As the end of the season beckons across Europe, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize the accomplishments of tomorrow’s stars under our Talent Radar banner, with the U-22 Team of the Season across each individual top leagues being featured for the fourth consecutive year. This feature looks at the best of the Eredivisie.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
Andre Onana // 21 // Ajax // Goalkeeper: Ajax have had a strong season under their new coach, and Onana is just one of the many players that has prospered under the guidance of Bosz. Onana has shown time and again that his reflexes, speed, and agility make him a great addition to the side. Ajax have pushed Feyenoord all the way in the race for the title, and are in the Europa League final as well against Manchester United. Onana could have a big role to play in shaping this season as either a ‘nearly’ or an unqualified success.
Hidde Ter Avest // 19 // Twente // Right Back: Twente have been slightly inconsistent this season, and 7th place probably isn’t a fair reflection of the talent in their side. One example of the aforementioned talent is Hidde Ter Avest. Only 19 years old, but he’s made that right back spot his own. Ter Avest is a strong defender, unlike a lot of other young players in his position, making about 4 tackels a game on average. While he does possess the physical strength and stamina to dominate the right flank, he’s far more effective defensively.
Jeremiah St. Juste // 20 // Heerenveen // Centre Back: The 20 year old centre back St. Juste has really broken through and made an impact for Heerenveen this season. The youngster has performed well as a ball playing defender, and this on the ball ability has also seen him used in midfield from time to time. He’s been a consistent presence in the side for Heerenveen, though injuries and suspensions have been a bit of a hindrance. St. Juste will be looking to kick on next season.
Davinson Sanchez // 20 // Ajax // Centre Back: Like Onana in goal, Sanchez has also personified the new Ajax of Pete Bosz. Athletic, hard working, and skillful, Sanchez has grown out of the early teething troubles he faced to become one of the best young defenders in Europe. For a team that plays high up the field, and religiously plays out from the back, Sanchez is the perfect addition. It’s especially impressive that the Colombian was making his European debut this season at the tender age of 20.
Daley Sinkgraven // 21 // Ajax // Left Back: Sinkgraven is a player that seems to have been around forever, but the fact that he’s still a Talent Radar player speaks volumes. The left back has been crucial to Ajax’s success. His work ethic has been unquestionably good, and he’s been strong support going forward and back. His work has also enabled players like Younes and Ziyech ahead of him to perform with freedom, a very important contribution in their stunning attacking football. Bosz has turned the midfielder into a quality left-back.
Bart Ramselaar // 20 // PSV // Midfielder: 2016-17 has been a slightly disappointing season for PSV. They’ve fallen by the wayside in the title race, despite nearly ruining it for Ajax a couple of weeks ago. One of the bright spots in the season for them has been Ramselaar. The young midfielder, brought in from Utrecht at the start of the season, has featured heavily for the Eindhoven side this season. His pass accuracy of 86% is very impressive for a player who plays most of his football in advanced positions.
Tonny Vilhena // 22 // Feyenoord // Midfielder: Feyenoord have finally achieved a long overdue Eredivisie win under the guidance of Gio van Bronckhorst. Central to his efforts have been some experienced players like Elia and Kuyt, but young Tonny Vilhena has emerged as a serious leader in the team. Vilhena has been useful in a box to box role, making tackles and slipping passes in behind the opposition with equal ease.
Lewis Baker // 22 // Vitesse // Midfielder: Baker is a youngster who has seen tremendous success at youth level with Chelsea for a long time, and has continued to display his potential at Vitesse this season. The 22 year old all action midfielder has scored nine times as Vitesse have made it into the top six. Interesting to see whether his loan journey continues or if he has a future in London.
Kasper Dolberg // 19 // Ajax // Striker: Kasper Dolberg wasn’t the first choice striker for Ajax at the start of the season, but has taken that position and made it his own. His pace, skill, and movement have set him apart as probably the star striker in the Eredivisie. Dolberg lacks none of the spectacular technique of Ajax greats of the past, making his play easy on the eye as well. Dolberg looks like the real deal, and Ajax fans will surely hope that he is.
Enes Unal // 20 // Twente // Striker: The Manchester City loanee made an electric start to the season, scoring goals and terrorizing defences. While he did experience a bit of a slowdown mid season, Unal has shown enough talent to be taken seriously. At such a young age, he’s been able to play the tough role of a target man striker very well. Moreover, he’s shown that he isn’t just a big man, he’s got very good feet as well, big man or not.
Sebastien Haller // 22 // Utrecht // Striker: Utrecht have had a remarkable couple of seasons. Following a struggle last season, Utrecht now find themselves in the heady heights of 4th place in the league. Haller has been present and prominent throughout all of this. Thirteen goals and five assists this season. Haller is the Utrecht talisman, and can lead them to greater heights, in the coming seasons.