What were the most notable departures from the top division of Dutch football over the summer?
(Photo Credit: AD.nl)
The 2021 summer transfer window was one of the most remarkable in history, with twists and turns that no one saw coming, right up until the final deadline.
Yet one thing remained the same – the plucking of some of the best players from the Eredivisie.
For decades now, sides from bigger leagues full of teams with bigger budgets have been returning to drink from the rich pool of talent in the Netherland’s top league. In that time some of those who departed for pastures new were hidden gems, many future stars and of course there has been more than the odd flop.
And, whilst it is frustrating for Dutch domestic football to see so many good players leave each summer (such as the break-up of the incredible Ajax team of 2019), what it does mean is that there is always a high level of intrigue and excitement when a transfer window comes along.
Therefore, in case you were caught up in the transfer madness and not sure which way to look for the most notable deals, here are the top seven moves away from the Eredivisie from the summer transfer window.
Donyell Malen, PSV Eindhoven to Borussia Dortmund – £27 million
Ahead of Euro 2020, we highlighted Donyell Malen as one of the young stars to watch out for at the tournament, and whilst the striker didn’t add a goal to his two assists, he did more than enough to demonstrate his talent and potential.
After scoring 27 goals in all competitions last season, there was always a risk for PSV Eindhoven that Malen would receive an offer he couldn’t refuse, and those performances for the Netherlands rubber-stamped it. Aged just 22, he perfectly fits the mould of a typical Borussia Dortmund signing – talented, young and hungry to impress, with the possibility of providing huge resale value if he thrives at Signal Iduna Park.
Signed in part as a replacement for Jadon Sancho, the former Arsenal Academy player has big boots to fill, but it will be exciting to see how he develops playing alongside the likes of Marco Reus, Jude Bellingham and of course Erling Haaland. It is a big loss for PSV and a potentially huge gain for Dortmund.
Denzel Dumfries, PSV Eindhoven to Inter Milan – £11 million
They may have completed six signings over the summer but it is difficult to see how PSV can improve after losing not one but two of their key players. One of the breakthrough stars of the Euros, flying full-back Denzel Dumfries looks a ridiculous bargain at £11m.
One would expect him to fit seamlessly into Inter Milan’s counter-attacking 3-5-2 formation, the favoured shape of new coach Simone Inzaghi. There will of course be question marks over whether he can replicate his Eredivisie form in Serie A but on paper Dumfries, who remarkably didn’t even come through at a professional academy before first signing for Sparta Rotterdam at 19, has what it takes. Powerful, a good crosser, strong at the basics of defending and with natural attacking instincts, he is one to look out for if you tune in to watch Inter this season.
Teun Koopmeiners, AZ Alkmaar to Atalanta – £10.8 million
In the last two seasons with his boyhood club AZ Alkmaar, Teun Koopmeiners scored an impressive 26 goals from defensive midfield in the league.
The 23 year-old is a classic Eredivisie signing – there will be few outside of the Netherlands who will have heard of him, yet such is his quality that you imagine that such football ignorance will not last for long. In fact, it really is remarkable that more clubs weren’t in for him, considering his market value, versatility and effectiveness defensively and offensively. He was also captain of AZ at just 23, so is evidently a natural leader.
Joining fellow countrymen Marten de Roon and Hans Hateboer in an attacking and ambitious team, Atalanta’s new number 7 is well placed to excel in Italy.
Georgios Giakoumakis, VVV-Venlo to Celtic – £2.25 million
Now, technically VVV-Venlo are no longer an Eredivisie team after their relegation last season. Yet Georgios Giakoumakis makes this list as it was his explosive form that campaign that convinced Celtic to sign him after losing their own star striker Odsonne Edouard.
The Greek forward was top scorer in the Eredivisie in 2020/21, with 26 goals in 30 appearances. To put that into perspective, that was 60% of the goals scored by the side that sits next to the German border. This is some achievement considering that he was playing for a poor team battling the drop.
A forward in the more traditional mould who excels within the parameters of the penalty area and off good service, ex-Celtic man Pierre Van Hooijdonk believes Giakoumakis can score 20 goals in his debut season. What is for sure is that he will be vital for Celtic’s hopes of wrestling the SPL title back off arch-rivals Rangers.
Lassina Traoré, Ajax to Shakhtar Donetsk – £9 million
The rise and fall of Lassina Traoré at Ajax last season was bizarre.
In the first half, the talented 20-year-old centre forward, who contributed 30 goals and assists for the U21s the season before, got decent game time and displayed plenty of the potential that could have seen him develop into another fine striker for the Amsterdam club. This included scoring five times in a ridiculous 13-0 win against VVV-Venlo. Quick, versatile and a creator as well as a scorer of goals, he was playing his part in the Ajax goal machine. Yet after an injury in December put him out of action for a month, he only appeared once more in the league.
Perhaps it was due to only having a year left of his contract, or the January arrival of Sébastien Haller, or simply because he wanted a fresh challenge, but his sale to Ukraine to join Shakhtar Donetsk was still a surprise. Already he has five goals in six league appearances at time of writing there and he played a key part in helping his side through Champions League qualifying. This may be a decision that the Dutch champions live to regret.
Calvin Stengs, AZ Alkmaar to OGC Nice – £13.5 million
The pacey and skillful Dutch winger Calvin Stengs had developed into a fine player for AZ Alkmaar, scoring 12 goals and laying on 13 assists in his last two seasons in the Eredivisie. He was integral for the North Netherlands side as they finished third and just a point behind PSV Eindhoven in the last campaign.
Therefore it is undoubtedly a blow, and a little puzzling, that the 22 year-old was allowed to leave for a relatively modest fee to join Nice in Ligue 1. The Netherlands international, who has been capped 7 times and is expected to earn more as his career progresses, is essentially a very modern, hybrid forward who can play off either flank. He is raw but exciting, with a huge amount of potential. With Nice challenging for a European place this season and having some notable other young talents such as striker Kasper Dolberg, it will be interesting to see how much Stengs can kick-on.
Gyrano Kerk, FC Utrecht to Lokomotive Moscow – £5.4 million
Of the players on this list, the transfer of Gyrano Kerk to Lokomotiv Moscow is perhaps one of the least surprising considering he was linked with moves away from FC Utrecht for most of last season and the previous summer, including to Leeds United. It ends a nine year association with the club for the Dutch right winger who joined as a 16 year-old in 2012, a period in which he scored 42 times in 175 first-team appearances.
The total fee may not sound like much but for FC Utrecht, who interestingly remain the only club outside of the ‘Big 3’ of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord to have never been relegated from the Eredivisie, it is one of their biggest ever sales. In an economic sense the move makes sense. Yet as the club look to build on a third consecutive 6th place league finish, you can’t help but feel the loss of such a crucial player is a backward step.