One of my aims in beginning this blog was to bring the Eredivisie to a
wider audience by convincing my readers from outside the Netherlands that the
Dutch league is a competition worth watching. In order to achieve this, I have
decided to write a few posts entitled “Why you should watch the Eredivisie”.
This is the first of that series. For more on this, read my first post on this blog.
Let’s start with a question. What do Michel Bastos (Olympique Lyon,
Brazil), Robin van Persie (Manchester United, Netherlands) Arjen Robben (Bayern
Munich, Netherlands), Wesley Sneijder (Inter, Netherlands), Jan Vertonghen
(Tottenham, Belgium), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04, Netherlands), Luis
Suarez (Liverpool, Uruguay) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain,
Sweden) all have in common?
Other than being regarded amongst the best players in the world in their
positions in recent years if not now, they all started, or have spent part of
their careers in the Eredivisie. Only half of the eight named above are Dutch
and I could easily have named a few others given the Netherlands’ appearance in
the 2010 World Cup final. Considering that Paul Merson described the Eredivisie
as a ‘Mickey Mouse league’ at the beginning of 2011, that is a pretty good
return of world stars, both Dutch and non-Dutch.
However, the Eredivisie doesn’t only produce world class talent as there are
plenty of other players who pass through the competition on their way to
playing in leagues which attract more attention. I would like to look at the Premier
League in order to assess this further.
The Premier League has now existed for 20 years and in that time, 92 different
Dutch players have appeared in the competition. Outside of players from the UK
and Ireland, only France has provided more players to this league than the
Netherlands making the Eredivisie total all the more impressive for a league from a nation
of just 17 million inhabitants. Those players have also played in a huge number
of matches with again, only French players recording more appearances than the
However, as we saw earlier, it is not only Dutch players who have an
Eredivisie past. I looked at the players who played in the last round of
fixtures in the Premier League and found that 13 of the 20 clubs had a player
with an Eredivisie history on the pitch, generally from the start. In total 20
ex-Eredivisie players were selected, six Dutchmen and 14 from other countries.
They are summarised in the table at the end of this article which also contains
a complete overview of all 30 ex-Eredivisie players currently under contract at
Premier League clubs.
The Premier League is only one of the four major leagues in Europe and there is
a similar story in other big leagues with names such as Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Luuk
de Jong, Marcus Berg, Michael Bradley, Cristian Chivu, Nigel de Jong, Oguchi
Onyewu, Hedwiges Maduro, Michael Krohn-Dehli and Roland Lamah, amongst others, following their Eredivisie past with an adventure in the Bundesliga, Serie A or La Liga.
The Eredivisie is therefore a tremendous talent factory and gives its viewers the
chance to spot the next big names before they hit the bigger stage. Always a
nice feeling when you tip a future star to friends and that player makes that
step up to world class status or even appearances for a club from one of the