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07-31-2004, 09:59 AM
  #20
Ajacied
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Netherlands
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DUTCH LEAGUE

The Dutch league, or the "Holland Casino Ere Divisie" for the more advanced soccer fan among us, isn't exactly known as a deep and competitive league. There are only 3 teams that can cause some damage in Europe, being Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. However, don't let the lack of competitiveness fool you in terms of talent walking around. This very same league has brought the world some of the world's finest talent, featuring the names such as Cruijff, van Basten, Gullit, Romario, Ronaldo, Koeman, Rijkaard, Bergkamp, Kluivert, van Nistelrooy, Stam, van der Sar, Davids, Seedorf, Chivu, etc.. And this years group seems to have a boat load of potential as well. Here are the next kids in line, and as usual, Ajax is leading the way:

01) Rafael van der Vaart - AJAX - Creative Midfielder - Dutch - 11/02/1983)

The Dutch sensation made a rather unexpected dissapointing debute at the past European Championship, while that’s somewhat understandable considering his competition and age, most still expected him to cause a bigger impact. Said to be the Dutch next best thing and best player to come out of Holland since Marco van Basten. I fact, some even like to compare the two with eachother. Surely he is not as good nor will he ever, and despite that both played different positions, they both have their simularities. Rafael's quick decision making game and the way how he combines his playmaking and goal scoring reminds some of Marco, as well as the injury frequency that seemed to plague both. His offensive awareness often makes him a step ahead of the rest. Rafael needs to work on his consistency and needs to be even more smarter to avoid all those nasty tackles and hard fouls the opponents keep harassing him with. But, in general, Rafael is a slick playmaker, he has an immensely deep skillset. He has already scored his fair share of breathtaking goals, in particular the mule kick or how about the one he scored two days ago in a friendly where he kicked the ball up, had it balancing on his head while running through the defense before attempting a shot (LINK). These are just some example's that stand out, but it does show a glimpse of Rafeal’s creativity. Furthermore, Rafael van der Vaart is an extremely all-round player, I think his only real weaknesses are consistency, controlling his temper and just like everyone else these days, he tends to fall down relatively easy. Lead Ajax to the CL QF’s in 2001 at just 19 years of age, Rafael has the potential to be a top 10 player someday and perhaps be among the top 3 at his position. One of the world’s most hottest commodities at the moment, Rafael apparantly tends to lean towards Spain in the end. But the extremely talented and versatile midfielder has pretty much the choice of where he wants to go.

02) Arjen Robben - PSV/Chelsea - Winger - Dutch - 23/01/1984

Arjen Robben showed he's the real deal during the past European Championship. He's fast, skilled, always aware, always a dangerous threat and extremely quick in his handlings. A difficult player to control, Robben also has a great accurate shot of which he has fooled many goalies with. Arjen Robben has the upside to be among the world's premier wingers, and he will surely be tested with his new side Chelsea playing in the Premier ship next year. Owns a supurb cross thay always seems to find its target, he is also versatile, being able to attack from the left as well as the right flank. I guess when I have to be critical I could say he should improve on his heading, and maybe show a bit more defensive comittment another thing that's been holding him down somewhat were his back-to-back groin injuries he suffered the past two years, but whenever he’s been healthy, he has drawn “ooh’s” and “aah’s” and got pegged a future star. Arjen Robben is already the best winger of his national side and just one of the best Dutch players in general already. That at the age of 20 should say enough about his potential.

03) Wesley Sneijder - AJAX - Controlling/attacking midfielder - Dutch - 09/06/1984

Wesley Sneijder pretty much came out of nowhere to emerge as one the top players of his age group. Sneijder plays a quick controling game and always manages to make it going at the pace he wants it to go, which is pretty darn fast. Extremely accurate in his passes, Sneijder loves to join the attack as well as being defensively accountable. Wesley easily has the biggest shot among all the prospects I've listed, as about 65% of his goals came from a range of 16/25 meters. They are hard, suprising, accurate and nearly impossible to stop, he rarely misses the target. His only knock against him should be his size, but due to his fast style, his awareness and feisty game, it has hardly been a problem so far. Some fans like to believe Wesley is the better player between him and Rafael van der Vaart, and you can certainly make a good case for him as Wesley is coming of a better year. We’ll see what the future holds, but the Dutch future on midfield looks extremely bright with these two on the squad..

