Norwich City lead the Premier League’s raid of the Eredivisie
In his BeNeFoot debut, Gary Howells looks at the sudden interest Premier League clubs have shown in the superb talents available in the Eredivisie.
The Premier League always goes a bit mental during the summer but this year there has been something a little different that has struck me; the dealings of the mid-table. For those of you living under a rock, the new TV deal signed by the Premier League last year will guarantee the bottom placed club around £63 million. That’s a staggering rise of £23.2 million on what QPR “earned” last year for finishing bottom. To put that into context, the Eredivisie clubs have been celebrating a new deal of their own at £69 million a year. Between them.
So with £20 odd million burning a hole in your pocket, where better than the Netherlands to spend it? Rich in talent and relatively cheap on price when compared to the English market. No club has seemed as opportunistic as Norwich this summer, who have been flexing their newly found financial muscles and attempting to attract some of the Eredivisie’s biggest talents. They sent an early warning back in March when it was confirmed that they had signed Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon for a reported fee of €10 million. At the time of writing they’ve seemingly been knocked back by Ola Toivonen, concluded a deal with Leroy Fer and failed to convince Toby Alderweireld that East Anglia was for him after agreeing an €8 million fee with Ajax.
A year ago, Norwich would never have been able to attract these players. So what has changed? Some would argue that it’s another sign of the Premier League’s dominance, a sign of the gulf in quality between the two leagues. Not in this instance, not in this writer’s opinion, at least. With all due respect, Ajax, PSV, Twente, Sporting Lisbon are surely all more attractive propositions than Norwich. Much more likely it boils down to just good business and solid scouting; knowing where to look, who to look at and what their current situations are.
Norwich has shown great ambition in identifying these players but also great nouse, as these players/clubs all have some kind of issue to take advantage of. In Van Wolfswinkel’s case, Sporting need the money. Leroy Fer seemingly had his heart set on a Premier League move after his transfer to Everton fell through in January. Both Toivonen and Alderweireld have mounting pressure from PSV & Ajax to move on with only a year left on their contracts, both looking for a fee for the years spent nurturing their talent. Having already missed out on Adam Maher due to lack of early interest in Christian Eriksen, Ajax seemingly didn’t want the same to happen with Mike van der Hoorn and have signed Alderweireld’s replacement before he has left the club.
Not to be out done, Swansea and Sunderland have got themselves in on the act too, taking the league’s top scorer, Wilfried Bony and 23 goal Jozy Altidore to the Premier League for fees reportedly worth; €12 and €10 million rising, respectively. Both look inspired buys.
In the past the Dutch clubs have been able to hold on to their best players until top sides come in. Thomas Vermaelen went to Arsenal, Jan Vertonghen to Spurs, Luis Suarez to Liverpool, just to name three recent Ajax sales. While some of these players may not go on to reach the previously mentioned level it must become a concern that mid table sides in England are getting air time with and in some instances taking top Eredivisie players. With more money to spend and plenty of the summer left, there may be more yet to go.
So long as Graziano Pelle is left alone, then it’s fine by me.