The 2019/20 Eredivisie campaign gets underway this weekend. Football-Oranje editor Michael Bell looks at what to expect from all 18 teams this season.

Ajax

Defending champions Ajax may have lost both Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt this summer, but they have had an excellent summer transfer window. Hakim Ziyech and Dusan Tadic are still in Amsterdam, while Erik ten Hag’s options have been strengthened with several signings including Edson Alvarez, Ravzan Marin and Quincy Promes.

Ajax go into the season as the big favourites for the title once again due to the strength they possess in every position and will be hoping to impress in the Champions League again, should they get through two qualifiers.

Key Player: Dusan Tadic was a revelation last season and was key in Ajax’s success with 38 goals in all competitions. The Serbian signed a new long-term contract this summer and is the favourite to finish the season as top scorer.

Young Player to watch: Ajax have so many young talents to choose from, but this could be the year for Carel Eiting. The 21-year-old midfielder was all set to make his breakthrough last season but an injury kept him out for most of the campaign. Eiting could be Frenkie de Jong’s replacement.

Their aim for the season: Ajax are 8/11 favourites for the title with the bookmakers and it would be a big surprise if they don’t lift the title in May. Ten Hag has so many strong options all over the pitch.

PSV Eindhoven

PSV Eindhoven will be aiming to challenge Ajax this season for the title but Mark van Bommel is already under pressure after they were knocked out of the Champions League in the second qualifying round by FC Basel.

PSV have managed to keep hold of Steven Bergwijn and Hirving Lozano so far and despite the loss of Luuk de Jong, they look strong in attack with the arrival of Bruma and emergence of Donyell Malen.

However, their squad does not possess the strength and depths that rivals Ajax have and there are big question marks over the defence. Angelino and Daniel Schwaab are now gone and it remains to be seen whether Toni Lato, Olivier Boscagli and Timo Baumgartl can be suitable replacements.

Key Player: Steven Bergwijn is still in Eindhoven and PSV fans will be hoping the club convinces him to stay despite their exit from the Champions League. The 21-year-old is one of the best young wingers in Europe and will be key if they are to prevent Ajax from lifting the title.

Young player to Watch: Donyell Malen has the task of replacing De Jong up front but the 20-year-old is an exceptional talent. Quick, strong and a clever finisher, Malen is a different type of striker to De Jong but will be aiming to not only fire PSV to the title but also earn his first Netherlands call-up.

Their aim for the season: Winning the title is PSV’s goal but there are too many questions marks around the club at the moment. Can Malen score 20+ goals? Can their defence and midfield match Ajax’s? Can Van Bommel get his tactics right? Can they keep Lozano and Bergwijn?

Feyenoord

With Jaap Stam in charge, can Feyenoord bridge the gap to the top two or will they once again be fighting a battle for third spot?

Last season was a disappointment under Giovanni van Bronckhorst. They made an early exit from Europe and eventually finished third thanks to the excellence of Robin van Persie, who is now retired.

With Stam in charge, Feyenoord have looked to add to their squad but have only made the free transfer signings of Luciano Narsingh, Leroy Fer, Liam Kelly and goalkeeper Nick Marsman.

Tonny Vilhena has departed for Krasnodar but Feyenoord have managed to keep hold of Steven Berghuis despite keen interest from PSV Eindhoven.

Key Player: Nicolai Jorgensen was hampered by injuries last season and will miss the first few weeks of the new campaign. When he returns, Jorgensen will be first-choice striker and will be keen to prove himself ahead of a move next summer. If he can recover his form from two season ago then Feyenoord have a potential league top scorer.

Young Player to Watch: Attacking midfielder Orkun Kokcu is one of the finest young talents to come through the Rotterdam club’s academy in recent years. The 18-year-old made 11 Eredivisie appearances last season, scoring three goals.

Aim for the season: A title challenge seems to far away for this Feyenoord side at the moment. Stam should be aiming for third and a possible run in the Europa League and KNVB Cup. Stam needs to give the club’s youth players a chance this season as there are several top talents coming through.

AZ Alkmaar

With some of the most exciting talents in the Eredivisie, AZ Alkmaar go into the season looking to challenge for third spot.

AZ looked on course for third at times last season but eventually came fourth. John van den Brom has since departed for Utrecht and Arnie Slot is now in charge.