04) John Heitinga - AJAX - Two-way defender - Dutch - 15/11/1983

Johnny was one of the nation's top youngsters when he made his Ajax debute at the age of 17/18 two years ago. He then got injured and needed a year of recovery, making most fans forgetting about him. However, Heitinga came back extremely, extremely strong. He's had a wonderful season with Ajax and is once again viewed upon as an emerging star defenseman. John is the type of defender the Dutch haven't had in a long time. His offensive game is already top notch and plays a reliable game in his own end. Heitinga plays a mature game way beyond his age. A huge reason why this defense didn’t fold when Chivu left.. John is your prototype two-way defender, he's agressive, he's vocal, he's fast and he gives it all every game. Like Rafael and Sneijder, he's already a crucial part of the national team, in particular their defense. Where John is second only to team MVP Jaap Stam among best defenders. Heitinga gets a lot of attention from all over Europe and it's only a matter of time before he leaves Amsterdam.

05) Robin van Persie - Feyenoord/Arsenal - Attacking midfielder/winger - Dutch - 06/08/1983

Arguably the most talented one out of all the ones mentioned here in this post. He can become a world class player strictly based on his skillset. He has a crazy technique, he is fast, is a supurb playmaker and on top of it, has a deadly free kick.. Robin has the potential to lead this list but he just hasn't proven as much as those standing above him. This is mainly due to the fact Robin and his (former) coach, Bert van Marwijk, never got along. He never got much playing time, but whenever he did, he just oozed with potential and despite his off-the-pitch problems, was a fan favorite. Robin van Persie is very simular to Christiano Ronaldo in a lot of ways, only where Christiano tends to go back and to deke his opponent out once more, van Persie seems to be more effective. Some question his physical shape because he rarely played (injuries, in the doghouse), so leaving to an English Premier Club (Arsenal), one of many that wanted his services, in a league that relies more on conditioning and physical strenght than anywhere else, could make or break his early years there. If he indeed develops those aspects, Robin could very well find himself passing up a few spots on this list, but untill then, he's still too unproven to be mentioned between those above him.

06) Jordi Hoogstrate - PSV - Defender/Midfielder - Dutch - 02/06/1983

Jordi Hoogstrate started his career for FC Groningen and it only took him 20 games to impress the rest of the competition. PSV quickly signed him to a 5 year contract. Dutch Under 19 international captain who followed Arjen Robben from Groningen to PSV, Hoogstrate was loaned back to Groningen for the 2002/03 season but once PSV got him back in 2003/2004, he wasn’t able to cause much of an impact, mainly because his mental and physcological problems kept him distracted. Once mentioned in the same breath as Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart but his off the pitch problems have made that fade away. He’s working on those problems, he has been for the past few years. If he can ever resolve those issue’s, Jordi has a heck of an upside. He’s energetic, quick and leads by example. He then will give Wesley and Rafael a serious run for their money on the national squad. The Dutch are absolutely loaded with quality midfielders for the future.

07) Alex Rodrigo Dias da Costa - PSV - Defender - Brazilian - 17-06-1982

Simply a stud, this Brazilian defender is already an international and has been scouted by several top teams, including Italian side AC Milan to be Paulo Maldini’s eventual replacement. Considered one of the better players of his age group and one of the top foreign players playing in the Holland Casino Ere Divisie. A strong defender, he rarely loses his man and plays with an edge when the game calls for it. Great header, owns a booming shot and is pretty mobile. There aren’t many weaknesses to his game, though from what I know about him, he can lose his temper from time to time, bringing his team in danger. An underrated side of his game is his offensive production, coming of a nine goal season with Santos in his native Brazil. Alex is as close to perfect a defender of his age can be. Also very mature and brings somewhat of a quiet, controlling factor to his team.

08) Danko Lazovic - Feyenoord - Striker - Serbia and Montenegro - 17/05/1983

A striker projected to fill Mateja Kezman’s shoes in the Ere Divisie for the upcoming season. Danko had a rather dissapointing rookie year with Feyenoord. He never managed to be first choice and often had to come off the bench trying to prove himself in only a few minutes. Is said to be a more technical, more all-round version of Mateja, so there’s quite some pressure on him. He’s not very fast, but he doesn’t needs many chances. Reads the offensive aspects of the game well and has the ability to get through one’s defense by skill as well as physical strenght. Not a strong header from what I’ve seen and tends to lose his focuss at times, resulting in inconsistant play. Has a very, very bright future and an interesting upside. But since he’s quite raw and a bit of an open book, it was hard placing him on this list. Probably too high, but we’ll see..

