Netherlands U17’s will take a hugely talented squad to this months European Championships in Bulgaria. Michael Bell profiles each member of the Dutch squad that will be hoping to lift the trophy.

netherlands u17Last summer Netherlands U17’s finished second in the European Championships after a penalty defeat to England. The squad in 2014 consisted of players such as Abdelhak Nouri, Bilal Ould-Chikh, Steven Bergwijn, and Jari Schuurman, who will all have big futures at their clubs and the Dutch national team. Similarly this years squad is packed full of talent, who are all worth keeping an eye on.

Justin Bijlow: Feyenoord-Goalkeeper

The 17-year-old has been the first choice for coach Maarten Stekelenburg during the qualifying campaign, and is likely to start between the sticks when the tournament begins next week against Republic of Ireland. Bijlow is highly regarded in Rotterdam, and recently signed his first professional contract with Feyenoord, binding him to the club until 2018.

nijhuisThijmen Nijhuis: Utrecht-Goalkeeper

The 16-year-old made his debut for the U17’s during the qualifier against Belgium in March after Bijlow succumb to injury. The Utrecht youngster performed well against the superior Belgium side, as Netherlands held on to a 0-0 draw which helped them seal qualification. The goalkeeper also kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 friendly win over Switzerland last month, but will likely be back-up to Bijlow in Bulgaria.

mensah akanajTimothy Fosu-Mensah: Manchester United-Centre Back

The captain of the U17’s, Fosu-Mensah is a hugely talented centre back who is also capable of playing at wingback or even in defensive midfield. After impressing in the youth teams of Ajax, Manchester United swooped to sign the 17-year-old last summer, and the youngster has been a regular for the Red Devils U18 side. Tall, quick, and swift in the tackle, Fosu-Mensah has the ability to become one of Netherlands best defenders in a few years.

Rick van Drongelen: Sparta Rotterdam-Centre/Left back

Van Drongelen is a physically commanding centre back, who can also play on the left hand side of defence. The 16-year-old has captained the Sparta Rotterdam U17’s this season, and earned six caps for the Netherlands U17’s. Van Drongelen as recently signed his first professional contract in Rotterdam.

Sherel Floranus: Sparta Rotterdam- Right back

The 16-year-old right back signed his professional contract with Sparta Rotterdam on the same day as Van Drongelen, and is also a regular player in the Oranje U17’s, earning nine caps, and scoring once. Floranus is a quick wing-back, who is comfortable on the ball and has good crossing abilities.

knoester gMats Knoester: Feyenoord- Centre back

A hugely talented centre back, who at the age of sixteen is already attracting interest from the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool. However Feyenoord are determined to keep hold of the young talent, who is set to sign his first professional deal in Rotterdam. Physically powerful and left footed, Knoester is also an impressive leader at the back and has held the captains armband at times in the Netherlands U17 side. Has earned six Oranje caps so far.

Matthijs de Ligt: Ajax-Centre Back

The youngest member of the squad at 15-years-old, but De Ligt is already making a big name for himself at Ajax, and was recently named player of the tournament in the prestigious Futures Cup, following in the footsteps of Abdelhak Nouri and Davy Klaassen. The centre half is tall and powerful on the ball, earning himself comparison’s with ex-Ajax star Jan Vertonghen.

Giovanni Troupee: Utrecht-Right Back

The 17-year-old has been a star for the Utrecht U19’s this season, and will battle Floranus for the right back slot. The energetic defender has five caps so far for the Netherlands U17’s.

eiting ajaCarel Eiting: Ajax-Midfielder

The 17-year-old was one of the star players during the qualifying campaign, and has been superb for Ajax’s U17 and U19 sides this season. Eiting made a good impression alongside the likes of Abdelhak Nouri and Donny van de Beek in the UEFA Youth league this season, and was rewarded with his first professional contract last week. Superb on the ball, with a great passing range, and an eye for goal, Eiting will be one of the main players to watch during the tournament in Bulgaria.

Teun Bijleveld: AZ-Midfielder

One of the outstanding talents in the AZ Alkmaar academy, Bijleveld has already been tied down to a contract until 2017. The 16-year-old has been an ever present in the Netherlands U17 side, and will line up alongside Eiting in the centre of midfield in Bulgaria. Bijleveld will be one of the main creators in the centre of the pitch, and has a great eye for an assist.

Reda Boultam: Ajax- Midfielder

The tough tackling midfielder was another star for Ajax during the recent Future’s Cup, and the 17-year-old will act as a screen in front of the defence for the Netherlands in Bulgaria. Boultam, who was signed by Ajax from Almere City, has six caps for the Oranje U17’s

Dani de Wit: Ajax-Midfielder

A versatile midfielder, who has starred for Ajax’s U17 side this season, De Wit can play either in the middle of midfield, as a winger, or even up front. The 17-year-old has three caps for Netherlands U17 so far, and scored the winner against Switzerland in a recent friendly. Pacy, and full of tricks, De Wit can be a big threat for Netherlands going forward.

peeters realMink Peeters: Real Madrid-Attacking midfield

The Nijmegen born youngster swapped the PSV academy for Ajax 2011, but last summer was poached from Amsterdam by Spanish giants Real Madrid. Peeters time in Madrid has been hampered by an injury, but he has returned in time to be included in the Netherlands squad. The 17-year-old is a lively attacking midfielder who has pace, unbelievable skills and an eye for goal. One of the most talented Dutchman of his generation, and will be key in Bulgaria.

dilrosun ajanajbddJavairo Dilrosun: Manchester City-winger

An exciting and pacey winger, Dilrosun swapped Ajax for Manchester City last summer after helping the Amsterdam clubs U17’s win their league title. For Netherlands U17’s Dilrosun is a constant threat and is the top scorer in the squad with five goals in eleven matches. Dilrosun and Fernandes pace on the wings will be crucial for Netherlands if they are to go far.

Rashaan Fernandes: Feyenoord- Winger

The 16-year-old has earned rave reviews in the Feyenoord academy and has become a key member of the Netherlands U17 attack with his trickery and pace. Fernandes committed his future to Feyenoord last July to end talk of the winger leaving to the Premier League, with Manchester City, and Chelsea sending scouts to watch him. In 12 caps for the Oranje U17’s Fernandes has scored three goals.

Jay-Roy Grot: N.E.C/Oss-Winger

The 17-year-old star of the NEC U19 side has become a regular member of the Netherlands U17 squad after netting in his debut, which was the 7-0 hammering of England in February, and went on to net the winner against Portugal in the Algarve tournament. A calm finisher with pace, Grot will be a good alternative to Fernandes or Dilrosun.

malen aja xjdjDonyell Malen: Ajax-striker

Malen has had a prolific season for Ajax U17’s, netting fourteen goals and impressing during the Futures Cup. His good form has led to interest from Arsenal, as Malen draws comparisons to Thierry Henry. Malen has unbelievable talent, with his quick feet and pace he is a handful for defences, but he is yet to score for the Netherlands U17’s. The 16-year-old will hope to end his barren run in Bulgaria.

Nigel Robertha: Feyenoord-striker

Robertha has been a regular starter for Netherlands U17’s up front, scoring only once in eleven internationals, but the striker’s link up play with Fernandes and Dilrosun has been fantastic. The striker is prolific for the Feyenoord u17 team, scoring thirteen goals this season, but despite his good form, the Rotterdam club are yet to tie him down to a long term deal.




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