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Last summer we provided a summary of some of the most notable moves away from the Eredivisie but this time, following the January transfer window and with so much still on the line in an exciting season, we look at the most significant moves to sides within the Netherland’s top division.
Wilfried Bony, No club to NEC Nijmegen
It doesn’t seem that long ago since Wilfried Bony was one of the Premier League’s leading goal scorers, earning a big transfer to Manchester City after a prolific season and a half with Swansea City. Despite winning a League Cup and the African Cup of Nations in the years that followed, it was a move that marked a steady descent in the fortunes of the Ivory Coast forward. Now, after a period of obscurity playing in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, he has re-emerged in the Eredivisie by signing as a free agent with NEC Nijmegen.
On paper, it is a smart move from NEC, who have impressed since promotion last season and sit comfortably in mid-table. Indeed, Bony certainly knows what it takes to be successful in the Netherlands – he was the Eredivisie Player of the Year in 2013 after scoring a phenomenal 31 goals in 30 games for Vitesse Arnhem. His experience and natural ability should be impactful, with it being reported that he has already left a strong impression on the NEC squad in training, despite injury having prevented him from making an appearance yet.
However, it’s hard to really predict which Bony NEC has acquired – the prolific, bulldozing centre forward or the insipid, hesitant attacker who is most often found on the periphery of games – and you can’t help but wonder if he will get even a little bit close to the levels of performance he produced in Arnhem. It would be brilliant for the Eredivisie if he could.
Joey Veerman, Heerenveen to PSV Eindhoven
Last year, we wrote a profile piece on Dutch midfielder Joey Veerman, predicting that he was destined for great things and sharing our belief that he is one of the young Eredivisie players to watch out for in the near future. Indeed one Rafael van der Vaart has even stated that “I really think he is the best player in the Eredivisie. Football players such as Veerman are of a dying breed.”
Therefore it’s not surprising that title chasing PSV Eindhoven moved for a player who only recently turned 23 and had already racked up 71 Eredivisie appearances, 14 goals and 21 assists for mid-table Heerenveen. What is surprising is the remarkably modest fee they had to pay for someone of such talent and potential who was an integral player for his former club. Already Veerman, at time of writing, has 4 assists and 2 goals in League and Cup, including a strike against his old club.
It is believed that PSV pipped Feyenoord to his signature, moving swiftly to replace former Dutch international Davy Pröpper, who announced his early retirement from the game in January. On paper, Veerman is a defensive midfielder, yet it is clear he is a box-to-box player capable of both shielding the defence and making penetrative late runs into the opposition box. In a tantalisingly tight title race with Ajax, could the signing of Veerman prove the difference?
Brian Bobbey & Mohamed Ihattaren, RB Leipzig & Juventus to Ajax
The well-oiled Ajax business model of developing, whether through their academy or intelligent signings, young talent before eventually selling it on for a healthy profit is well known. Yet the recent decision to dispense with Brazilian international David Neres to Shakhtar Donetsk, considering his importance to the team and the fact they are in the middle of a title battle, raised a few eyebrows.
Those eyebrows were disappearing within the hairline when academy product Brian Bobbey, who only left the club last summer to Red Bull Leipzig, was re-signed on a half season loan seemingly as his replacement. The forward has had an up and down start – scoring 3 goals in his first two appearances before picking up a knee injury that has put him out of action for the foreseeable future. And he’s not the only highly rated 19 year-old Dutchman Ajax added to their squad, with versatile Juventus midfielder Mohamed Ihattaren joining Ajax on an 18-month loan deal with an option to buy. Previously signed from PSV, Ihattaren struggled on loan at Sampdoria and now finds himself back in the Netherlands with a big chance to prove his potential. There will be more than just Ajax fans watching on in interest to see what impact these two players have in the weeks and months ahead.
Jorrit Hendrix, Spartak Moscow to Feyenoord
The optimistic Feyenoord fans out there, or those looking for as exciting a title run-in as possible, will be hopeful the Rotterdam side can continue to chip away at the famous pair ahead of them. It was widely acknowledged by Manager Arne Slot and technical director Frank Arnesen that if that was going to happen, they needed to strengthen in central midfield, after several recent departures.
Enter Jorrit Hendrix, a three-time Eredivisie winner from his previous time in his homeland with PSV Eindhoven. As mentioned above, reportedly Joey Veerman was Feyenoord’s number one target, but Hendrix, who has been signed on an 18-month loan deal, is not a bad alternative. There are question marks – notably how he has recovered from a long-standing hip injury and why Spartak Moscow were willing to let him go only a year after signing him. However, the experience and versatility Hendrix adds will be invaluable, especially as he can slot straight into the side when mid-season arrivals often need a little bit of time to bear fruit. The fact he scored as an 81st minute substitute in his second appearance back said a lot. It is a hard task making an intelligent January move but this feels like one of them.
Henk Veerman, Heerenveen to Utrecht
There was more than one man named Veerman to depart Heerenveen to new domestic pastures in January. The Dutch giant Henk Veerman, a centre forward standing at over 2 metres tall, has joined FC Utrecht, in a move that could have notable implications for the final European places.
With 43 goals and 17 assists during his six and a half years across two spells with Heerenveen, it would be difficult to say Veerman is a prolific Eredivisie forward. Nevertheless, whether from the start or off the bench, he makes things happen and is certainly an effective addition to Utrecht’s attacking arsenal. This writer has seen him up close in the recent draw against Vitesse Arnhem, and some of his one touch play in difficult conditions was superb. His impact was certainly evident when he arrived from the bench for a dream debut to score the winning goal against SC Cambuur. An old-school little and large forward combination, with Greek striker Anastasios Douvikas, who has 7 goals in his first Utrecht campaign, could end up being highly effective.