For the second year in a row Netherlands U17’s are European Champions. Michael Bell profiles the star players of the Oranje squad that triumphed in the Republic of Ireland

For the second year in a row, Netherlands are U17’s are European Championship winners after beating Italy 4-2 in the final. Only one player played in both tournaments (Brian Brobbey) meaning its a new batch of Oranje stars that starred in Dublin on Sunday night.

Below are just nine of the young Dutch talents that you should be keeping a keen eye on.

Ki-Jana Hoever

The young defender made headlines this season by making his debut for the Liverpool first team at the age of 16 and he was one of Netherlands star men at the tournament.

The now 17-year-old looked a class act on the right-hand side of defence in his five appearances and chipped in with an excellent solo goal during the 3-0 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals.

Hoever may have excelled at right-back during the tournament but his future could lie in the centre of defence. He loves to carry the ball out from the back and has a great eye for a pass. To become a top defender he will need to work on his physical attributes.

Melayro Bogarde

The centre-back caused a transfer scramble when he announced his decision to leave Feyenoord in the summer. After being linked with several top English clubs, Bogarde eventually chose Germany and Hoffenheim.

The 16-year-old looked comfortable in the centre of Netherlands defence at the European Championships and showcased just why the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City were so keen in the summer.

Strong in the air, quick and physical, Bogarde has all the attributes to become a top player, just like his uncle Winston. At the moment, he is part of Hoffenheim’s U19 squad but it won’t be too long before he is knocking on the door of the first-team.

Ian Maatsen

A versatile midfielder, Maatsen showed just why he is so highly rated at Chelsea with his performances at the European Championships.

A left-back at club level, Maatsen played on the right-hand side of midfield for Netherlands and caught the eye with his excellent left-foot. Maatsen’s passing ability is great but he also has an eye for goal which he showcased in the final with a long-range strike into the top corner.

The former Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven youngster has trained with the Chelsea first-team on several occasions this season and has even earned the nickname ‘Mini-Marcelo’ from head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Maatsen’s star is rising and he is definitely one player to keep a keen eye on for club and country.

Kenneth Taylor

Netherlands captain at the tournament, Taylor caught the eye with some classy performances in midfield.

The 17-year-old is one of the most highly-rated players in the Ajax academy and he excelled for Netherlands at the Euros.

Taylor is a versatile midfielder, who can sit in front of the defence or move into a more advanced position. For Netherlands he acted as a controller, who looked to get on the ball as much as possible and calmly kept possession moving forward. For Ajax, he likes to get around the box and contributed nine goals and ten assists for the U19’s this season.

Ajax have made sure to tie Taylor down to a long-term contract and he made his professional debut for Jong Ajax this season. With Frenkie de Jong leaving it cannot be ruled out that Taylor makes his first-team debut in Amsterdam within the next 12 months.

Mohamed Taabouni

A gem from the AZ Alkmaar academy, Taabouni is a uber-talented attacking midfielder, who played a crucial role for Netherlands.

Taabouni operated the number ten role perfectly for Netherlands during the tournament. He found space constantly, created chance after chance for his side and popped up with the winning goal in the semi-final against Spain.

The 17-year-old has already made ten appearances for Jong AZ Alkmaar in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie and a first-team debut can’t be far away.

Taabouni has Moroccan roots so could decide to change his allegiance in the future, but hopefully Netherlands can keep him in Oranje.

Naci Ünüvar

The hype surrounding Naci Ünüvar at the moment is huge and the 15-year-old showed why for Netherlands.

Ünüvar is the absolute gem of Ajax’s academy at the moment and is constantly shining for the club’s U17 and U19 sides despite his age. Technically excellent on the ball, the attacking midfielder can thread a pass through the eye of a needle and has an eye for goal.

He became the youngest ever scorer in a U17 Euro final when he came off the bench to seal the 4-2 victory over Italy with a lovely solo goal.

Ajax’s fans can’t wait to see Ünüvar make his debut in the Johan Cruijff ArenA but they may need to be patient. A debut for Jong Ajax could definitely be on the cards next season, though.

Sontje Hansen

The tricky forward was joint top scorer for Netherlands and got named in the UEFA team of the tournament.

Hansen starred on the left wing in Ireland with his pace, dribbling ability and calmness in front of goal, key assets for Netherlands. With three goals, he was joint top scorer for Oranje while he also contributed one assist.

The 17-year-old has made a big impression for Ajax’s U19’s this season, scoring ten goals and adding nine assists in 25 appearances.

He is yet to make his professional debut, but has been tied down to a contract until 2021.

Brian Brobbey

Part of the Netherlands squad that won the tournament last year, Brobbey made it two in a row and enhanced his growing reputation in Ireland.

The physical centre-forward has caught the eye for Ajax this season with 32 goals in 33 games for the U19’s. He turned up at the Euros in red hot form and he didn’t disappoint with three goals in the tournament, which made him joint top scorer alongside Hansen and Bannis.

Brobbey’s strength and electric pace make him difficult to deal with at this age group and his goal-scoring record for club and country is more than impressive. Plenty of clubs around Europe are showing interest in the 17-year-old but he is determined to become first choice striker in Amsterdam.

Brobbey has made two appearances for Jong Ajax already and will be aiming to be a regular next season. Playing with adults will only improve the striker, who still has plenty of work to do on technical aspects of his game such as his first touch.

Naoufal Bannis

Highly rated at Feyenoord, the versatile striker made a big impression for Netherlands.

The 17-year-old was key in qualifying for the tournament with his goals and he remained in good form at the tournament. He was joint top scorer with three goals, including one in the final.

The tournament caps a positive season for the forward, who was close to making his first-team debut for Feyenoord before the end of the campaign. He was on the bench for the last few league matches, but did not come on. However, he did score ten goals in fourteen games for the U19’s.

Bannis is a pacey striker with plenty of tricks and a cool finish. He can also be deployed on the wing but is at his most dangerous going through the middle.

With Robin van Persie retiring, Nicolai Jorgensen leaving and Dylan Vente yet to make a big impression, Bannis could be the next superstar striker at De Kuip.




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