Eredivisie Preview: How all 18 clubs are shaping up
European football is back. The FIFA World Cup eased the downtime. For Netherlands’ football enthusiasts, however, Russia offered little help with l'Oranje at home. The game died when Eredivisie climaxed in May.
Dutch football's 63rd edition kicks off this weekend. Although Holland’s first division has fallen down the ranks in recent years, it still offers the same excitement for emerging prospects. The natives, too. Especially those from the acclaimed ‘Big Three’ of Dutch football; Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotherham.
Record champions Ajax intend to end PSV’s recent foothold on the title. The Farmers have harvested three of the previous four editions, including last season. Despite being the Sons of the Gods, Ajax has been merely mortal. Feyenoord's barren patch continues with just one title since the millennium turned.
Further down the table, several teams are prepared to slug it out for the Europa League play-offs. The battle between Utrecht, Vitesse, AZ, Heerenveen and Groningen will be exciting.
Emmen, De Graafschap and Fortuna Sittard are the promoted newbies, which is not a Dutch word although it should be. The trio all plan to upset the status quo and finish the season still in the division.
Here's a summary of all 18 clubs' status heading into Match Day One.
Manager: Erik ten Hag
Last season: 2nd
|Daley Blind LB||Man Utd||€16M||Justin Kluivert LW||Roma||€17.25M|
|Dusan Tadic AM||Southampton||€11.4M||Deyovaisio Zeefuik RW||Groningen||€300K|
|Hassane Bande||Mechelen||€8.25M||4 players||FT|
|Zakyara Labyad||Utrecht||€6M||Mateo Cassierra CF||Groningen||L|
|Peter Schurs CB||FSittard||end/L|
Remaining needs: Unlike previous summers, Ajax was quite smart in their transfer dealing. They managed to hold onto their spine while replacing departures with experience. However, Joel Veltman's injury coupled with Deyovaisio Zeefuik's exit leave them short on the right side of defence.
Season outlook: Ten Hag's experiment paid off. After a difficult start, he was brought in December to replace Marcel Keizer. On paper, the 48-year-old boasts the league's strongest squad as well as an optimal blend of youth and experience.
Manager: John van den Brom
Last season: 3rd
|Bjorn Johnsen CF||Den Haag||€2.3M||Alireza Jahanbakhsh RW||Brighton||€19M|
|Marko Vejinovic DM||Feyenoord||€1.25M||Wout Weghorst CF||Wolfsburg||€10.5M|
|Henri Weigelt CB||ABielefeld||€1.2M||Joris van Overeem CM||Utrecht||€700K|
|Rody de Boer GK||Telstar||€250K||3 players||FT|
|Leon Bergsma CB||Ajax U21||FT||Ricardo van Rihn RB||Brugge||?|
|Dorin Rotariu RW||Brugge||L||Niki Olij GK||Oss||L|
|Mees Hoedemakers CM||AZ U21|
Remaining needs: Judging by gains, this summer has been bliss for AZ. The Cheeseheads recouped nearly £30 million by selling two players: Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Wout Weghorst. The bad news is the pair were their best players, producing a combined 39 goals and 18 assists. New signing Johnsen must fill two large pairs of boots.
Season outlook: Van den Brom takes charge of AZ for the fifth consecutive season. They may struggle to challenge the big three; returning to Europe will tax the squad. Should that man Fred Friday find his finishing boots, Alkmaar could spring some surprises.
Manager: Henk de Jong
Last season: 4th Eerste Divisie, Promoted via playoffs
|Leeroy Owusu LB||Ajax U21||?||4 players||FT|
|Hidde Jurjus GK||PSV||L||3 players||?|
|9 players||FT||3 players||without club|
Remaining needs: Graafschap has been very busy in the market. Eleven new faces have moved to the De Vijverberg Doetinchem. The squad is balanced but raw. A high-profile addition would upgrade the team.
Season outlook: De Jong will press on, intent to end his own Mourinho curse not staying beyond three seasons at any club. The 58-year-old’s chances seem very slim, though, owing to the weak squad. Graafschap needed the play-off to climb; they may require another to survive.
