Arjen Robben, from "Loser" to Legend

I remember the little lad making his first steps on the field of FC Groningen. 16 years old. Didn’t look like a football player. More like a chess afficionado or a math expert. In a time when most if not all talents was developed by Ajax and to a lesser extend, PSV or Feyenoord, it was vv Bedum that developed this player. Or should we say that actually no one really developed him?

So much skills and feeling and intuition on that left foot.

A comment Johan Cruyff made, when Robben was still at Groningen, playing as a left winger. “Very talented, but sadly he only uses his left foot. He will never get to the top if he doesn’t learn to utilise the right foot too.”

And indeed, I vividly remember seeing him dribble past opponents to end up in a scoring position… But, what happened? He took the ball, went all the way back to the other side, past flabbergasted opponents, only to enable his left foot to take the shot.

Robben only stayed at Groningen for two years. The fast and highly skillful dribbler was bound for greatness. The headstrong player was invited to come to Amsterdam and Eindhoven many times in his youth, but his dad (and manager) kept the clubs at bay until after he finished high school. He picked PSV as Guus Hiddink was to be his manager there.

In a team with a young Mark van Bommel, Ji Sung Park, Johann Vogel and Mateja Kezman, Robben became the top scorer in the 2003 champions team. Many international clubs were on the prowl and despite a good conversation and contact between the Robbens and Man United Sir Alex Ferguson, Arjen didn’t end up at Old Trafford. ManU only offered 7 Mio euros. The PSV chairman quipped that they could just get a autographed jersey of Robben for that kind of money. When Chelsea interjected with an 18 Mio euros offer, the deal was swiftly closed.

In the summer of 2004, Robben went to Chelsea. Signed by Claudio Ranieri, but never worked with him, as Jose Mourinho made his way into the club that summer too. Robben was part of a squad with the likes of Makalele, Lampard, Terry, Drobga and Joe Cole. His first season there was amazing. He started late due to injury but ended that season as number 2 on the “Young Player of the Year” list, behind Wayne Rooney. Robben won two league titles with Chelsea and there is a tremendous video with highlights of the winger of those Chelsea days. Amazing stuff. The speed, the skill and the courage.

Robben won everything with Chelsea, bar the European title. In 2007, Real Madrid courted him. Coach Schuster actually wanted Michael Ballack, but the Real Madrid chair pushed for Robben. His exit was abrupt at Chelsea and he never got to say farewell to the fans. Real Madrid allegedly paid 35 Mio euros for the former Bedum talent.

At Madrid, his first season won him the Spanish title. He owned the left midfield spot and played 28 games as a starter. He would be instrumental in the 2008-2009 season,playing 25 games and scoring eight goals. At the start of the 2009-10 season however, Real Madrid wanted to sign C Ronaldo and Kaka and needed to free up some cash. Bayern Munich wanted to spend 25 mio euros on the winger and Madrid struck a deal. Robben was pressured to move, against his will. To this day, he claims that life was good for him in Madrid and he never wanted to leave if the club hadn’t forced him to.

Robben started on fire for Munich, wearing the number 10 jersey worn by Roy Makaay before. He would win the title in The Bundesliga too (after Dutch, English and Spanish palmares) and he won Footballer of the Year, in Germany. The first ever Dutch player to do so.

In 2010, after the World Cup, Robben returned injured. According to the Bayern medical staff. This situation resulted in quite an upset, as the Dutch federation didn’t think he was injured and Bert van Marwijk played Robben at the World Cup (where Robben was a key figure for Holland).

It took 6 months for Robben to get back to fitness.

When Oranje came and played Bayern Munich for a friendly, the home fans booed Robben while off the pitch the Bayern management started to comment on his egotistical style of play. All his injuries and these shenanigans had quite an impact on him, and he even tried to change his playing style. Losing the World Cup finals with Oranje and losing two CL finals (one against Mourinho’s Inter and one against his old club Chelsea, with Robben missing a key penalty) gave him the stigma of a loser. How many times does one player have a shot at winning the CL in his career? You’re lucky if it’s once. Robben had three nips at it and eventually got it right.

Jupp Heynckes knew that his counterpart at Dortmund knows everything about Bayern there is to know. So he had to come with a trick. And the tactical trick was: play Robben centrally.

In the first half, most of the Bayern team played too slow and without real drive, allowing Dortmund to dominate proceedings. It was clearly visible however, that Muller was moving from the wing while Robben played in the shadow striker role.

As such, he had two massive opportunities in the first half. In both cases, it was the Dortmund goalie who got the better of him.

