7 Eredivisie bargains who would be perfect for Premier League clubs
1. Davy Klaassen (Ajax)
The Ajax captain is only 24 but, like many talents who emerge at a young age in Dutch football, seems to have been around for ages. When Frank de Boer handed him his debut against NEC back in 2011, the Ajax away support was already chanting his name, such was his reputation. Within a minute of coming on, he had orchestrated a move with Christian Eriksen and found himself on the scoresheet.
Back in 2014, the late, great Johan Cruyff compared Klaassen to Toni Kroos and Xavi, in terms of his ability to dicatate a game's rhythm with his passing. He has shown the ability to play all three roles in a traditional three-man midfield. In 2014-15, when Frank de Boer was struggling to find a balance, it was Klaassen - very much a second striker only a few years previously - who rose to the occasion and filled in as a defensive, holding midfielder.
But it's in a box-to-box, central midfield role that Klaassen thrives. His Duracell bunny running and pressing, combined with a Lampard-like ability to time his late runs into the box mean that Klaassen has the potential to be very influential in the run of play for his team. Originally brought into the first XI to fill the Christian Eriksen void in midfield, Klaassen has developed into a different player to the Dane; more likely to get on the end of a throughball rather than provide it. Klaassen has reached double figures for goals in three of the last four seasons and notched up his first ever 20-goal season in 2016/17.
Everton were reported by De Telegraaf to be interested in Klaassen, along with Roma who would apparently look to replace Radja Nainggolan with the Ajax captain if the Belgian were to leave. In response, Ajax have set a minimum asking price of around £22m, which is a reasonable price for an all-action midfielder with good technical qualities.
2. Davy Propper (PSV)
The 2016/17 season was one to forget for PSV, who barely threatened to defend their title. One of the saving graces was Davy Propper, whose valiant performances continued even as his partners in midfield were continually rotated. Amidst the inconsistency and underperformance of his team-mates, it often fell to the former Vitesse man to make the difference and he stepped up to the plate. Propper scored or assisted PSV’s opening goal in 12 games in all competitions. This comes in spite of him often playing as the deepest, most defensive midfielder.
The 25-year-old was nearly sold to Zenit Saint Petersburg in January 2017, but ultimately the Russian club did not offer a high enough fee and talks broke down. This had no negative impact on Propper, who went on to score or assist eight goals in nine league games from mid-January to mid-March.
For the last few seasons, Davy Propper has been one of the best passing midfielders in the Eredivisie and it might be time for the Dutchman to test himself at a higher level.
3. Joel Veltman (Ajax)
Until Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal in the Europa League final, no left winger had been able to score vs Ajax in a game where Veltman started as right-back
At just 25, Joel Veltman was one of the old heads in an ultra-youthful Ajax squad last season. While he's neither particularly fast, nor a notable tackler, Veltman is a highly intelligent player; he is an adept reader of the game and proactive in his defending, unafraid to press high to snuff out a threat. Until Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal in the Europa League final, no left winger had been able to score vs Ajax in a game where Veltman started as right-back.
The Dutch international is also very skilled on the ball, regularly foraying forward into the opponent’s half with his mazy dribbles. He also possesses an expansive passing range, incredibly useful to any side built around a possession-based approach.
With the player himself signalling that he is ready for a move this summer despite talks of a contract extension at Ajax - and the fact that he is on his final year of contract - Tottenham have been looking to make Veltman their latest Ajax-nurtured defender. While he may not immediately start in Pochettino’s formidable defence, Veltman will make for a worthy back-up option with his versatility. He also offers a different alternative and competition to Kieran Trippier at right-back next season, given Kyle Walker is likely to leave.
4. Sam Larsson (Heerenveen)
Known as Samba Sam, Larsson has exquisite skills and yet is the antithesis of a Brazilian footballer. He plays with no emotion
That Heerenveen managed to survive the last January window without losing their prized possession, Swedish winger Sam Larsson, is quite the feat.
Affectionately known as Samba Sam, Larsson has exquisite skills and yet is the antithesis of a Brazilian footballer. He plays with no emotion. If Ajax's prized Dane Kasper Dolberg can appear nonchalant, Larsson looks absolutely insouciant at times. For all the joy he evokes among fans with his dribbles and nutmegs, Larsson is a reserved person. At times, this body language is interpreted on field to be of a lack of interest about the team, especially if Heerenveen are losing.
It's difficult to definitively say whether Larsson has outgrown the Eredivisie, but the freckled attacker is definitely getting there. While a move to one of the traditional top three can be very beneficial in terms of gaining experience and developing your game, the likes of Dusan Tadic and Vincent Janssen have earned themselves transfers to England without playing for Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV.
Larsson does not have a lot of recognition outside the Eredivisie yet, but if clubs are smart with their scouting, they might be able to identify the talent that the 24-year-old possesses. He could turn out to be a bargain buy this summer.