2018 has been a great year for Dutch football with Ajax’s progression in Europe, PSV’s dominance in the Eredivisie and the resurgence of the Netherlands national team. We at Football-Oranje have picked our top five Dutch stars of the year who have excelled for both club and country.

Frenkie de Jong

It has been an incredible year for the midfielder, who was struggling to get into the Ajax eleven in 2017, but is now regarded as one of the brightest talents in Europe and headed for a major transfer next summer.

De Jong spent some time in the Ajax defence but since his permanent switch to the midfield for club and country, the 21-year-old hasn’t looked back. He has played a major role in Ajax’s surge into the Champions League knockout rounds and is considered to be a major reason for Netherlands revival.

Ronald Koeman handed De Jong his debut in the friendly win over Peru and he instantly impressed. He would go onto dominate the French and German midfields as Netherlands topped their UEFA Nations League group and booked their place in the semi-finals.

De Jong’s performances this year have had tongues wagging all over Europe and with the Champions League and Nations League knockout rounds to come next year as well as the start of the Euro 2020 qualifiers, we cant wait to see his progression.

Matthijs de Ligt

If 2017 was a good year for De Ligt, 2018 has been even better for the 19-year-old, who is quickly developing into one of the top centre-back’s in the game.

For the Dutch national team, De Ligt started the year by shutting down Cristiano Ronaldo in a friendly win over Portugal and has since formed a formidable partnership with Virgil van Dijk.

At Ajax, De Ligt has been a colossus in the Eredivisie and was deservedly given the captain’s armband in the absence of Joel Veltman at the start of the season. The centre-back has looked comfortable in the Champions League and in the UEFA Nations League, making a summer transfer almost certain as he looks to develop even further.

Winning the 2018 Golden Boy Award has also furthered De Ligt’s reputation and he has the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all scrambling for his signature.

Georginio Wijnaldum

Often maligned for his performances for the Dutch national team in recent years, Georginio Wijnaldum has had an excellent year for club and country in 2018.

Wijnaldum has adapted perfectly to his controlling role in Jurgen Klopp’s star-studded Liverpool side that has raced to the top of the Premier League this season and has gained plaudits from the clubs fans and the media.

De Jong’s introduction into the Dutch national team has seen Wijnaldum pushed forward in Ronald Koeman’s side and he has also excelled with more attacking responsibility. The highlight of his year was a wonderful goal which sealed the 3-0 victory over Germany.

Wijnaldum seems to be getting better and better for Liverpool at the moment and his confidence is great to see when he pulls on an Oranje jersey. The difference in his performances over the past 12-14 months has been exceptional.

Memphis Depay

There aren’t many attackers around Europe that have had a better year than Memphis Depay, who has been decisive for club and country.

After the turn of the year, Memphis was played more centrally for Lyon and his form exploded. With ten goals and seven assists in the final nine Ligue 1 games, the forward fired Lyon to second and a Champions League spot. This season he has also contributed eleven assists and six goals for Lyon in all competitions.

His form for his club has been great but for Netherlands he has been even better and Memphis is one of the main reasons behind Oranje’s surge over the last twelve months. He has solved Netherlands striker problem, scoring five goals in 2018, including a cheeky Panenka penalty in the 2-0 win over World Champions France.

Memphis has put his disappointment at Manchester United fully behind him and the now 24-year-old is playing the best football of his career. He is a superstar for Netherlands and a key man for Lyon, but over the next 12 months the ambitious forward will want more and a move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs will be on his mind.

Virgil van Dijk

It has been a whirlwind year for Van Dijk which started with him becoming the World’s most expensive defender ever in a £75 million move from Southampton to Liverpool.

Since then, Van Dijk has been in exceptional form, shoring up the defence at Liverpool, who reached the Champions League final and currently top the Premier League. He is a fans favourite at Anfield and for many the player of the season so far.

For Netherlands, Van Dijk was named captain under Koeman and has finally brought his club form to Oranje after criticism for some of his performances over the past few years. He alongside Matthijs de Ligt have formed a formidable partnership which makes Netherlands hard to break down. He is also a big threat going forward scoring in both games against Germany including the crucial equaliser that sealed top spot in the Nations League group.

2018 has been excellent for Van Dijk but next year could be even better if Liverpool seal the Premier League and Netherlands continue their form in the Nations League and Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Van Dijk is a phenomenon and it is great to see that Netherlands once again have a genuinely world-class player in their ranks.

That is our top five for 2018. Honourable mentions for Luuk de Jong, Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Babel who also had great years but just missed out on our list.

Did we forget anyone else? Let us know in the comments section.




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