In the second half, he was able to escape the offside trap and offered Mandzukic a chance he couldn’t miss (although we have seen them missed…).

And late in the game, at 1-1, it was Robben with his vision, speed, velvet touch and alertness who sealed the deal. He was Man of the Match. He won it for Bayern. And for himself.

Next up, the Super Cup game, against his old chums and his former coach Mourinho. “I already got warm but also taunting texts from JT (John Terry) and Lamps (Frank Lampard)… And we have the Fifa World Cup game too. Life will only get more interesting from now on. As if it will start now.”

Asked if he will stay at Munich, despite his success, Robben is flippant. “I love this club. I love playing at Bayern, we have a lot to win still… I still have a two year deal, so who knows…”

With Pep Guardiola coming in and the likes of Mario Gotze and Lewandowski making the trip from Dortmund to Munich, one wonders….

Johan Cruyff might have some influence on this topic. The Ajax and Barca icon now sees Bayern Munich as a role model club for Ajax, more so than his second love Barcelona. “Bayern has been able for decades to operate financially sustainable and they engage many ex players. That is exactly like I see it for Ajax.” Cruyff highly enjoyed the CL finals and in particular Robben.

“Some months back, when Robben was benched I already predicted that this period of rest would do him and Bayern good. And in the last months, Robben was constantly involved with all chances. He either prepares them, from corner kicks to set pieces or he gives the assist, like with Bayern’s first goal. That last goal was a superb example of his strength: intuition, technical skill and his forward thrust. He is an amazing player!”.

And so the CL party on Wembley (and Dutch grass, for that matter) became Robben’s party. One Marc van Basten had said in 2006, that Robben could turn out to be the planet’s best player ever. And when you score the winning goal in the dying minutes of a game, you are certainly top class.

The player Robben has now thrown off his trauma. His lost finales, his missed opps, the dramatic penalty kicks, the injuries, the unhappy face, the looks at the refs… Robben, the boy with leggings and gloves became a man.

He is typical a star who divides the masses, like C Ronaldo does as well. Some love him, others hate him. The play-acting, the dives, the complaints to the ref, the disappointments when he is not a starter…. Robben is beyond frustration now. He can enjoy, finally.

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  1. Nothing is better than punching your criticasters,who blamed him continously…i hope he gets a balanced team in NT to win a WC..
    @Jan Roben had cancer in his groin/testicles i heard that story at the age of 16..if so then it should have mentioned takes lot of courage to fight off cancer,also Robben should thank for wonderful medical team of Bayern Munich..

  2. My favorite player! So exciting to watch. A deserved spotlight for a dutch legend.

    p.s. Van Ginkel to Chelsea, that was quite unexpected!

      1. Van Ginkel should be more used as box to box, with Ramires in the midfield , I see him more as Lampard substitute for coming years.

        I think Chelsea and the PL suit his play.

          1. Good joke, don’t think about Chelsea, no way Van Ginkel get starting 11 role, when Mata, Lampard, Hazard, Oscar and Ramires and many more professional player there,

            r u see really see Van Ginkel Payeing or read it just in this Blog, i see him many times but he is just good for Eredisive static club, Lampard in 40 is too better than unexperience Van Ginkel. if he go to chelsea, he can be new Drenthee for us.

  3. Van Ginkel is a fool if he accepts a move to Chelsea.

    I imagine that Chelsea are probably looking at him as a DM rather than in the attacking mid three. Maybe as a Lampard replacement

    1. He is the perfect replacement in that mold Chelsea is using in Midfield. Ramires and Lampard’s profiles are not far away of that from van Ginkel.

      That having said, it’s 4 years too early and if there is truth to this story I simply think he will stay with Vitesse in a loan construction like so many (Kalas, PVA, Kakutta) and develop further in the Netherlands. De Bruyne is now actually close to a Dortmund deal, so he might never even play for Chelsea. That is simply business for Chelsea. Buying, loaning and selling as a business. AC Milan has done something similar often as well. Buying a player, give him some cup games to play and sell for 3 or 4 million more to another club the next season. If van Ginkel plays in the WC next season or even does a good job, his market value doubles and Chelsea is going to win either way. Having a new first team member that could add to the squad or they can cash in. Either way, buying low is not a bad idea.

      Van Ginkel has to over think this properly though. These construction have a Russian swagger that I don’t like. Van Ginkel needs to try to control his own future.

