While the Eredivisie has gifted the Premier League the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Christian Eriksen and Jaap Stam, it’s dumped just as many complete and utter flops there, too.
Just about every Premier League side past and present has been stung by a young up and comer from the Dutch top flight before now. Consider it a rite of passage, if you will.
In fairness, the Eredivisie has maintained a generally positive reputation for regularly churning out top class, technically gifted talents with the tools to flourish in Europe’s top five leagues.
Sometimes, though, that fails to materialise. No matter how many goals they might score, or how many no-look passes they can play while under pressure, that ability seems to wither away completely upon arrival to England.
Manchester United are a club that have seen it all. And with Dutchman Erik ten Hag now in charge, he looks set to complete his first signing with Tyrell Malacia on the cusp of joining the club from Feyenoord, per Fabrizio Romano.
And with just how dire their full back situation is, it’s likely the inbound 22-year-old will see a lot of game time from the left-back position in the coming season. But with constant eyes on United and the Premier League, expectations of Malacia will be high.
Man Utd sign Tyrell Malacia (Football Terrace)
United will be fully convinced that their new man can grow into the role efficiently. But there is always a risk, especially with those endlessly hit or miss Eredivisie transfers. We’ve seen it all before; a young, hyped player moseying on over to England, struggling to get off the mark, and then never ever finding their levels with the pressure swallowing them up.
So, with that in mind and United linked to just about every young Eredivisie player there is at the moment, we at GIVEMESPORT have compiled a list of the biggest Premier League flops that came from the Dutch top flight. It’s a real shame some of these didn’t work out as expected.
9. Siem de Jong – Ajax to Newcastle
Signing a player from Ajax should feel like a safe bet. But for every generational talent is one generational flop. De Jong operated much closer to the latter following a £6 million transfer to Newcastle in 2014.
The young, Dutch forward arrived with a lot of hype, but couldn’t get going due to a number of injuries. First, it was a thigh problem, which was then followed by a collapsed lung as he closed in on a return. He featured just 26 times and scored twice in three years, before heading back to Holland.
8. Jurgen Locadia – PSV to Brighton
Brighton have developed a reputation for scouting out hidden gems at low prices with bags of potential, specifically since Graham Potter’s arrival. It’s a shame he wasn’t there to nip this one in the bud in 2018.
Parting with £15m in total in January 2018, Locadia arrived having bagged 62 goals and 39 assists in 176 games for PSV. He also arrived injured, and couldn’t make his debut for a month. Locadia constantly looked like a fish out of water, and was deemed surplus to requirements by Potter ahead of the 2019/20 season. He left permanently in 2022 having scored just six times for the Seagulls.
7. Jozy Altidore – AZ Alkmaar to Sunderland
You can’t really blame Paolo di Canio for pursuing Altidore in July 2013, considering he had just finished the previous season with 31 goals from 41 games in all competitions.
Despite a man of the match display in his first ever Tyne Wear derby, Altidore’s first league goal for Sunderland wouldn’t come until December. He finished the season with two from 37 games and couldn’t get a look in the following season. He left in 2015 to return to the MLS, with just one Premier League goal to his name for Sunderland.
6. Steven Bergwijn – PSV to Tottenham
When Tottenham secured the signing of Bergwijn for £26.7m in January 2020, it looked like a smart piece of business. That business looked even better when he bagged against Manchester City on his debut.
He continued his form into the strange lockdown period that plagued the end of the 2019/20 campaign having had time to recover from an injury. But when it’s come to knuckling down since, Bergwijn hasn’t been able to look like a consistent goal threat and cannot get back into the side. A return to the Eredivisie looks imminent for the 24-year-old.
5. Afonso Alves – Heerenveen to Middlesbrough
Alves bagged 34 goals from 31 games in his first Eredivisie season, becoming the third Brazilian striker behind Romario and Ronaldo to finish top scorer in the Dutch top flight. He continued to flourish there, looking quietly world class and scoring seven goals in one game in 2007.
Middlesbrough paid €12m to sign him in January 2008 and, while it took him until April to find the net, he ended the campaign strongly with a hat-trick against Manchester City. The 2008/09 campaign started brightly but fizzled out quickly as he bagged just four league goals while Boro were relegated. He played out the remainder of his career in Qatar.
4. Davy Klaassen – Ajax to Everton
In perhaps the most Everton piece of business ever, they spent £23.6m on Davy Klaassen in 2017, handing the midfielder a five-year deal in the process. Nobody quite knew how to feel about the transfer, which is never a good sign for a club who had already gained a reputation for conducting poor business.
Klaassen flopped completely in England, in an Everton side that was – and still is – a complete mess. They sold him a year later for around £12m, losing almost half the money they paid for him, one year into a five year contract. Absolute car crash. At least they learnt from it though, right? Right?
3. Mateja Kezman – PSV to Chelsea
Scoring a freakish 105 goals from 122 league games for PSV, winning two Eredivisie titles and being crowned 2002/03 Dutch Footballer of the Year, Kezman was considered a potentially generational forward by many.
It made sense, then, for now financially backed Chelsea to snap him up in 2004, with Jose Mourinho in the hot seat. He went from scoring 31 league goals from 29 games in 2003/04, to signing for Chelsea and managing just four goals in the Premier League, waiting until December for his first. He was a complete flop, and was sold a year later to Atletico Madrid, before later playing in Turkey and Hong Kong.
2. Vincent Janssen – AZ Alkmaar to Tottenham
Janssen needed just one season with AZ to announce himself as potentially the next big thing in European football, finishing the 2015/16 campaign with 27 goals and becoming the youngest player to score more than 25 goals in an Eredivisie season since Ronaldo.
Spurs were dead set that they’d found their man, and coughed up £17m to secure his services in July 2016, but immediately looked out of his depth and quickly ended up warming the bench for Harry Kane. It took him until March 2017 to find the net from open play in England, and he was loaned to Fenerbahce the following season in what was the most inevitable outcome imaginable. A calamitous flop.
1. Memphis Depay – PSV to Manchester United
The excitement that surrounded Depay’s move to United ahead of the 2015/16 season, linking up with fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal, was immeasurable. The Red Devils had secured a player who was sought after by every top club, and already looked tantalisingly good.
But, the Premier League proved an incredibly hard reality check for Depay, who struggled to settle off the pitch and was no better on it, donning United’s infamous number seven shirt. His highlights included a terrible defensive header away to Stoke which lead to a goal, off the field criticisms, and one standout game against FC Midtjylland. Considering he was meant to be the man to spearhead their future, took the number seven and cost £25m, the deal was a mess from start to finish.