09) Steven Pienaar - AJAX - Midfielder - South Africa - 17/03/1982

A personal favorite of mine, Steven is a product of Ajax’ education system in South Africa. He’d probably start on a lot of teams already, but that’s rather difficult and hard to do when you have Sneijder and van der Vaart ahead of you on the depthchart. Plays with heart and despite his funny way to walk and sprint, is actualy quite fast. Plays a mature game and seems to be one of the vocal leaders on the youngest squad in the world. Always active, with or without the ball, can play every midfield position as well as playing behind the strikers but also likes to tackle and defend agressively. More of a roleplayer than a scorer, Steven Pienaar will likely get more credit whenever he sees regular time on the pitch.

10) Daniel de Ridder - AJAX - Attacking Midfielder/winger - Dutch - 06/03/1984

Ajax fans are estatic to watch him play more often this year, especially after he amazed the crowd by his impressive, though rare play of last year. A skilled forward/midfielder, Daniel de Ridder can also join the attack coming from the right flanks. A fancy, but effective player, Daniel de Ridder is a future international that could move up a spot or two after having a full season under his belt. He owns a deep package of moves and owns an even better cross. A player that likes to create and take the necessary risks rather than the safe, ballposession play. Big things are expected of this kid.

11) Mika Väyrynen - Heereveen - Attacking midfielder - Finnish - 28/12/1981

Talented midfielder is a reliable and mature player in just about every facet of the game. Understands and reads situations very quick, Mika has teams chasing him ever since he turned 17. From Inter Milan to Bayern Munchen to PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord, but he eventually chosed for sub topper Heereveen, saying how Inter Milan would’ve probably loaned him to another team at some point anyway. A huge Finnish talent that has drawn comparisons from Jari Litmanen, he’s expected to be a big part trying to get Heereveen into Europe. It’s only a matter of time before he will head of to a bigger club, though Heereveen has done fairly well in keeping their tressures, at least longer than expected. One of the best foreign talents playing in the Netherlands.

12) Nigel de Jong - AJAX - Defender - Dutch - 30/11/84

Nigel, another Ajacied, is a more modest, smaller version of John Heitinga. What differs him from John is that he still seems to make the occasional rookie error, but aside from that, they are much alike in terms of playing style. He joins the rush quite often but is not as succesfull offensively just yet. He's fast, smart and his competitive attitude makes up for his lack of size. Rumoured to be in the interest of a few English teams as well as Spanish sides Barcalona where he will likely be the replacement of Reiziger. A very promesing defender, Nigel de Jong nearly made the Dutch squad to Portugal, and is considered an essential part for the Dutch future defense. Nigel seems to be yet another young Ajacied who will play his primeyears somewhere else.

13) Maarten Stekelenburg - AJAX - Goalkeeper - Dutch - 22/09/1982

The Dutch future in net. Maarten Stekelenburg is rediculously simular to Holland’s current number one goalkeeper in Edwin van der Sar. He’s around the same height, loves to play allong and is very patience. The depth among this position is very weak at the moment so that will only help Stekelenburg (or not), but he’s pretty much assured the starting spot on the national team when all the veterans retire from international soccer. Also the future in net for Ajax, but he will likely be splitting time with Lobont this year.

14) Johan Vonlanthen - PSV - Striker - Swiss - 01/02/1986

A Colombian born player, Vonlanthen is expected to play along side Vennegoor of Hesselink and help making the loss of 30+ goal scorer Mateja Kezman as minimal as possible. Every big team in Europe was after this kid, from Ajax to Madrid to Bayern Munchen to Inter Milan. But like some others, he too chosed for PSV Eindhoven. Saying how his biggest role model (Ronaldo) experienced his best years, including a breakthrough season there. An extremely skilled player, most might remember this name as the youngest ever to score at an European Championship. Constantly aware and is an entertaining playing to watch due to his combination of speed and technique. He’s very unexperienced and raw as he turned 18 only 6 months ago, but it seems like the sky is the limit for Johan.

15) Salomon Kalou - Feyenoord - Winger - Ivory Coast - 08/05/1985

The little, but more talented brother of Bonavonture Kalou, Salomon posseses a rare package of speed and skill you don’t see them much anymore. He’s as unpredictable as they come, is extremely solid once on the ball as he rarely loses it despite all his antics with it. A simular player like his brother, whom too played for Feyenoord, Salomon is said to be more dangerous and not as floatacious (I’m sure that’s not a word, but you all know what I mean by it). However, like his brother, he tends to shoot first, think later. Resulting in an occasional ego-centric play like he is a pure striker. Expected to be a full time member of Feyenoord this year, especially with van Persie gone to Arsenal. The fans already love him, they have ever since his very, very impressive debute against Ajax.