The club have been quiet on the transfer front with only Jordy Clasie and Yukinari Sugawara coming in. Mats Seuntjens is gone while they couldn’t convince Adam Maher to sign a permanent deal. Captain Guus Til is set to join Spartak Moscow but is still at the club for the time being.

AZ have already begun their season in the Europa League and overcame BK Hacken 3-0 on aggregate. They will still be active in the transfer market to look for a replacement for Til.

Key Player: Calvin Stengs is an exceptional talent and heading into the campaign fully fit he will be one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. The winger will be aiming for double figures in goals and assists and could earn his first Netherlands call-up.

Young Player to Watch: Myron Boadu will be AZ’s starting centre-forward this season and has already begun the season in fine form with a goal and two assists against BK Hacken. The 18-year-old suffered a horrible ankle injury last season but this looks like his year to shine.

Aim for the season: To challenge Feyenoord for third spot and go far in the Europa League is the main aims for AZ this season. With Boadu, Stengs and Teun Koopmeiners, AZ have three of the finest Dutch talents in the league and will be an exciting team to watch.

Utrecht

With John van den Brom now in charge and a number of new faces coming in, can Utrecht challenge for a top three finish this season?

The excitement around Utrecht was high heading into the campaign with a new head coach and the arrival of Adam Maher, Vaclav Cerny and Adrian Dalmau.

However, some of that excitement has now vanished after the club’s embarrassing exit in the Europa League to Bosnian side Zrinjski Mostar. The Cathedral City club will now be aiming to make moves in the Eredivisie and challenge AZ and Feyenoord.

Key Player: Adrian Dalmau was top scorer for Heracles Almelo last season and will now lead the line for Utrecht. If he can keep scoring goals then Utrecht have a fine forward on their books. It was significant that he missed the Europa League ties.

Young Player to Watch: Justin Lonwijk was linked with Roma but the PSV midfielder/Striker chose Utrecht instead. The 19-year-old has big potential and could be a fine signing for the club.

Aim for the season: After the early exit from Europe, Utrecht will now be focusing solely on the league and have a squad capable of challenging for a top four finish.

Vitesse Arnhem

Missing out on Europe was a blow for Vitesse Arnhem last season and Leonid Slutsky will be hoping his side can challenge for a top three spot this year.

Martin Odegaard will be a big miss but Vitesse have managed to shift some of their dead weight this summer with Alexander Buttner, Maikel van der Werff and Khalid Karimi all departing.

Riechedly Bazoer, Jay-Roy Grot, Kostas Lamprou and Oussama Tannane all seem great signings for the club, while Bryan Linssen remains despite stating his ambition for a move.

Key Player: If he can stay fit then Vitesse have an excellent Eredivisie striker in Tim Matavz, Injuries have held the forward back in recent years but he is the man that can score the goals to put Vitesse in the race for third.

Young player to Watch: Powerful winger Jay-Roy Grot has arrived at his boyhood club on loan from Leeds United. He wasn’t able to prove himself in England and did OK on loan with VVV last season. The Netherlands youth international will now be looking to make a big impression in Arnhem.

Aim for the season: Slutsky will be challenging his players to fight for third but at the moment they look weaker than the other teams around them. A European playoff spot should definitely be on the cards, though.

Groningen

After flirting with relegation at times last season, Danny Buijs did an excellent job to turn Groningen’s campaign around and they finished in the European Playoff spots.

This summer, key men Ludovit Reis and Mimoun Mahi have departed but so far Ritsu Doan has remained at the club. They have also been able to strengthen their squad with the arrival of striker Charlison Benschop, along with Azor Matisuwa, Bart van Hintum and Mo El Hankouri.

Key Player: On his day, Ritsu Doan is one of the finest attacking midfielders in the league and its a surprise that Groningen have managed to keep hold of the Japanese international, who was linked with Ajax earlier this year. If he stays past August, his creativity will be key.

Young Player to Watch: Kaj Sierhuis joined the club in January on a one-and-a-half year loan deal from Ajax. He scored three goals before the end of the season but will be aiming to make a bigger impression this season. His reputation as a youth player at Ajax was huge and now its time to prove his credentials.

Aim for the Season: Groningen have the talent in their squad to challenge for a top eight finish. Buijs did a great job last season and their squad looks slightly stronger this season. It could be a very good season in the Euroborg.

Heracles Almelo

Heracles Almelo were excellent last season and fully deserved their 7th place finish which earned them a European playoff spot.