      1. I’d rather have lost de Jong. As it stands, it doesn’t matter if it’s Loccadia or Hoesen since Cor Pot will still start de Jong in all the games. De Jong will never be Oranje material, so why play him in these games over players who could possibly become Oranje material?

        1. Luuk might be just a young hesselink but he has the experiencec at this stage..and i hope ..that pot subs in hoesen at half time if luuk fails to score and holland are trailing

        2. I agree with de Jong not being that good… The latest is that he is trying to sign with a bigger club to try and replace Wesley Sniejder on tje BUT THEY ALL SUCK AND THE NETHERLANDS DONT EVEN COUNT AS A COUNTRY NETHERLANDS SUCK GO CHINAAAA!!!!!!!!!!


  4. @Faraz: Thanks for the link.

    Well is there still a doubt that Robben deserves the award?.

    I think being the winner of the Bundesliga and UCL with an assist and scoring the winning goal is more than enough to get the award but maybe they are still with doubts so I hope he wins the German Cup, Super Cup and Fifa WC game too so if he wins them all there won’t be a person who hesitate.

    If they give it to Messi again it’ll be a joke.

    1. They will give it to Messi again, because it already is a joke. It became a joke the second they allowed the captains of every FIFA nation to vote. Journalists at least are able to be somewhat subjective, whereas players just vote for their favourite players. Robben will NEVER be the most popular player in the world. Just look at last year. Pirlo led Juve the top of Serie A, and took Italy to the Euro finals, yet Messi still won it despite not leading Barca to anything.

  5. Very happy for Robben, well deserved for what he has gone through. He was also unbelievably lucky as Kroos got injured otherwise he might have played only a few minutes if at all in the final. In my personal opinion he is not of the same levels seen in Ronaldo, Messi, Iniesta or Xavi in the past. Sneijder couldn’t win it in 2010 as Spain won the WC. This year though with Ronaldo winning nothing, RVP doing well but not great, Messi injured etc. he may be lucky again and get the Golden Ball. Radamel Falcao may also be a strong candidate. Hearty congrats to Robben for the success he achieved this year. I have a feeling he won’t be in the starting eleven for Guardiola. Perhaps time to move on but where!!

  6. I might be a big Robben supporter but I really don’t see another big candidate for the award. Perhaps another Bayern player like Schwensteiger but I personally think Robben should win it.

    Messi is great as we all know but Robben is not too far away from Messi’s level. I mean at least Robben has played a WC final, Messi couldn’t score one single goal!!!.

  7. Bayern sporting director Sammer says Robben is staying there for sure: “He has a contract for two more years and will still be a Bayern player next season. That is a certainty.” He also finally gave Robben some credit, saying “Bayern has Arjen to thank for this title.” But I wonder if the rest of the club, and the incoming coaching management, have the same sureness. Could just be posturing to get a better price…

  8. Robben – The Flying Dutchman – is more than just a player.

    He may be the best player ever – but for now though he is simply my favorite player.

    I hope he can keep going for another couple of years because he is so important to a team – Oranje or Bayern or where ever he may play. If Kuyt is the “engine” of a team, and if Bommel is the “leader” in a dogfight and if Cruijff is the “philosopher tactician” – Robben is the “muse”… Robben makes everything better, he makes things happen, he unbalances opponents and the level of creativity of the side that he plays for goes up – always.

    I will enjoy every game he plays because – as its been said before, there may never be another one like him.

    It was so totally awesome to see him win this for Bayern – and after all that they said and did to him…

    Now there is only one thing left to achieve – if any player deserves to score “that winning goal…” it is Robben – he’s earned it.


    1. Hear, hear. It’s astounding how far he’s come with only one foot. 😉

      I love to watch Robben every match, because every match he’s in somehow manages to be about Robben. When he has the ball, something has to happen, and everyone knows it. That, I think, is why it’s so easy to complain about his ego: If Robben thinks at any given moment that the game is about Robben, he’s both selfish… and right.

