The Italian Serie A begins this weekend with a renewed interest from the Netherlands thanks to the appointment of Frank de Boer at Inter Milan, while eight Dutch players will look to make their mark during the campaign.

  • By Michael Bell
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de boer intDutch interest in the top flight of Italian football has always been high since Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten dominated Europe with AC Milan in the late 80’s, early 90’s, with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Jaap Stam, Edgar Davids and more recently Wesley Sneijder following in their footsteps and tasting success in Serie A.

The Oranje influence hasn’t been as strong in recent years, with the Premier League or Bundesliga becoming the destination of choice for many of the Eredivisie’s best, but there is an excitement in the Netherlands over the upcoming campaign.

The appointment of Frank de Boer as the new Inter Milan coach has peaked high interest from back home, with the former Ajax boss aiming to become the first Dutch coach to impress in Italy, with Clarence Seedorf enduring a troubled short spell in charge of AC Milan at the end of 2014. After finishing fourth last season, De Boer will be aiming to get the club back into the top three and Champions League football, but his squad looks light compared to their rivals and the coach himself has pleaded for time in order to get his philosophy embedded into his players, claiming that you will not see his Inter Milan until at least January.

Juventus will be heavy favourites for the title once again, having strengthened their squad considerably, but one player hoping to make an impact in Turin will be Ouasim Bouy. The young Dutchman impressed on loan at PEC Zwolle last season and returned to the Serie A champions this summer and remains part of their squad ahead of the new campaign. The midfielder has been training with the first team in pre-season and with Paul Pogba leaving, Bouy may get a chance to impress.

The main rival’s to Juventus will be Napoli, spearheaded by former Ajax striker Arkaduisz Milik, and Roma, who will be able to call on the services of a revitalised Kevin Strootman. The Dutch international midfielder battled back to the Roma starting line-up at the end of last season after spending almost two years out through injury, and will be aiming to play a major role in their title challenge. His physical approach in midfielder was sorely missed for both club and country, with Netherlands hoping Strootman will also stay injury free to guide their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Another Dutchman aiming to impress after a long spell out will be Stefan de Vrij who missed most of last season as Lazio struggled to eighth place but has returned to full fitness this summer. The Netherlands centre-back was excellent in his first Serie A campaign as Lazio finished 3rd and will be aiming to form a strong partnership with fellow Dutchman Wesley Hoedt, who has been a revelation for the club after signing from AZ Alkmaar last year. Ricardo Kishna’s first season in Rome was ruined by injuries, with the winger only making ten league appearances, and he will be another looking to make a big impact this year.

Fiorentina will be looking to build on their 5th placed finish from last season with 19-year-old right back Kevin Diks joining from Vitesse Arnhem. The youngster is highly regarded as one of the Netherlands top talents and he will be looking to prove himself after making the step up to a bigger league early in his career.

Sassuolo were a surprise package last season, finishing sixth and they added Dutch defender Timo Letschert to their squad for the new campaign. The centre-back impressed for Utrecht last season and was called up to the Dutch national team, but will now be looking to adapt to his first campaign outside of the Netherlands.  Chievo are another club who overachieved last season, finishing ninth and they are looking to make a big impact in the league this season. A number of new players are expected to join the club over the next few weeks, including Jonathan de Guzman who’s surplus to requirements at Napoli. Ajax fans will also want to keep an eye on newcomers Pescara, who have loaned Robert Muric from the Amsterdam club this summer.

The influx of Dutchmen to the league doesn’t look over either with Anwar El Ghazi being heavily linked with AC Milan, while Rick Karsdorp, Jetro Willems and Hakim Ziyech all have admirers in Italy. De Boer’s presence at Inter Milan will also see the club linked with a number of Ajax and Dutch players in the next few weeks.

Key ties in the first weekend:

Saturday 20th August: Roma (Strootman) v Udinese

Sunday 21st August: Chievo v Inter (De Boer), Atalanta v Lazio (Hoedt, De Vrij, Kishna),

Monday 22nd August: Palermo v Sassuolo (Letschert)

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