Frank Wormuth’s side were great to watch but now go into the new campaign without their three star men. Top scorer Adrian Dalmau has joined Utrecht, while Brandley Kuwas is also gone and Kristoffer Peterson is on his way to Swansea City.

To replace the trio, Cyriel Dessers has been brought in from Utrecht, while exciting Brazilian midfielder Mauro Junior joins on loan from PSV Eindhoven. Talented Ajax midfielder Teun Bijleveld is also a new recruit.

Pre-season was positive for the club with Bayer Leverkusen one of their scalps.

Key Player: Cyriel Dessers never got going at Utrecht but will now be first-choice striker at Heracles. He has a big task to replace Dalmau, but can definitely score goals if given the chances.

Young Player to Watch: Bijleveld grew a big reputation with AZ and then Jong Ajax as a silky midfielder with plenty of talent. The 21-year-old could be an excellent signing for Heracles this season and he will be keen to show Ajax they were wrong to let him go.

Aim for the Season: A European playoff spot will be their aim again but they must do without their three key men from last season. Warmuth is a good manager, though, and Heracles have recruited well. Top ten should be a certainty.

Heerenveen

Last season’s 11th place finish was a major disappointment for Heerenveen but they will be aiming for better under new coach Johnny Jansen.

The Frisian’s were spared a disastrous campaign, mostly due to the goals from Sam Lammers and Michel Vlap. However, both are no longer at the club, along with Kik Pierie, Pelle van Amersfoort, Morten Thorsby, Yuki Kobayashi and Jizz Hornkamp.

New recruits have been slow to come in but Jens Odegaard, who is on loan from Sassuolo, looks a great addition, while Ricardo van Rhijn adds some experience to the defence. Fans are also excited about the arrival of winger Chidera Ejuke from Valerenga.

Key Player: Replacing Vlap will be no easy feat for anyone but Hicham Faik has been signed to add creativity to the Heerenveen midfield. Faik has plenty of Eredivisie experience with Roda JC and Excelsior and could be a shrewd addition.

Young Player to Watch: 20-year-old striker Jens Odgaard has arrived from Sassuolo and has made a big impression during pre-season with some lovely goals. He could make the club’s fans forget Sam Lammers and score the goals to move Heerenveen into the top ten again.

Aim for the season: Heerenveen wants to finish in the top ten but it remains to be seen whether their squad is good enough. Odgaard looks promising but if he cant score the goals they may need to add another striker before the window shuts. Goals are the big question mark around Heerenveen at the moment.

PEC Zwolle

Last season was not a success for PEC Zwolle, who had ambitions for a European playoff spot but ended up just staving off a relegation battle.

Jaap Stam has since departed for Feyenoord and under new head coach John Stegeman the club will be looking to regain their spot in the Eredivisie top half.

Key players Sepp van den Berg, Kinsgley Ehizibue and Younes Namli have all left the club this summer, but Sam Kersten, Dennis Johnsen and Illias Bel Hassani all look like good additions to the squad. They have also brought in Xavier Mous, who will be their new number one goalkeeper.

Key Player: Vito van Crooij is a very talented Eredivisie winger and was one of the shining lights in a difficult campaign. He scored nine goals last season and will be aiming for double figures.

Young Player to Watch: 21-year-old centre-back Sam Kersten arrives at the club with a big reputation from Den Bosch. The defender will slot straight into Stegeman’s defence and will be aiming to impress the big clubs and Netherlands U21 boss.

Aim for the season: Finishing back in the top ten will definitely be the aim for PEC Zwolle this season and possibly a European playoff spot. Their squad definitely has enough talent to make this happen.

ADO Den Haag

ADO Den Haag almost made it into the European Playoffs last season but just missed out by one spot. However, this campaign could be a struggle for the club with top scorer and by far their best player Nasser El Khayati set to leave for the middle-east.

El Khayati scored 17 goals from midfielder for ADO Den Haag last season which propelled them into ninth place. However, he will no longer be available for Alfons Groenendijk, who has only seen Michiel Kramer arrive so far this summer.

Sheraldo Becker has also departed to leave ADO Den Haag looking short of options at the moment.

Key Player: Michiel Kramer is back at the club after unsuccessful spells with Feyenoord, Sparta Rotterdam, Maccabi Haifa and Utrecht. He will be tasked with spearheading the attack and keeping the club away from danger.