  9. Something about match Bayern-Borussia 2-1.And why Robben was king .I think that Bayern was in the same situation like Holland 1974 after match with Brasil 2-0 ,(heads in the air), and Danemark 1986 in Mexico, and Holland after beat SRJugoslavia 6-1 in Holland 2000 (something unbeliveable against Italy,5 or 6 missed penalties…)and Holland 2008 after Italy and France and Romania…. of course every match with different rhythm. For Bayern same situation is it that their heads were more in the air too, instead on the ground .Isn,t easy beat Barcelona 7-0 and landing on the ground.Borussia was deep on the ground.In the first 20-30 minutes they take the space and maked chances and very easy they could lead 2-0.It would be enough to win.(and Jurgen Klopp was very positive,brave and good coach.) Then Bayern started”landing on the ground” and became more dangerous until the end,with many missed chances.If you are “on the wrong leg” it,s a very hard to win.Dante and Ribery could get red cards.Though Ribery don,t played bad-little nervous.(in penal series I had got some feeling that Dante,Mandžukić and maybe Ribery not scored goals)….And then Robben.Robben were above others in this Bayern situation,with his speed,good see in the space(super geometry) and one on one.Without Arjen Robben on the football field,I can say,Borussia would win.Course, this time Robben would scored penalty(England country loves him). After all these things and goal he deserves to be the best.Against Barcelona on Camp Nou he return something for Dutch football..It is some my opinion about this match.Landing on the ground is very important always.Second thing what said AD.It is the fact that seriously Dutch football was always revolutionary and it is deeply interesting.Many people don,t understand this fact.When NT or Ajax won, it,s always something like little revolution.Holland trophy 1988 there are more weight in compared with Danemark 1992,Greece 2004,Spain 2008 etc..If Holland some day win in World Cup that only trophy would be like same 5 Brasilian trophy(for many this is funny but what can I do)….When Holland teams won in first wave 1969-1973..Feyenoord,Ajax,Ajax,Ajax.. it was much important instead Bayern,Bayern,Bayern after that.In second wave,late 1980s-1996,97 I think Ajax could win 3-4 times with better politic.Because,for me Ajax is the most genius all the times.Then came John Bosman rule.One.And two .Ajax and Holland started to gave their power to Barcelona (and Spain).Two in one wasn,t good for Dutch teams (except once Feyenoord 2002).Time and things became too much speed.Business too.Export-import,export-import ..and it is became bad for football phylosophy and little revolutions(earlier the stronger Holland weapon) and good for economic giants. Other teams and countries better knew to use this situation and many talents from East,West,Balcan,Scandinavian,Africa..Holland ,must go in the richest clubs and it become very hard for young talents to know where to go.Or to stay.For Holland talents maybe and worse because if lose their native phylosophy they are in a bigger “football” dangerous then others.And more perplex and weaker results .Because now is good that Ajax and Feyenoord and PSV…become much stronger.Ajax just do it.Play very good with Man C,not bad with Borussia and Real except results.And not so good with Steaua.Always old problems with east european teams.They are good chess meisters .One shoot in goal and goal. Spartak (M)…etc.

    1. Good analysis ARS.

      I enjoyed reading your post, but I must ask if it would be possible for you to use some paragraphs in the future. It would make your posts MUCH easier to read, and your excellent assessments will reach a wider audience.

      Every time you start on a new point/theme/topic/subject, hit Return twice – leave a nice little one line gap between your thoughts.
      This one simple adjustment will completely re-invigorate your writing.

      I like your theories and stories, but when they appear as a block of text you are in danger of being grouped into the Tiju camp – No-one reads his amateur crap. It’s painfully embarrassing. Set yourself apart, my friend.

  10. Pierre van Hooijdonk is imploring Robben to leave. “With Ribery staying, Gotze coming to the Arena and potentially Wedanovski too, it will be crowded. Robben is at his peak. He has delivered the ultimate for the fans, he should leave at his peak. Any top team in the world will want him.”

    1. I’ve never understood that common statement.
      He should leave at his peak?
      No he shouldn’t. It’s a meaningless soundbite, trotted out by empty minds to fill the void of their deafening ignorance.

      1. One reason to leave now is that he has more leverage in negotiations. Robben’s sexiness may have a shelf-life, though, because there’s always the risk of injury, etc.

        That’s why it’s smart to strike while the iron is hot, while his name is on everyone’s lips for the right reason.

        It makes sense for him to make the most of the moment, and that may include moving when he can pick and choose — instead of going to Galatasaray.

        1. This makes sense to me. ‘Leave at your peak’ by itself seems like a meaningless talking point, but in light of Sneijder’s recent issues, it does seem to make sense for Robben. Bayern clearly have undervalued him in the last year (in terms of his role in the squad, not financially speaking), but he has clearly proven them to be incorrect. Any team with Champions League aspirations, I would think, would be watching not just the final match but the way he was able to slice Barca wide open time after time and realize his value.

          Also, it sure would be nice to hear a sound bite of Robben telling Beckenbauer to Suck It.

          1. ‘Also, it sure would be nice to hear a sound bite of Robben telling Beckenbauer to Suck It.’