Manager: Alfons Groenendijk
Last season: 7th
|Yuning Zhang CF||West Brom||L||Bjorn Johnsen CF||AZ Alkmaar||€2.07M|
|2 players||FT||3 players||FT|
|4 players||U21, U19s||2 players||?|
Remaining needs: With around 25 players, Den Haag’s squad is Eredivisie’s weakest. The Hague's club depends predominately on homegrown talent but lost four first-team regulars, three on free transfers. Bjorn Johnsen and Edouard Duplan's absence will be felt most in the attack. Jonsen, in particular, notched 19 goals last term. On-loan West Brom youngster, Yuning Zhang, may be overwhelmed.
Season outlook: Former Manchester City midfielder Alfons Groenendijk will be in charge of Den Haag this term after narrowly missing out on Europe last season. With a depleted squad, he will be fortunate to remain with the elites unless something is done before the non-Brexit transfer window shuts down.
Manager: Dick Lukkien
Last season: 7th Eerste Divisie, Promoted via playoffs
|Luciano Slagveer RB||Lokeren||L||9 players||FT|
Remaining needs: Emmen must do without star striker Cas Peters to begin the campaign. The 25-year-old pilfered 17 goals last season as the splendidly namend Dick Lukkien recorded a historic promotion. Without the Dutchman, however, Emmen will surely struggle for goals.
Season outlook: Lukkien isn’t under any pressure at the club. The manager has already gained demigod status after gradually guiding the club all the way up to Eredivisie Promised Land in two years. A swift return to the Eerste Divisie is likely, though. Particularly after such an underwhelming summer bereft of serious reinforcements.
Manager: Adrie Poldervaart
Last season: 11th
|Mikael Anderson LW||Midtjylland||L||Mike van Duinen CF||Zwolle||€675K|
|5 players||FT||9 players||FT|
|2 players||?||2 players||?|
Remaining needs: Excelsior endured a Loris Karius-kind of campaign, conceding the second most goals among the top 12 teams. Experienced shot-stoppers Sonny Stevens and Maarten [meet] de Fockert should provide two good hands between them. Mike van Duinen's exit leaves Adrie Poldervaart exposed in attack.
Season outlook: Excelsior punched above their weight last season. They finished a respectable 11th position despite operating on a Pee Wee herman-thin budget. Unless Poldevaart can replicate that success, SBV will be cutting papers in the second tier.
Manager: Giovanni van Bronchhorst
Last season: 4th
|Luis Sinisterra RW||Once Caldas||€1.8M||Marko Vejinovic DM||AZ Alkmaar||€1.13M|
|Jordy Clasie DM||Southampton||L||Bilal Basacikoglu RW||Kayserspor||€900K|
|2 players||FT||Simon Gustafson AM||Utrecht||€900K|
|3 players||end/L||Gustavo Hamer CM||Zwolle||€270K|
|Emil Hansson AM||L|
|Kevin Dijks RB||end/L|
|Miguel Nelom LB||without club|
Remaining needs: Feyenoord are pleased to hold onto Steven Berghuis and Tonny Vilhena, the club’s top scorers with a combined 45 goals and assists. The prospect of both players linking up with Robin van Persie and a returning Jordy Clasie should frighten opposition.
Season outlook: Despite ending a disappointing fourth, Van Bronckhorst will oversee his fourth campaign. The Rotterdam-based giants have sufficient quality to challenge for Europe if not the title, although the latter would be a fitting sendoff for RVP.
Manager: Rene Eijer
Last season: 2nd Eerste Divisie, Promoted
|3 players||FT||`||3 players||FT|
|George Mells CM||Free agent||2 players||L|
|6 players||?||Perr Schuurs CB||Ajax||End/L|
|Rowen Koot GK||U19s||Stefan Askovski LB||without club|
Remaining needs: Of all three promoted teams, Sittard is the most deserving. In terms of recruitment, they’ve done the best business. Without breaking a sweat, the club has strengthened key areas from goal to attack.
Season outlook: The Sittard-based side has also added a new face to the dugout. Rene Eijer takes permanent charge from Claudio Braga, who did a decent job steering the ship following Sunday Oliseh's bloody end in February. Should Eijer settle in quickly, Fortuna will have no concerns regarding the Eerste Divisie anytime soon.
