The U21 European Championships begin at the end of March with the Netherlands facing Romania, Hungary, and Germany. Michael Bell takes a look at the Jong Oranje stars hoping to book a place in the knockout rounds.

Justin Bijlow

Age: 23 Club: Feyenoord Position: Goalkeeper

A very talented goalkeeper, who has been Feyenoord number one since the start of last season. However, he has struggled with injuries during this campaign, which has limited him to only eight appearances in the Eredivisie. He is back fit and can take his place in the Netherlands U21 squad. He is the strongest goalkeeper in the squad on paper and should be Erwin van de Looi’s number one. He already has 11 caps for the U21’s.

Maarten Paes

Age: 22 Club: Utrecht Position: Goalkeeper

The 22-year-old was a regular for Utrecht last season and started this campaign as number one, but has lost his place in Rene Hake’s side at the moment. He is currently a regular for Jong Utrecht in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. Paes is a talented goalkeeper, who has five caps for Netherlands U21’s.

Kjell Scherpen

Age: 21 Club: Ajax Position: Goalkeeper

Ajax’s number two at the moment, Scherpen finally made his debut for the club this season but conceded four in the thrilling 5-4 KNVB Cup win over Utrecht. Is a Jong Ajax regular and still considered to be a big talent. He has four caps for Netherlands U21’s.

Sven Botman

Age: 20 Club: Lille Position: Centre-back

One of the players that is unlucky not to be part of the main squad, Botman has been a revelation in Ligue 1 since joining Lille from Ajax in the summer. The centre-back has been key as Lille top of the table in France and will now be looking to grow his reputation even further at the Euros. The defender has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool and there will no doubt be scouts keeping their eye on him during the tournament. Botman was part of the last full Netherlands squad but must add to his three U21 caps at the moment.

Mitchell Bakker

Age: 20 Club: PSG Position: Left-back

Bakker joined PSG from Ajax in 2019 and has gone on to make 34 appearances for the French giants. He has been a regular this season, mostly due to suspensions and injuries to PSG’s regular left-back. Bakker is a tall and powerful defender, with ambitions of making the full Oranje squad as soon as possible. Currently, he has six caps for the U21’s

Tyrell Malacia

Age: 21 Club: Feyenoord Position: Left-back

One of the most underrated players in the Eredivisie this season, Malacia has cemented his place as the starting left-back of Feyenoord. Malacia has made 24 appearances for Dick Advocaat’s side and has been getting better and better. He currently has four caps for Netherlands U21’s and will battle Bakker for the starting spot.

Danilo Doekhi

Age: 22 Club: Vitesse Arnhem Position: Centre-back

Vitesse Arnhem are battling for a Champions League spot this season and one of their stars at the back has been Doekhi, who has made 29 appearances. Strong in the air and on the ball, Doekhi is a former Ajax youth product and will be hoping to start for Van de Looi’s side. He currently has four caps for the Netherlands U21’s.

Deyovaisio Zeefuik

Age: 23 Club: Hertha Berlin Position: Right-back

Zeefuik was a key man for Groningen last season and was the starting right-back for the U21’s during qualification for the Euro’s. However, he has not been a regular for Hertha Berlin since joining the club in the summer, making only 15 Bundesliga appearances, mostly from the bench. Zeefuik is a strong defender and loves to get forward. He currently has 11 caps for the U21’s, scoring twice.

Jordan Teze

Age: 21 Club: PSV Eindhoven Position: Centre-back/Right-back

Since Roger Schmidt took over PSV in the summer, Teze has been a key player for the club in a centre-back role. He came through the academy as a right-back but has excelled since being pushed into the centre. Big and strong, Teze is good with the ball at his feet and offers Van de Looi options. He currently has three caps for the U21’s.

Perr Schuurs

Age: 21 Club: Ajax Position: Centre-back

Since Matthijs de Ligt left Ajax, Schuurs has been a regular in the Ajax starting line-up, making over 50 appearances for Erik ten Hag’s side. He is strong on the ball and good in the air, but can sometimes be prone to an error, which has seen him lose his place at Ajax in recent weeks. However, he has been a regular for Netherlands U21’s, earning 11 caps. He was called up to the full Netherlands squad last year, but did not make his debut.

Lutsharel Geertruida

Age: 20 Club: Feyenoord Position: Right-back

Drafted in at the last minute to replace the ill Jurrien Timber, Geertruida is coming into the tournament in the middle of a very impressive campaign for the young right-back. Feyenoord may be struggling, but the 20-year-old has been a bright light in the campaign with his powerful performances on the right catching the eye. He has also made an impact in front of goal, scoring five times in the Eredivisie. Geertruida possibly should have been in the squad from the get-go and he will challenge Zeefuik for the right-back slot at the tournament.

Jurgen Ekkelenkamp

Age: 20 Club: Ajax Position: Midfielder

The box-to-box midfielder is a product of the Ajax academy and has made 35 appearances for the club since making his debut back in 2018. He has not been able to hold down a spot in Erik ten Hag’s side, and most of his appearances this season have been made from the bench. Ekkelenkamp has a keen eye for goal and is a hard worker in the middle of the pitch. Ekkelenkamp has two appearances for Netherlands U21’s so far, scoring three times.

Teun Koopmeiners

Age: 23 Club: AZ Alkmaar Position: Midfielder

Van de Looi has been given a big boost with Frank de Boer allowing Koopmeiners to play for the U21’s instead of taking his place in the main squad. The AZ Alkmaar star has been outstanding for his club once again this season, scoring 16 times and adding seven assists in 35 games. Koopmeiners is one of the most talented controlling midfielders in the Eredivisie and he will captain Jong Oranje at the tournament. His vision and passing ability are great and you can expect Koopmeiners to be one of the stars of the Championships. He has 17 caps for Netherlands U21’s, scoring four times.