            Now, that i would like to see.
            Certainly more than i wish to see him disrespect our National manager again.

    1. His sense in the box shows in this video, doesn’t it? He seems to have that constant awareness of the angles that’s key for a striker.

      It’s part of that same great positional sense that makes him so promising in the midfield.

  11. When roben worksd hard and paly hard he is much better than Messi and CR7…i mean much more dangerous than them..If defense is tight then messi wont have a nice game..but CR7 and roben plays better against tight defense….

  12. When roben works hard and play hard he is much better than Messi and CR7…i mean much more dangerous than them..If defense is tight then messi wont have a nice game..but CR7 and roben plays better against tight defense….

  13. Doel: Nikolai Zabolotnyi (FK Rostov), Stanislav Kritsyuk (Sporting Braga, Por), Aleksandr Filtsov (FK Krasnodar).

    Verdediging: Maksim Belyaev (FK Rostov), Taras Burlak (beiden Lokomotiv Moskou), Ivan Knyazev (Torpedo Moskou), Ibragim Tsallagov (Krylya Sovetov Samara), Nikita Chicherin (Dinamo Moskou) en Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moskou).

    Middenveld: Shota Bibilov (Volga Nizhny Novgorod), Sergei Bryzgalov (Spartak Moskou), Maksim Grigoriev (Lokomotiv Moskou), Roman Emelyanov (Illichivets Mariupol, Oek), Aleksandr Zotov (Tom Tomsk), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moskou), Yuri Kirillov (Dinamo Moskou), Sergei Petrov (FK Krasnodar), Denis Cheryshev (Real Madrid, Spa) en Oleg Shatov (FC Anzhi).

    Aanval: Maksim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Aleksandr Kokorin (Dinamo Moskou), Fedor Smolov (FC Anzhi), Pavel Yakovlev (Spartak Moskou).

    Russian selection. I only know Schennikov from the defenders, but from the midfield and attack few names are quite interesting : Grigoriev, Shatov, Smolov, and of course Dzagoev and Kokorin.

  14. @Jan excellent post about Seedorf. Ty

    When Seedorf was comparing Van Basten with Koeman he said that Van Basten was “too Dutch” and should have be more realistic.

    What did he mean? That Netherlands should not dream to win a WC?

    1. LOL

      “Too Dutch”

      …I know exactly what Seedorf means.

      — it is actually so funny (to me) that I don’t even want to get into it.


  15. Robben should leave Bayern after all the nasty criticism he has received from the fans, teammates and directors. Although this year I’ve seen his teammates showing more respect towards Robben and they seem to like him now (even Ribery and Müller).

    Guardiola loves Cruyff and really listens to what Cruyff speaks and as we all know Cruyff really likes Robben so that might be a good thing.

    If Robben stays I hope they pay tribute to what he’s done for the club and use him as the star of the team.

    People constantly hail Ribery as the star but without Robben I doubt they had won the UCL and also doubt they could’ve reached 3 UCL finals.

  16. Nice article Jan.

    Amazing that someone with this much success in his career could ever be branded as a loser by the press, let alone his own club.

    I always turn off the sound when watching this kind of stuff, so I’m not vouching for the soundtrack, but this is a pretty good compilation of his work versus Barca this year:
    His speed is still amazing, as is the quality of the service, particularly from the corner flag- always jus past the comfortable range of the keeper.

  17. It appears that Ajax wants to sing Van der Hoorn as Alderwilde replacement.

    There are a plenty young right back players on the market: Gouweleeuw (signed for AZ already), Van Dijk, and Bruma.

    Who is better?

    Ajax counts with Veltman. I really was wondering that Ajax sings Gouweleeuw but that’s don´t will happened for now. How about Van der Hoorn? Is better than Bruma or Van Dijk? Why Ajax didn´t show interest to sing Gouweleeuw?

    1. Yes, footage like this of VDH’s own goal make you wonder:

      Sorry, so funny I had to post it.

      But all we hear from all corners is that Van der Hoorn is awesome. I haven’t seen much if any of Utrecht.

      What do others report about Van der Hoorn?

      I’d like to believe that Cruijff’s Ajax is consolidating the best young Dutch talent, for the sake of Dutch football.