16) Collins John - Twente/Fullham - Striker - Dutch - 17/10/1985

Collins John had one of the higher goals per started game ratio’s in the Holland Casino Ere Divisie last year (9 goals in 16 games), hence it didn’t take very long before other teams started knocking on Twente’s door. Fullham appared to be the most generous and signed him to a 4 year contract as a replacement for Louis Saha. John appears to be a natural replacement for Saha, equipped with pace, strength and good ability on the ball, he was also reported to have been tracked by Manchester City and Middlesbrough. Still a teenager, so it’s essential for him to get lots of playing time and should eventually make the national team someday.

17) Thomas de Mul - AJAX - Attacking Forward - Belgium - 04/03/1986

Saw him playing for the 3rd time yesterday during the Amsterdam Tournament. And this kid is the real deal. He seems small in stature and has the looks of a 15 year old field hockey player, but don’t let that fool you. Tom de Mul is extremely quick in whatever he does, is always hungry for the ball and is blessed with tenchique. Can play pretty much every forward position due to his speed and accurate cross. Tom de Mul might see some minutes for Ajax this year, be it as a winger or as the 3rd striker behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wesley Sonck, but it’s more likely that Anastasiou will get that role. One of Belgiums brightest stars, if not the brightest, Tom de Mul might very well have star potential and there aren’t many better places for him to realise it playing for Ajax Amsterdam.

18) Leonardo Vitoria de Santiago - Feyenoord - Winger - Brazilian - 03/09/1983

One of Feyenoord’s young studs, Leanardo should be a main core member of the squad starting this year. Your typical Brazilian winger, Leonardo is a flashy winger that loves to cut inside and try to go on a solo-tour before finishing it off on his own special way. This has often lead to some describing him a bit of an ego. But expect him to be much more of a team player under new coach Ruud Gullit. Leonardo has all the talent in the world, he just has to learn how to use it constantly and all at once. Once he realises his full potential, there’s no reason not to think why he won’t make the Brazillian national team someday. Has been in the spotlights of several big spending teams ever since he made his Feyenoord debute, but he loves it in Rotterdam and is good friends with the rest of his countrymen playing in the same league.

19) Rasmus Lindgren - AJAX - Attacking midfielder - Swedish - 29/11/1984)

A young kid that got a chance to play with the big club the past month, and he definitely lived up to the hype as Ajax’ future replacement of Jari Litmanen. He posesses the exact same qualities, in fact, he’s not much different from fellow Scandinavian Mika Väyrynen (see) whom too has drawn comparisons of Jari. Rasmus is a player hard to get off the ball and always finds his way to deliver the ball wherever he wants it to. Loves to set up attacks and always manages to be the open man in order to create plays. When Rafael van der Vaart and Sneijder leave, Ajax has another diamond in the rough with Rasmus at midfield.

20) Nicolea Mitea - AJAX - Winger - Roemanian - 24/03/1985

I’ve always seen Mitea as a Marc Overmars type, though maybe slightly softer in style. But that should give most fans here a better vision of who I’m talking about. A typical Romanian soocer player, Mitea got named talent of the 2003/2004 season after impressing everyone with his rapid footwork, his blazing speed and his unexpected technique. He never stops running. Mitea did try too hard though, he was too bussy trying to impress the coach to justify more playing time rather than playing for the team. But this is perfectly understandable for a kid his age, as he just turned 19. Fans expect big things for this young stud. Said to be one of Ajax’ most sought of commodities of the 2003/2004 season and that’s saying alot considering the talent on the world's youngest squad.

Honorable mention (from best to worst):

- Arouna Koné (Roda JC - African)
- Hedwiges Maduro (AJAX - Dutch)
- Edgar Baretto (NEC - Paraguay)
- Urby Emanuelsson (AJAX - Dutch)
- Anthony Obodai (AJAX - Ghana )

Missing the boat due to age (from best to worst):

- Scherrer Cabelino Andrade Maxwell (AJAX - 27-08-1981)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AJAX - 03-10-1981)
- Thomas Buffel (Feyenoord - 19-02-1981)

Wew.. A total of 15 Ajacieden mentioned, not bad.


Last edited by Ajacied: 07-31-2004 at 12:56 PM.
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