Young Player to Watch: Netherlands youth international Hennos Asmelash spent last season on loan with Top Oss and made a good impression. the 20-year-old defender will now be looking to break into the ADO Den Haag side and prove himself in the Eredivisie.

Aim for the season: 9th place would be a dream again for ADO Den Haag but how do they replace El Khayati? Without their star man, a poor campaign could be on the horizon and even a relegation battle.

VVV Venlo

It’s been a summer of change at VVV Venlo with Maurice Steijn no longer in charge of the club.

The head coach had worked wonders with VVV and once again comfortably kept them in the Eredivisie last season. Now with Robert Maaskant in charge will VVV still manage to keep their top flight status?

Top scorer Peniel Mlapa is gone, along with Jay-Roy Grot, Lars Unnerstall and Patrick Joosten. However, there are eight new faces including talented forward Jerome Sinclair on loan from Watford.

Key Player: Elias Soriano has scored plenty of goals for German lower league sides during his career but he has now been signed by VVV as the replacement for Mlapa. With few options up front, the Italian 30-year-old will need to bang in the goals to keep VVV above the drop zone.

Young Player to Watch: 21-year-old American attacker Haji Wright had a huge reputation when he joined Schalke in 2017. He may have failed to live up to the hype in Germany but has now joined VVV where he gets a chance to showcase his talents.

Aim for the season: Maurice Steijn did a great job to keep VVV comfortably in the Eredivisie but the question is now how big an impact will his departure be? Robert Maaskant’s main aim will be to keep the club above the bottom three, but he may struggle to do so with this squad.

Willem II

Last season was definitely a success for Willem II, who not only finished tenth but also reached the KNVB Cup final before going down to Ajax.

Adrie Koster will be hoping for more of the same this season but it’s been a quiet summer in the transfer market and the Tilburg side look a lot weaker after losing several key players.

Alexander Isak was only on loan, while Daniel Crowley, Renato Tapia, and Diego Palacios are all no longer at the club. Only four players have been brought in, though, with Che Nunnely looking the most exciting signing so far.

Key Player: Goalkeeper Timo Wellenreuther has been exceptional for Willem II since joining from Schalke. With Willem II’s squad looking thin he may be a busy man this season and will be key if the club are to avoid dropping into trouble.

Young Player to Watch: Che Nunnely has been highly regarded in the Ajax academy for years and is a regular for Netherlands youth teams. The winger was tired of waiting for his breakthrough in Amsterdam and has now joined Willem II. The 20-year-old could be a revelation.

Aim for the Season: After such a successful campaign it is frustrating for Willem II fans that the club have not strengthened this summer so far and their squad looks very weak. Willem II will be hoping to survive but that may not happen if a couple of new faces don’t arrive before the window shuts.

Emmen

Emmen were favourites for relegation last season in their first ever Eredivisie campaign but they were a revelation and survived rather comfortably in 14th place.

Coach Dick Lukkien worked wonders with his squad last season and he has seen Emmen strengthen their squad over the summer.

Their has been 12 new arrivals including PSV attacker Nikolai Laursen, Excelsior defender Desevio Payne and Wisla Krakow striker Marko Kolar. Several key players from last season have also departed, though, most importantly Caner Cavlan and goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen.

Key Player: Experienced forward and Emmen captain Anco Jansen was the key man for the club last season with five goals and eight assists. Emmen will once again look for his leadership this season.

Young Player to Watch: 21-year-old Nikolai Laursen had a good reputation in Jong PSV’s squad but just couldn’t make his breakthrough in Eindhoven. Now the winger has the chance to prove himself in the Eredivisie with Emmen.

Aim for the season: Top flight consolidation will once again be the aim but Lukkien will no doubt be hoping for a comfortable mid-table finish to progress even further on last season.

Fortuna Sittard

Fortuna Sittard just finished outside the relegation playoff spots last season and will be hoping for a safer campaign this season.

One place and one point was all that separated Fortuna and Excelsior after the final round of matches but that will count as a success for the club, who had spent 16 years waiting for promotion.

It’s been a busy summer in Limburg with several players departing such as striker Andrij Novakovich, and star winger Lazoras Lamprou, who were only on loan last season.

The club have relied on loan’s once again this summer with Alex Carbonell arriving from Valencia and Felix Passlack from Borussia Dortmund. Do they have enough quality to keep Fortuna in the top flight though?

