tradition of buying young players with big upside has certainly been continued for the most part, especially by the top three sides. Let’s take a look at the transfers (or lack thereof) thus far from Feyenoord, Ajax, and PSV.
The Dutch champions have not rested on their laurels during the transfer window this summer. Four players, bought for a total under €17 million, have joined the Rotterdam giants since the opening of the transfer window. Ridgeciano Haps had been linked with Ajax as well but ended up joining Feyenoord for a reported €6 million. The former AZ Alkmaar defender is a superb left-back; his defensive awareness and athletic frame, as well as his ability to contribute to attacks, makes him one of the Eredivisie’s best defenders at only 24 years of age.
Another addition to Feyenoord’s defense has been Jeremiah St. Juste. The 20-year-old centre-half joins from Heerenveen for €4.8 million: a bargain in my opinion. St. Juste showed last season that he does still have weaknesses to his game, such as occasional lapses in concentration, but he’s an athletic defender with great on-the-ball ability. St. Juste has the potential to be a stalwart in the Feyenoord defense for years to come.
Another 20-year-old, Sofyan Amrabat, joins Feyenoord for €4 million from Utrecht. The technical playmaker had an immense season in a midfield role in Utrecht, utilizing his great passing ability to contribute to his side’s direct passing style. Amrabat may not be a first choice player right away, but he’s at least sure to add some good depth to Feyenoord’s back-to-back title challenge.
Jean-Paul Boëtius rejoins his former club from Basel in Switzerland, moving back to Rotterdam for €1.5 million almost two years after his initial move (a €2m transfer). The left-winger’s career had largely stagnated after the move, having been sent on loan to Belgian side Genk for the second half of last season. It is clear that the Feyenoord hierarchy still holds the player in a high regard and believes that Boëtius can rejuvenate his career at 23-years-old back at his boyhood club.
Despite spending a good chunk of cash thus far, Feyenoord has almost regained it back in player sales. Left-back Terence Kongolo joined Monaco for €15 million while his right-sided partner Rick Karsdorp was sent to Roma for €14 million. While there is a clear long-term replacement for Kongolo in Haps on the left, Feyenoord was only able to secure Kevin Diks on loan from Fiorentina at right-back. The former Vitesse player was back on loan at the Arnhem club last season and will now get a chance to prove himself in arguably the strongest squad in Holland.
Eljero Elia is also on the way out, having joined Turkish club Basaksehir for €1.1 million. The 30-year-old was immense in Feyenoord’s title run but the club is seemingly confident in Boëtius’ ability to replace him. Backup keeper Warner Hahn is off to Heerenveen for half-a-million euros after returning from his loan at Excelsior.
With five new Dutch faces in the squad, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side looks set to mount a challenge to win the Eredivisie once again. If players can remain healthy and as effective throughout the season as they were last year, the Rotterdamers should have no issue putting up a solid European and domestic campaign.
Unfortunately for fans of the Amsterdam club, the summer of Ajax has not quite gone how many would’ve liked. Excluding the horrible situation with Abdelhak Nouri, there hasn’t been much movement in terms of signings. Peter Bosz was replaced as head coach by Marcel Keizer, the former Jong Ajax manager. This bodes well for the academy; players like Carel Eiting, Frenkie de Jong, and Deyovaiso Zeefuik will most definitely be getting some minutes for the first team, which is in some ways better than paying for players on the market.
Nevertheless, Ajax has signed a couple players thus far. Former superstar striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar joins the squad on a free transfer from Schalke in a widely-supported move. The 33-year-old may not possess the powers he once did, but will surely be a reliable backup option behind Kasper Dolberg and an important influence on a young squad. Also, goalkeeper Benjamin van Leer joins from Roda for around €700k as a backup; a solid signing to replace Diederik Boer, who left to rejoin his former club PEC Zwolle.
The most expensive Dutch export this summer has been Davy Klaassen, who joined money-splashing Everton in England for €27 million. The former Ajax captain had a superb season in front of goal but the move isn’t surprising considering how deep the club is in regards to midfield talent. Defender Kenny Tete made his move to Olympique Lyonnais for €4 million: a fee that falls short of his exceptional talent at the tender age of 21. In other news, young striker Richairo Zivkovic made a permanent departure to Belgian side KV Oostende for an undisclosed fee, and Heiko Westermann moved on a free transfer to Austria Wien.
All things considered, the lack of signings by Ajax shouldn’t be a huge concern, especially with over a month to go in the transfer window. A more important thing to remember is that the club has held on to some amazing talents, such as Davinson Sanchez, Hakim Ziyech, and Dolberg. The depth and talent is most certainly there to challenge for the Eredivisie title.
After a largely disappointing third place finish last season, PSV clearly wants to shake up a squad considered by some to be the country’s strongest. An early announcement of the €8 million purchase of Mexican winger Hirving Lozano from Pachuca set the tone for what looked to be a busy summer. Things have since settled down, with the signing of AZ’s versatile defender Derrick Luckassen for €5 million the only other purchase since. Lozano (21) and Luckassen (22) are both high-potential prospects with something to prove on the big stage.
Although fans will surely be pleased with the signing of a Mexican international, it was at the cost of letting two others leave the club. Héctor Moreno (Roma, €5.7m) and Andrés Guardado (Real Betis, €2.5m) left for what are definitively low prices for players of their stature in the team. 23-year-old left-back Jetro Willems, once heralded as a top Dutch prospect, moved to Eintracht Frankfurt for €5 million. In addition, three fringe players (Remko Pasveer [Vitesse], Rai Vloet [NAC Breda], and Menno Koch [NAC Breda]) left for a combined fee of €650k.
It’s certainly not great that PSV lost two top players in Moreno and Guardado, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few more purchases before the end of August. The Eindhoven club is not in the best position having come off a third-place finish, but some more signings will bolster an already good squad.
Who do you think has put themselves in the best position for next season? Is Feyenoord still the best team in the Netherlands, or has Ajax or PSV eclipsed the champions in terms of talent? Furthermore, do clubs like Utrecht or Vitesse have an underdog chance at pulling out an Eredivisie title next year?