Eredivisie Boosted By Dutch World Cup Success...

The Eredivisie will savour Louis van Gaal's success with the Netherlands at the World Cup, as several of its stars proved their quality on the biggest stage...

Last Updated: 14/07/14 at 08:38 Post Comment

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The World Cup often unearths talented individuals whose careers are followed in greater detail as a consequence, but in the case of the Netherlands it has put an entire league in the spotlight.

While Louis van Gaal's system was built around the long-established qualities of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder, the trio's supporting cast predominantly consisted of exciting Eredivisie prospects making the breakthrough on the biggest stage.

Van Gaal has undoubtedly enhanced his reputation on the back of a successful tournament, but with it he has also raised the profile of a league in which many of the game's leading stars began their glittering careers.

Although the number of Eredivisie players within the Dutch squad has increased by only one from the 2010 World Cup, the first XI is a different story. Two home-based players appeared in the final against Spain in South Africa, whereas five started the semi-final defeat to Argentina this time around.

That total increased to six in the third-place play-off victory over Brazil after Sneijder, who injured himself in the warm-up, was replaced by the highly-rated Jordy Clasie, reinforcing Van Gaal's commitment to home-grown talent.

It is little surprise that Van Gaal has recognised the quality available to him in the Eredivisie having cut his managerial teeth in the Ajax school, where he memorably won the Champions League, and then returned to the Netherlands to lift the domestic title with AZ Alkmaar in 2009.

Van Gaal's Ajax side were famed for their youth, with the team that beat AC Milan in 1995 boasting an average age of just 23, and it is a similar tale with the Eredivisie representatives in his Netherlands team.

The average age of the seven home-based players who have made four appearances or more at the World Cup - Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Daley Blind, Jasper Cillessen, Bruno Martins Indi, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay - is also just 23, and it is little surprise that many of that group have been linked with big-money moves to the Premier League.

Indeed, whereas the Eredivisie has long been seen as the breeding ground of the stars of tomorrow, its current luminaries have proven themselves to be more than ready to perform at the elite level. As FC Utrecht chairman Wilco van Schaik said this week: "We have now proven that the Eredivisie stands for something. Big talents are being developed here, and the Netherlands is really unique in doing that."

To reiterate the point, Christian Eriksen and Wilfried Bony - a reported £19m target for Liverpool - were among the most impressive imports into England last season, while new Southampton boss Ronald Koeman will be hoping for the same contribution from summer signings Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic.

It will be interesting to see if any of the Netherlands squad follow Van Gaal to Manchester United, with Blind heavily linked to the club as Patrice Evra closes in on a move to Juventus.

But even if Van Gaal resists the idea to remodel United around his exciting Dutch outfit, the methods he developed in the Eredivisie are bound to play a part in his plans. "By the way, I played like this with AZ and won the championship," he said when his tactics against Chile were challenged in the post-match press conference.

That victory over Chile was one of five the Netherlands gained inside 90 minutes - a total bettered by none of their rivals in Brazil, including the two finalists - while their only defeat came on penalties against Argentina. It was a World Cup that brought unexpected success for the Dutch, and one its national league will savour as it boasts the triumph of its stars.

Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

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