Key Player: Mark Diemers was undoubtedly key in Fortuna Sittard avoiding relegation last season and despite interest from other clubs, he remains for the time being in Limburg. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder scored seven goals and gave seven assists last season.

Young Player to Watch: Former Barcelona youth Alex Carbonell joined Valencia this summer and was immediately loaned to Fortuna Sittard. The midfielder was a big talent in La Masia but hasn’t lived up to the potential yet. Can he star for Fortuna Sittard this season?

Aim for the season: Fortuna Sittard just avoided relegation last season and have lost several key players this summer. They will be pleased with another 15th placed finish should they manage to get it.

Sparta Rotterdam

After bouncing back from relegation, Sparta Rotterdam once again return to the top flight and with a talented young squad will be keen to get rid of their yo-yo club status.

Henk Fraser had the task of getting them promotion last season and he achieved that through the playoffs. Can he now keep the club safely in the Eredivisie?

Sparta have a squad packed with excellent young talents such as Halil Dervisoglu, Deroy Duarte and Abdou Harroui, but also possess experienced Eredivisie veterans such as striker Lars Veldwijk. They also managed to sign highly rated PSV Eindhoven midfielder Dante Rigo on a season-long loan deal.

Pre-season has been positive for the club and they look all set for a good campaign.

Key Player: Lars Veldwijk has proven in the past that he can be a prolific goalscorer in the Eredivisie and he will need to find the net consistently to keep Sparta above the drop zone this season. The 27-year-old will be the club captain this season and has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

Young player to Watch: Sparta have 4 or 5 exciting talents in their squad but Halil Dervisoglu is something special. The 19-year-old winger was excellent last season in the second division and was being eyed up by Besiktas and several other Turkish sides this summer. However, he remains in Rotterdam for now and will be one to keep an eye on.

Aim for the season: Avoiding relegation is obviously key for Sparta this season but with some standout talents, the club could easily surprise and finish in the top ten.

FC Twente

After bouncing straight back up from the Keuken Kampioen Divisie last season, FC Twente are looking to consolidate their place in the Eredivisie once again.

Financial issues have ravaged the Enschede club in recent years but they eased to the second division title last season. However, at the end of the season, head coach Marino Pušić was sacked and replaced by Gonzalo Manuel García García, who at 35 takes on his first managerial position.

Garcia Garcia has inherited a decent squad bolstered by some interesting loan signings and the arrival of Dutch international right-back Paul Verhaegh. However, financial issues mean the club are looking to offload Tom Boere and Jari Oosterwijk and the club look short of attacking options.

Key Player: Spanish winger Aitor Cantalapiedra was excellent in FC Twente’s title winning campaign last season, scoring 13 goals and giving eight assists. The 23-year-old former Barcelona youth brings a touch of class to the Twente side and will be fun to watch in the top flight.

Young Player to Watch: FC Twente beat off a lot of competition to seal the loan signing of talented Japanese attacking midfielder Keito Nakamura. The 19-year-old arrives from Gamba Osaka with the reputation of being one of Japan’s brightest young talents and he will be keen to showcase his talent in the Eredivisie.

Aim for the season: With such an inexperienced coach, FC Twente will be aiming for survival this season. If the loanee’s gel and goals can be found in the squad, then FC Twente may survive comfortably in mid-table.

RKC Waalwijk

After a surprise promotion through the playoffs RKC Waalwijk are back in the top flight for the first time since 2014.

Coached by former Netherlands U21 boss Fred Grim, RKC Waalwijk finished eighth in the Keueken Kampioen Divisie last season and nobody expected their return to the Eredivisie.

The club will now look to emulate Emmen’s achievements from last season but must do so with a thin squad, that has only seen four faces arrive. Only one of those, Sven Nieuwpoort, has any Eredivisie experience.

Key Player: Stijn Spierings played a key role in RKC’s promotion last season after joining the club from Sparta Rotterdam. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder has Eredivisie experience in the past with AZ and Sparta which will be crucial for Grim’s side.

Young Player to Watch: One of RKC’s summer recruits was Jong PSV Eindhoven forward Lennerd Daneels. The Belgian winger has over 40 appearances for Jong PSV and was highly rated for a time in Eindhoven but his breakthrough never came. At RKC he has the chance to prove himself.

Aim for the season: RKC look to have the weakest squad in the Eredivisie at the moment and anything but automatic relegation will have been a successful campaign for the club.




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