Manager: Danny Buijs
Last season: 12th
|Ritsu Doan AM||Gamba Osaka||€1.7M||Juninho Bacuna CM||Huddersfield||€2.5M|
|Julian Chabot CB||Sparta Rott||€1.2M||3 players||FT|
|Deyovaisio Zeefuik RB||Ajax||€300K|
|Ahmed Mendes Moreira CF||Kozakken Boys||FT|
|Mateo Cassierra CF||Ajax||L|
|Ruben Jenssen CM||Kaiserlautern||end/L|
Remaining needs: Juninho Bacuna’s departure to Huddersfield is yet to be addressed by Groningen. While Bacuna leaves a gaping hole in the squad, tying down last season's top scorer, Tom van Weert, is even more crucial. The 28-year-old buried 12 of theGreen-White Army’s 50 league goals.
Season outlook: Groningen is a young side averaging 23 years. Manager Danny Buijs is only 36. With a couple more additions, particularly in midfield and with experience, the club could better last season’s 12th-place finish.
Manager: Frank Wormuth
Last season: 10th
|Lennart Czyborra LB||Schalke U19||€250K||Jamiro Monteiro CM||Metz||€3M|
|8 players||FT||Dries Wuytens CB||Sparta Rott||?|
|3 players||?||7 players||FT|
|Tarik Kada RW||FC Eindhoven||end/L||Paul Gladon CF||Wolves||end/L|
|Kai Huisman CF||without club|
Remaining needs: Heracles’ summer business is a reoccurring Eredivisie theme. The Heraclieden auctioned Jamiro Monteiro to Metz, replaced their best player with free agent, Alexander Merkel. Bar Lennart Czyborra, all other signings were unattached, too.
Season outlook: The target for Heracles is obviously the continental play-off. Former Germany U-20 coach Frank Wormuth must make that happen or suffer the consequences. That seems a dead zone considering the club’s business. Survival is the more realistic target.
Manager: Jan Olde Riekerink
Last season: 8th
|Rodney Kongolo CM||ManCity U23||€840K||Denzel Dumfries RB||PSV||€5.5M|
|Shorel Floranus RB||Sparta Rott||€550K||4 players||FT|
|Filip Bednarek GK||De Graafschap||FT||2 players||end/L|
|Sam Lammers CF||PSV||L||Wouter van der Steen GK||without club|
Remaining needs: Heerenveen lost influential right-back Denzel Dumfries to PSV. Despite the obvious size disparity, 19-year-old Sherel [hehe, he said] Floranus is saddled with filling his boots. Five other senior squad members have left, with three new faces arriving.
Season outlook: The Super Frisians were unfortunate to miss the Europa League last term. Jan Olde Riekerink was brought in to correct the little flaws. However, the big problems are likely to trip up the former Galatasaray boss.
Manager: Mitchell van der Gaag
Last season: 14th
|Anouar Kali DM||Utrecht||?||3 players||FT|
|Pele van Anholt RB||Free agent||2 players||?|
|4 players||FT||4 players||L|
|3 players||Man City||L||6 players||end/L|
|3 players||U19s||3 players||without club|
Remaining needs: Breda’s inability to secure another loan deal for Manchester City youngster Thiery Ambrose may hurt them. Last season, the 19-year-old filched 10 league goals from 30 appearances. Ambrose chose a return to his native France with Lens. As a nice parting gift, NAC lured three other City starlets in addition to several free buys.
Season outlook: Poor firepower could undermine the campaign. New boss Mitchell van der Gaag is under pressure to keep the club in the top flight. Breda escaped the relegation play-off by a whisker. They may not shave it this time around.
Manager: Mark van Bommel
Last season: Eredivisie Champions
|Angelino LB||ManCity U23||€5.5M||Santiago Arias RB||AMadrid||€11M|
|Denzel Dumfries RB||Heerenveen||€5.5M||Joshua Brenet LB||Hoffenheim||€3.5M|
|3 players||FT||Jordy de Wijs CB||Hull City||€400K|
|2 players||U19/21s||5 players||L|
|Marco van Ginkel CM||Chelsea||end/L|
Remaining needs: The reigning champions showed courage by resist tempting offers for Hirving Lozano. The Mexican’s 18 strikes and eight assists played a huge part last season. But the Farmers couldn't look away from Atletico Madrid and Hoffenheim's big offers for Santiago Arias and Joshua Brenet respectively.
Season outlook: Both players were equally of equal importance to Lozano. The pair’s exit will further expose PSV’s backline. Mark van Bommel has work on his hands. It would be a surprise if the Farmers harvest the league again this term.