Abdou Harroui

Age: 23 Club: Sparta Rotterdam Position: Midfielder

One of the most underrated players in the Eredivisie, Harroui has been a star for Sparta Rotterdam over the past two seasons and deservedly earns a spot in the Jong Oranje squad. A defensive midfielder, Harroui is one of the best tacklers and readers of the game in the Eredivisie, and can score goals. In 93 appearances for Sparta, Harroui has 17 goals and 11 assists. He has nine caps for Netherlands U21’s, scoring once. The tournament could be a shop window for the midfielder.

Dani de Wit

Age: 23 Club: AZ Alkmaar Position: Midfielder

A goal scoring attacking midfielder, De Wit has been laid off with injuries this season but recently made his comeback and can take his place in the U21 squad. He has made 54 appearances for AZ since joining the club from Ajax, scoring nine times. However, his record for Netherlands U21’s is incredible with 10 goals in 12 caps. Will be crucial for Van de Looi because of his ability to always be in the right place at the right time in the box.

Ludovit Reis

Age: 20 Club: VFL Osnabruck (on loan from Barcelona) Position: Midfielder

After breaking out at Groningen, Reis made the move to Barcelona in 2019, but spent last season with their B team before joining VFL Osnabruck in the summer on loan. The defensive midfielder has made 20 appearances for the club this season and will be hoping to make an impression on Ronald Koeman at the Euro’s. A tenacious midfielder, Reis excels at chasing down the ball and has excellent vision for a pass. He has eight caps so far for Netherlands U21’s.

Ferdi Kadioglu

Age: 21 Club: Fenerbahce Position: Winger

Kadioglu made 70 appearances for NEC Nijmegen before being snapped up by Fenerbahce back in 2018. After starting with the club’s reserves, Kadioglu has broken into the first-team and has so far made 56 appearances, scoring seven times and adding nine assists. A gifted attacking midfielder, with great dribbling ability, Fenerbahce have converted Kadioglu into a winger recently and Erwin van de Looi has also used him in this position. Kadioglu was a key player during qualification for the Euros, and will be aiming to put himself in the limelight during the tournament. He so far has 12 caps for Netherlands U21’s, scoring once.

Noa Lang

Age: 21 Club: Club Brugge Position: Winger

A player that may have been expecting to be named in the full Netherlands squad, Lang has been excellent for Club Brugge after joining the club from Ajax last summer. A direct and speedy winger, Lang has scored 13 times and contributed nine assists this season in Belgium and will be one to watch for the U21’s. Lang is a player that scouts will be keeping a keen eye on during the tournament, with the forward hoping to make a big impact. He so far has one goal in six caps for the U21’s.

Justin Kluivert

Age: 21 Club: RB Leipzig (on loan from Roma) Position: Winger

Kluivert broke onto the scene with Ajax and quickly became regarded as a wonderkid, but the winger has struggled since leaving for AS Roma in 2018, and is currently on loan with RB Leipzig as he tries to regain his form. Kluivert is a talent with good dribbling ability and a decent finish and he will be a key player for the Netherlands at the tournament. He is one of the members of the squad that has caps for the Netherlands squad and will not be giving up on a place at Euro 2020 this summer. However, he needs to start performing and the U21 Euro’s may give him that platform. In nine caps so far for the U21’s, Kluivert has four goals.

Javairo Dilrosun

Age: 22 Club: Hertha Berlin Position: Winger

The former Ajax and Manchester City youth academy player, has had a frustrating time with Hertha Berlin, with an injury limiting him to nine appearances this season. However, he gets the chance to now impress for Netherlands U21’s which could earn the speedy winger a move in the summer, should his situation in Germany not improve. Direct, tricky and full of pace, Dilrosun has seven caps so far for Netherlands U21’s, scoring twice.

Cody Gakpo

Age: 21 Club: PSV Eindhoven Position: Winger

The Eindhoven born winger has been making a big name for himself with PSV Eindhoven, scoring 19 times and adding 18 assists in 80 appearances for the club. This season he has been one of the club’s star players, and was sorely missed after he got injured. Gakpo is powerful, direct, quick, and has the ability to play along the front line and even as an attacking midfielder. He offers Van de Looi plenty of options and has been a regular at this level recently, scoring four goals in nine caps.

Myron Boadu

Age: 20 Club: AZ Alkmaar Position: Striker

A very talented young striker, Boadu has 35 goals and 18 assists in 81 games for AZ Alkmaar, and he has already made his Netherlands debut. He scored in the win over Estonia during qualifying for Euro 2020. However, he will lead the line for Netherlands at the U21 European Championships and he has an excellent scoring record at this level, netting six times in six matches. Pacey and a deadly finisher, Boadu could be the man to fire Netherlands to the knockout stages later this month. He is certainly one of the most exciting strikers at the tournament.

Brian Brobbey

Age: 19 Club: Ajax Position: Striker

Brobbey has been hitting the headlines in recent weeks with the striker opting to leave Ajax to join RB Leipzig next summer. The powerful striker broke into the Ajax first-team this season and has scored four times, but has opted instead for a future in Germany. First, he will head to the Euros with the U21’s and he will be a useful weapon for Van de Looi due to his strength, pace and finishing ability. He has already won the U19 European Championships with Netherlands twice and now he is going for the U21 crown. He has not yet made his debut at this level, the only player in the squad that is set for his debut.




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