    1. The training internship is coming to an end today. The following names were called up:

      * Anass Achahbar (Feyenoord),
      * Nathan Aké (Chelsea),
      * Yassine Ayoub (FC Utrecht),
      * Sven van Beek (Feyenoord),
      * Nick de Bondt (Ajax),
      * Joshua Brenet (PSV),
      * Michael Chacon (RJO Heerenveen/Emmen),
      * Brahim Darri (Vitesse/AGOVV),
      * Daan Disveld (N.E.C.),
      * Huseyin Dogan (Sparta Rotterdam),
      * Kyle Ebecilio (Arsenal),
      * Arjen Hagenauw (RVO FC Groningen/Cambuur),
      * Nils den Hartog (RJO Willem II/RKC),
      * Thom Haye (AZ),
      * Jorrit Hendrix (PSV),
      * Boy de Jong (Feyenoord),
      * Menno Koch (PSV),
      * Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord),
      * Mimoun Mahi (Sparta Rotterdam),
      * Elvio van Overbeek (PSV),
      * Joris van Overeem (AZ),
      * Karim Rekik (Blackburn Rovers),
      * Roy Talsma (Vitesse/AGOVV)
      * Lucas Woudenberg (Feyenoord).

      After the internship the coach will make known the 18 players that will go to the Elite round in Oslo that enables U19 to qualify for the coming Euro.

      1. Love this, DRB. Just tried to find your scouting reports on this group, but couldn’t google or stumble my way there.

        Would you please repost your notes on this group? Thanks!

        1. Maybe it’s best to wait for the final selection. Here some updates about the state of the guys we tend to to know:

          I am interested in Ayoub from FC Utrecht. Hope he makes the final selection and we are able to see some of his football. He is a 6/8 kind of footballer, rather controlling midfield.

          Ake has been chosen talent of the year at Chelsea (again?). Got some game time in recent months. Also controlling midfielder with the CB position as second option. Excited about this talent.

          Rekik has flopped during his loan. What now? International games could give him a boost in confidence. He is probably still figuring out how he was better when he came from Feyenoord and went on a loan to Pompey than in this spell being a year older, but after spending all the time between the spells on a bench. We can point all we want and say the problem is staring right in his face, but for these kids it’s like rocket science.

          Hendrix is a left CB who is a bit too short, but great on ball. Passionate and possessing a great mentality. With him, van Ginkel, Strootman and Janmaat we have 4 players possessing great players in the mental department, though Hendrix has everything to prove yet. I group these players together as I think that for winning tournaments you can’t have enough of these kind of players. One just hopes that they also develop into quality players (having a bit of magic). Janmaat lacks that most, then Strootman and after that van Ginkel IMO. Not sure where Hendrix ranks on this scale, but it’s too bad he is so small. Same goes for Denswil somewhat. Keeps amazing me that the country with the average longest people can produce a line of players being so small. Koch on that list is very tall but is no quality defender so far.

          Tom Haye was starting training with the first team at the start of the season, but went back to the youth. Maybe this season he will get into the AZ first team and maybe even get some playing time here and there. Another controller in midfield.

          Kongolo the big defensive talent from Feyenoord. Can play both left and right CB. Hope to see him again in action as at Feyenoord he was injured for a long time and also has to compete with BMI/Mathijsen/de Vrij.

          Kyle Evecilio is back from Arsenal and is going to play for FC Twente. The fact that he is leaving Arsenal and Arsenal being semi oke with that is also something to pay attention to. Would Arsenal ever let go a talent with world class potential? I don’t expect a second Castaignos, who came back from Inter and failed considering his price tag, but we should maybe lower our expectations for Ebeclio a bit in the first year(s).

          Achahbar will probably be loaned out this next season. Could go to a newly promoted club or a Heracles who like technical player and had to let go many of them recently. Next season is important for Achahbar and he must make the right decision. Football is not only about what you can do with a ball.


    1. Depends on if you like to see a lot of first team players being Dutch very soon. Ajax are buying some new international talent to fill up the gaps at the age group right under the first team. At the younger age groups they have enough talent again (though there we see also some foreigners being attracted).

      Also consider that a Bazoer was not allowed to play competition as a result of the transfer from PSV to Ajax. Kishna is injured all the time and a big talent. Tete is a talented right back. FC Groningen had a lot of players in U21 at one point not so long ago, but none became world class or lifted their club to a Championship in the Eredivisie. It’s also about quality and at Ajax there are some gems on their way with a pretty high ceiling.


      1. He came from the same talent pool as Strootman and Willems at Sparta. Dries Mertens said that Duarte probably was the most talented of the bunch and predicted a bright future in Oranje for the lad.