Manager: Jean-Paul de Jong
Last season: 5th
|Simon Gustafson AM||Feyenoord||€900K||Zakaria Labyad AM||Ajax||€5.4M|
|Joris van Overeem CM||AZ Alkmaar||€630K||Dario Dumic CB||Dynamo Dres||L-€135K|
|2 players||FT||Anouar Kali DM||NAC Breda||?|
|2 players||?||4 players||FT|
Remaining needs: Utrecht fans are yet to recover from 18-goal hero Zakaria Labyad’s big-money move to Ajax. Simon Gustafson could erase that memory should he replicate last season's exploits at Stadion Galgenwaard. The ex-Feyenoord midfielder contributed 16 strikes while on loan at Roda JC.
Season outlook: Five other recruits have moved to the club including Joris van Overeem from Alkmaar. After narrowly missing out last year to Vitesse, Jean-Paul de Jong’s aim is the Europa League. With quality in his squad, it's doable.
Manager: Maurice Steijn
Last season: 15th
|4 players||FT||Vito van Cooij RW||Zwolle||€650K|
|5 players||L||Clint Leemans CM||Zwolle||€350K|
|3 players||U19s||Leroy Labile LB||NEC Nijmegen||?|
|3 players||without club|
Remaining needs: VVV still have time to replace star midfielders Vito van Crooij and Clint Leemans, both snapped up by PEC Zwolle. The club’s primary mission was to seal a leaky defence that shipped in almost 60 goals.
Season outlook: Flirting back and forth with the Dutch top-tier is a regular sight around De Koel. Last season, VVV did well to retain its status. Although, following an inactive summer, Maurice Steijn and his men may return to the Eerste Divisie.
Manager: Leonid Slutsky
Last season: 6th
|Matus Bero AM||Trabzonspor||€1.48M||Guram Kashia CB||SJ Earthquakes||?|
|Rasmus Thelander CB||Zurich||€225K||2 players||FT|
|3 players||FT||Julian Lelieveld RB||Go Ahead Eagles||L|
|2 players||?||4 players||end/L|
Remaining needs: Vitesse was fearless in attack last season. Three players hit double figures: Bryan Linssen, Tim Matavz and Mason Mount. The last returned to parent club, Chelsea. the other pair stuck around.
Season outlook: Former Reading boss, Leonid Slutsky, will lead this campaign. The Russian has enough resources to cope with both domestic and continental rigours. Before aiming for next year's EL spot, he must overcome FC Basel for a place in this year's to-do.
Manager: Adrie Koster
Last season: 13th
|Atakan Akkaynak CM||BLeverkusen U19||£90K||Thomas Kok CM||Dordrecht||?|
|Thomas Meissner CB||Den Haag||?||6 players||FT|
|4 players||FT||7 players||end/L|
|3 players||L||3 players||without club|
|Kristofer Kristinsson LW||U19s|
|Dan Crowley AM||Cambuur||end/L|
Remaining needs: Second bottom in alphabetical order, Willem must dip into its pocket to avoid similar placement in the table. Replacing experienced duo Thomas Meißner and Jordens Peters is the first step but keeping Fran Sol could prove the most shrewd summer deal. The want-away Spanish striker hit 16 goals and laced a further five assists for teammates.
Season outlook: Adrie Koster is the new man saddled with keeping the club on the Eredivisie trail. That target is very much attainable owing to the squad depth and quality he inherited.
Manager: John van't Schip
Last season: 9th
|Mike van Duinen CF||Excelsior||£675K||Philippe Sandler CB||ManCity||£2.25M|
|Vito van Crooij RW||VVV Venlo||£585K||9 players||FT|
|Clint Leemans CM||VVV Venlo||£315K||Erik Israelsson CM||Valerenga||L|
|Gustavo Hamer CM||Feyenoord||£270K||2 players||end/L|
|Zian Flemming AM||Ajax U21||£113K|
|Darryl Lachman CB||Willem II||FT|
|Sepp van den Burg CB||U19s|
Remaining needs: Zwolle's faithful have reason to be excited this season. Not only did their darling club invest heavily, they poached from direct rivals. Excelsior forward Mike van Duinen tops the list. Philippe Sandler’s switch to Manchester City, however, leaves them weak in defence.
Season outlook: There was no managerial change at Zwolle. John van 't Schip continues for the third season after orchestrating a remarkable ninth-place finish. The new campaign could be even better. Schip's team should be able to sneak into the European zone.