Crunch time in most leagues now. It’s the business end of the football season. Some trophies are handed out already, many still have to find an owner. And yes, I do think qualifying for EL football or not being relegated counts as a trophy too.
Let’s face it, the work coaches like Stijn Vreven (Nac), Fons Groenendijk (ADO Den Haag) and Mitchell van der Gaag (Excelsior) have done at their level might well be more impressive than what Cocu has done at PSV or Pep at Man City.
In these last weeks, there will also always be fascinating rumours of players coming and going of course.
The key news for us Oranje fans is the prelim squad for Oranje’s next two friendlies.
No big surprises for me. It’s nice to see Elia back in the prelim, as he is playing very well for his Turkish side (still in the title race) while Memphis might well start centrally, like at Ol Lyon. Allowing for another left wing player to join in.
Kongolo back in the squad is logical too. He’s holding his own at Huddersfield, who are safe now in the EPL. And he can play on three spots in the NT if needed.
A bit like Daley Blind, who’s also present and might make the definitive squad as Koeman will rely on him moving forward. Purely based on his recent performances, he doesn’t belong in the NT (as he didn’t have any performances) but he’ll need some rhythm coming back and he might need a mental boost. Koeman ignoring Daley now might make things worse for the ex Ajax man, who will probably leave United this summer.
The AZ threesome Til, Weghorst and Bizot are part of the prelim squad but I doubt that they’ll make it into the final squad. Koeman also invited some Young Oranje talent to the camp, as some players are still in the fold for silverware or other big decisions. Denzel Dumphries, the assist king of Heerenveen, will join, as will AZ’s Teun Koopmeiners, Groningen’s Juninho Bacuna, Feyenoord goalie Justin Bijlow and AZ’s Thomas Ouwejan.
Potential changes for the Dutch Eredivisie coming season…
At PSV, it seems Arias might be on his way to Juve, which would be a good move for PSV’s best player of the season. Jeroen Zoet wants to leave too, while TD Marcel Brands is on the hitlist to become Everton’s technical director. The former Feyenoord player has had a massive run as TD for RKC, AZ (won the title with Van Gaal) and now eight years at PSV.
Van der Sar, Overmars and Ten Hag will stay on but heaps of rumours are going around for some of the key players. Ziyech wants to go and if he plays a good World Cup, he will land somewhere nice. Justin Kluivert has expressed his wish to stay, as his manager Raiola is making life hard for Ajax, in their quest to sign the youngster for a longer spell. He wants Justin to get 1,5 mio euros p.a. and 30% of any future transfer fee. Ajax says NO. Several Italian clubs (AS Roma, AC Milan) are in the race, as is Man United. Mathijs de Ligt can sign everywhere it seems and Man City seems to have the best papers to do so, but Barca and Bayern are after his signature as well. Frenkie de Jong is alleged to sign for Barca this summer, but will remain with Ajax for one more year. Goalie Onana is on hit lists too as is Neres, for whom a German bid of 27 mio euros is in the making. Zakaria Labyad (ex PSV) will make the move from FC Utrecht to Ajax to be reunited with Erik ten Hag. Fortuna’s central defender Per Schuurs already joined Ajax, as did left winger Bande.
Jorgensen will have the focus during this World Cup and several English clubs are scouting him. Vilhena will want to move away too (Italy?) while Karim El Ahmadi might be in the position to make a big step for the last time in his career, particularly when/if Morocco does well vs Spain and Portugal. There is interest for Sven van Beek too and Steven Berghuis has had a sensational season for a right winger, with several Spanish clubs keen to jump in.
The wonderful performances of AZ will have caught the eye, with Wout Weghorst on his way out and Jahanbaksh (in the same group at the World Cup with Iran as Morocco) will definitely be swooped up (Lazio Roma? Napoli?).
There’s a lot of debate about this on Holland at the moment. Should Kluivert really go already? Is De Ligt really ready? Can Weghorst survive outside of the Eredivisie?
We’ve seen so many “top” players from the Eredivisie struggle in bigger competitions. Alves of Heerenveen for instance, scored for fun in Holland, never made it anywhere else. Kezman, top striker at PSV, didn’t score anywhere else. More recently: Depay at Man United, Janssen at Spurs, Luuk de Jong at Borussia and Newcastle, Van Wolfswinkel at Norwich, the list goes on and on…
There are some good examples too of course. Wesley Hoedt and Virgil van Dijk never played for a top 3 Eredivisie club and they did well. And a bit longer ago: Roy Makaay and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink of course. But Kluivert might do better just hanging a bit longer, as his first season at Ajax wasn’t that sensational.
Let the games begin!
In the meantime, Louis van Gaal claims to have an offer he can’t refuse (no one knows who that might be, but Arsenal fans held their breath when he made the statement), while Dick Advocaat is on the Zenit St Petersburg short list again. Peter Bosz – who played in France himself – is most likely moving to Nice.
In other news, Arjen Robben extended his stay at Bayern, while Belgian magician Luc Nilis will move from PSV to VVV as assistant coach. Stefan de Vrij allegedly signed a 5 year deal with Inter. Hans Hateboer is on the wish list of Borussia Dortmund.