    1. He is more of an offensive midfielder with ability to penetrate the opponents lines having a decent dribble. His overall game is a bit lightweight (not yet a man for all seasons), but the specific rainbow pass that we know from Song giving to RvP at Arsenal and Carrick/Giggs/Rooney giving RvP more recently at United is a facet of the game he controls as few others. In the U21 game I saw recently he gave 3 or 4 of those to Luuk de Jong with a precision and in a weighted manner that was of the highest international quality. You give those to a RvP and 2 of the 4 end up as a memorable moment. I would love to see more magic in the NT. 🙂

  18. The whole world is worshiping the German team and I myself think they’ve a great team but we also have a great team just take a look at our midfield!

    Van Ginkel
    De Guzman

    1. @miguel the difference is players like bender,Gundogan,shweani,khedira,kroos has hell of work rate with skills that cannt be said about some players of the dutch.Nigel is injured for a long time and he is 29…vaart 29,wesly29 we dont get that work rate from these players…that will make the difference,not class,Class is there always…but i feel when we play Clasi.ginkel.maher,stroot ,urby we are on par with them.

      1. Tiju,my friend,i think football is not only about “workratge”, “hardworkers”,etc. you are always talking about this as the most important factor of success. i prefer a ronaldinho or a clarence seedorf with -50 (or maybe -500?)workrate to working class geniuses like schweini and co.

        1. @Ferenc buddy…got ur point,i interms of class there is huge difference between shweani and Ronaldino…while seadorf won everything with good skiiled team mates,His trophies were more of team work…i will also prefer Ronaldo over kuyt kind of hardworkers upfront..coz to finish the game off.there is not much class difference between Shweani/lahm etc with Vaart and wesly…so it is natural that,the team which works more will win.if they have some efficient excuters up the moment there is not differnce in terms of class between dutch and the germans…i mean vaart/wesly/Dejong Vs lahm/sheawni/ozil/khedira…its all depnds on how they work hard for the team…in that way these germans does well…
          May be Barca VS Bayern will tell you the difference between hardwork.its true that bayern had clinical finishers up front in Muller and Roben..But difference was made by works rate produced by whole team of bayern with good strategy.I am not ignoring the tactical part of bayern but the workrate produced by talented stars were awesome.I saw 11 skillfull kuyts in bayern team..

      2. Tiju,my friend,i think football is not only about “workrate”, “hardworkers”,etc. you are always talking about this as the most important factor of success. i prefer a ronaldinho or a clarence seedorf with -50 (or maybe -500?)workrate to working class geniuses like schweini and co.

    1. Not sure Jan is happy with this as many Feyenoord fans are religious concerning de Kuip (and rightly so), but from a business perspective it’s the way forward. You can’t eat from nostalgia. If Feyenoord wants to become champs, keep it’s talents a little longer and maybe do something special in Europe again (remember 2002) then you need more money. TV money is what it is (Eredivisie is no EPL and will never be), you can’t build on transfers risk wise, but what you can do is building on local support, especially a club like Feyenoord. Owning the stadium and use it for all activity’s imaginable to make money from is the thing Dutch clubs can do to make a big leap.

      At this moment FC Twente is taking players from Feyenoord. Ask Feyenoord fans if they liked Wijnaldum moving “up” to PSV or especially Fer moving “up” to FC Twente. From a Feyenoord perspective that should never be considered “up” by a player, but then there has to be taken action to turn the page and rise again as a financial healthy organisation. This is a very good step in that regard. More business seats!

      1. TY DRB300

        May you make some comment about this post please?

        It appears that Ajax wants to sing Van der Hoorn as Alderwilde replacement.

        There are a plenty young right back players on the market: Gouweleeuw (signed for AZ already), Van Dijk, and Bruma.

        Who is better?

        Ajax counts with Veltman. I really was wondering that Ajax sings Gouweleeuw but that’s don´t will happened for now. How about Van der Hoorn? Is better than Bruma or Van Dijk? Why Ajax didn´t show interest to sing Gouweleeuw?

        1. Hi Eduardo,

          The who is better question is tricky to answer. The point about all the players you mention is that they either make that national step to the top or in Bruma’s case finally want to become a first 11 player at a Dutch top club. It’s not that any of them made it at a Dutch top club and now make the step abroad.

          Gouweleeuw will probably go to AZ. So no Ajax for him. The fact that he chooses for national sub top instead of national top is a sign. Gouweleeuw is a sweet footballer concerning the long ball delivery and forward urges, but defensively not solid and even in build up he makes his mistakes.

          Van Dijk is a good interceptor and big but he still makes a lot of mistakes. He is pretty good on the ball though. His mistakes come from lack of concentration and just general sloppiness (quality?).

