Beware Eredivisie

Remember the maxim 'buyer beware' when shopping in the Eredivisie, according to Matt Stanger.

Last Updated: 18/06/13 at 10:44

Afonso Alves: Despite a huge fee failed to deliver for Middlesbrough after joini

Afonso Alves: Despite a huge fee failed to deliver for Middlesbrough after joini

As Premier League clubs weigh up moves for Vitesse's 31-goal striker Wilfried Bony and PSV's Ola Toivonen they would do well to remember the maxim 'buyer beware'. On goalscoring records alone there is plenty of evidence to suggest that both players could make the step up to England's top flight, but it's a prominent quirk of European football that attacking exports from the Eredivisie are enormously hit and miss.

Although Bony was crowned the Eredivisie's top scorer in 2012/13 this achievement is a poor indication that high standards can be replicated in a tougher league. The roll call of previous golden boot winners over the past decade emphasises the need for caution with Mateja Kezman, Dirk Kuyt, Afonso Alves and Mounir El Hamdaoui all leading the scoring stakes in Holland before seeing the goals dry up after big-money moves abroad.

Luuk de Jong: Great in Eredivisie; not so in Bundesliga

Bjorn Vleminckx, the 2011 top scorer, even failed to maintain his form after taking a step down to Belgian's Jupiler Pro League, while 2012 success stories Bas Dost and Luuk de Jong have seen their careers stall since joining Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach for £6m and £10.5m respectively last summer.

This is not to say that free-scoring Bony will definitely be a flop if he moves to England or that Dost, who has been linked with Sunderland, and De Jong cannot recover from poor seasons, but there is clearly a need to look beyond simple statistics when scouting players in the Netherlands. For every Ruud van Nistelrooy there is at least one Afonso Alves, with huge fees frequently wasted on players who struggle to adapt to a new challenge.

Of course, this concern is not exclusive to players from the Eredivisie, but the contrast between players' star turns in Holland and dire displays elsewhere is starker than in any other European league. It would seem that for many Eredivisie strikers, the opposite is true of the Dutch phrase 'Na regen komt zonneschijn' (after the rain, the sun will shine) as record-breaking feats in Holland remain the highlight of careers that fail to deliver on early promise.

Alves, in particular, is a memorable flop in the Premier League, making a mockery of his £12m fee during his brief spell at Middlesbrough. As the club circled the top-flight drain in 2009, Henry Winter wrote in The Telegraph: 'Brought in from Heerenveen, Alves lacks the toughness to survive in the Premier League, a division far more physical than Holland's Eredivisie. More intensive scouting of Alves might have raised doubts about his suitability to English Rollerball. Smaller of frame, Juninho had a bigger heart and therefore blossomed at Boro.'

The reference to Juninho underlines that size and strength are not a pre-requisite to succeed in England - as David Silva and Juan Mata have demonstrated in recent seasons - and Eredivisie imports have arrived in all shapes and sizes. But Alves, a huge bulk of a striker, was perhaps complacent following his stunning record for Heerenveen, while the pocket-sized Kezman could argue that he wasn't given a fair crack of the whip after becoming Jose Mourinho's first signing at Chelsea.

Although it is important to consider individual circumstances when evaluating why a player may have lost their way after leaving Holland, the striking consistency in the polarised success of Eredivisie forwards cannot be ignored. There is a remarkable balance of players falling into one of two distinct categories - success or failure - which serves as a clear warning to prospective buyers.

After landing in Europe at PSV, both Romario and Ronaldo never stopped scoring, even after climbing the ladder to Barcelona, while Van Nistelrooy and, more recently, Luis Suarez are further examples of strikers who adapted to tougher leagues with relative ease. But what about Nikos Machlas, who lasted only six months at Sevilla after leaving the goals in Amsterdam, or Mido, who retired last week after finally giving up on ever rekindling his form at Ajax?

Wilfried Bony: Has been linked with Premier League switch after fine season for Vitesse

One of the few players who resides somewhere in the middle of the polarised landscape is Dirk Kuyt, who scored more goals for Feyenoord in half the number of games he played for Liverpool, but still adapted to the Premier League effectively by becoming a tireless wing-forward. The same could be said of Dennis Bergkamp, who never repeated his goalscoring form at Ajax but became one of the greatest support-strikers the game has ever seen.

It is clear that the step up is simply too great for some strikers, either in terms of ability or the pressure that comes with a big move to a foreign league. If we look at the issue in reverse - players moving to Holland - then the goalscoring form of Graziano Pelle and Jozy Altidore last season - outliers in their careers - further emphasises the higher standard of the top divisions in England, Spain, Germany and Italy.

There is no simple answer to the questions Premier League clubs face as they consider moves for Bony and Toivonen this summer, and if they could crack the code of what determines success and failure for Eredivisie attacking exports they would be the envy of Europe. The Netherlands has long been a breeding ground of raw attacking talent, but making sure you pick the best product is not an easy business.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

e might be on a hiding to nothing, but I cannae feel any sympathy- You want to know why? Shakira. That's why.

hairpolice
Pique Taking Blame Burden Again...

A

nd this season must feel like one long sigh at the Emirates . Yep, exactly that. Except for Alexis Sanchez, he's ace.

cheshire-gooner
Is Mario Balotelli's Talent Even That 'Obvious'?

H

ey! At least put our first clean sheet in a gazillion years in the winners section. Curse you F365 *shakes fist*

fouloleron
Is Mario Balotelli's Talent Even That 'Obvious'?

Footer 365

Championship Chat: Owner hurting Leeds

James Dixon calls for Leeds owner Massimo Cellino to stop interfering in the club and also blasts the heads of Birmingham and Blackpool.

Transfer News: Hull's Tom Ince joins Nottingham Forest on loan until December 28

Nottingham Forest have signed Tom Ince on loan from Hull City on a deal until December 28.

Blackpool confirm appointment of Lee Clark as manager on rolling contract

Lee Clark has been confirmed as the new manager of Championship club Blackpool on a one-year rolling contract.

Mail Box

Wenger Kept His Pride By Turning Down Cesc

What message would it have sent if Wenger had allowed those that walked out to stroll back in? Plus, why Pochettino needs to adapt and the folly of limiting yourself...

You Can't Laud Rodgers But Lambast AVB

If Rodgers is praised despite Suarez, you can't say AVB only did well through Bale. Plus, a lot more of 2Players1Name, and why Tom Huddlestone set a trend...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property