          Van der Hoorn is good in the defensive aspect of the game but football wise and game reading wise not sold on him. Has a lot of improving to do in that regard. Also it is important to consider that Utrecht played quite compact at times and that is also helpful for defenders. Utrecht is for a reason the biggest overachiever this season. Top organisation and often other clubs then think that the players must be pretty damn good, they are bought and then they disappoint all of the sudden. I don’t say this goes for van der Hoorn, but I wanted to point this out as a possibility.

          Very simply put, the player that made the van Gaal preliminary selection was van der Hoorn. I think I am going to agree that he is a tad further than the other two or in any case in the best form. Theoretically van Dijk is in the middle of the two and combines the best of the two. Able to defend and able to play football, plus big and strong. Gouweleeuw excels in the football department, Hoorn excels more defensive speaking.

          So van Dijk has the package but it doesn’t quite come through consistently, Hoorn made steps and is the in form guy, Gouweleeuw is the footballing “defender” that takes an in between step before going to the top if he ever gets there.

          Now Bruma was a player at HSV that went through high level and low level moments within a match itself even. Very much fluctuating. Bruma does not really have weak spots but as van Dijk, his lack of concentration is obstructing him so far. The difference between the two is that van Dijk can’t say he lacks playing time that causes it, while with Bruma we don’t know if it is a trait or something he will get over when playing his 1 or 2 games per week.

          If I were a Dutch top club now, I think I would go for Bruma, then van der Hoorn, then van Dijk, then Gouweleeuw.

          Now concerning Ajax and van der Hoorn. I don’t think he is footballing wise better than Veltman. He should make big step to play the Ajax game. He is stronger but also younger than Veltman, mind you. Ajax wants to give the youth more chance and in defense they are not exactly that weak. The problem IMO is what happens when Boilesen comes back and stays fit? That is one hell of a player. Blind however is now getting into the NT and has developed in a great way. However putting one of the two on the bench is a bit of a crime if they are fit and able to reach their level. Boilesen could then play left center back. In any case, those are 2 players that should play. Then the big talent Denswil. He needs to be developed. This is a guy repped as the next big thing in defense. If your thing is youth development then this next season is a time to push him forward IMO. Then Moisander who also needs to play or even could become captain if de Jong and Alderweireld are sold. Mind you that Moisander has played right center back for years. He can easily play both positions. Then Veltman who has the age to step in on right center back. Then there is van Rhijn who could also play right center back as that was his original and is probably his best spot. The right back position is maybe a bit bleak then, but Tete is coming and they still have Ligeon.

          My point is that de Boer can solve all those defensive positions with what there already is. Shuffle some things and it is solved. My main point is that the buy of van der Hoorn is not so much at the cost of Veltman (which would be also the case) but more go at the cost of Denswil actually, as I want Moisander to move to the right center back position and give Denswil all the space and time to develop at left center back.

          So, no I am not happy with this rumor. It could also be a strategic smoke bomb to mess around with PSV (make them pay more than they would do) or a way to bring down (all) the transfer prices in Eredivisie. Maybe they don’t want him, but someone else. Remember last season Ajax also went in for many but backed off all the time after hearing the demanded price. The effect is that clubs will start to lower their demands eventually. That defender kid from Barca B is probably fit again. They could have him in mind already, pull this off first and then in the future get someone from Utrecht they really want for a lower price. So maybe this is preparation work for future real interest.

          Just some thoughts to consider. Cheers

    2. I’m in a spread over this… one side of me knows it is the only way forward as De Kuip is not fit for modern football. The toilets, the facilities, it’s horrible. And the stadium might be unsafe even by now. But the pitch is superb. And the atmosphere too. Probably one of the coolest stadiums – objectively – on the planet. But hey, if we want Oranje in Rotterdam, we need to get a new home….

    1. Wow!

      This is AMAZING. Thank You

      Who makes the ball control at 35-40 seconds? I watched three times and the feet are still too fast for my eyes. Incredible talent

    1. YOu are right. I should have said “loser”. I obviously don’t believe he is. I am a big fan of Robben. But the world and his Bayern fans and actually he himself thought at times: shit, I can’t close big games….. Hence my title.

      I also am a stickler for alliteration. But I will change it.

  19. a very nice article; finally, a kind of article which seems to understand robben from the interrior in a way; he’s my favourite player; sometimes i had the feeling he is misjudged, including regarding him as selfish on the pitch, it’s not quite true

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