There are a number of exciting talents emerging in Dutch football at the moment. We at Football-Oranje have decided to profile and rank the top 30 Dutch teenage wonderkids that we think you should be keeping a close eye on.

  • Profiles by Michael Bell and Michael Statham
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  • Follow Michael Statham on Twitter @EredivisieMike
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30. Fedde de Jong

Age: 16 Club: AZ Alkmaar Position: Midfielder

After Frenkie, there is another De Jong, emerging in the AZ Alkmaar academy that is also being tipped to make a big impact on Dutch football.

The 16-year-old, Fedde de Jong, is a silky midfielder with excellent passing ability, vision and an eye for goal. Currently catching the eye for AZ’s U19 side, De Jong is also a regular in Netherlands U17s, who finished fourth at last year’s World Cup.

The youngster is still a relatively unknown talent in Dutch football, but his stardom will rise over the next year with more standout performances for Netherlands U17s, and an inevitable debut with Jong AZ in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie.

29. Micky van de Ven

Age: 18 Club: Volendam Position: Centre-back

The Keuken Kampioen Divisie can be a hotbed for young talent making their breakthrough and this season has seen the emergence of Volendam centre-back Micky van de Ven.

Head coach Wim Jonk saw potential in the youngster, who began the season in the club’s U19 side and he was quickly promoted into the first team. Van de Ven has gone from strength to strength and has made 20 appearances for the club who are chasing promotion.

Van de Ven’s performance have not gone unnoticed with AZ Alkmaar and Ajax both battling to sign the defender, who has excellent ball playing ability and a strong tackle, earning him comparisons to Matthijs de Ligt.

28. Jurrien Timber

Age: 18 Club: Ajax Position: Centre-back

A star of Ajax and Netherlands’ youth sides for years, after making the move to Amsterdam from Feyenoord along with his brother Quinten, Jurrien Timber is close to making his big breakthrough.

A ball-playing and tough-tackling centre-back, who can also play at full-back, Timber has been a constant part of Jong Ajax’s squad this season, but was handed his first-team debut by Erik ten Hag in the 3-1 win over Heerenveen in March.

Ajax are very excited about Timber’s ability and the Netherlands U19 international will be aiming to become a first-team regular over the next year.

27. Romano Postema

Age: 18 Club: Groningen Position: Striker

After registering unbelievable goal-scoring stats for Groningen’s youth sides, head coach Danny Buijs is no longer able to hold young striker Romano Postema back.

The pacey forward with a cool finish has broken into the Groningen first-team this season and is battling for a starting spot up front with Daishawn Redan. The youngster is yet to register his first goal for the first-team but his appearances have earned him plenty of plaudits and he will soon find the back of the net.

The Netherlands U18 striker, who was a member of the Oranje U17 squad that finished fourth at the recent World Cup, is the most exciting forward to emerge from the Euroborg since Richairo Zivkovic broke onto the scene as a 16-year-old.

26. Dirk Proper

Age: 18 Club: NEC Nijmegen Position: Midfielder

The Keueken Kampioen Divisie’s most wanted, Dirk Proper has turned down attention from the major Eredivisie clubs to make his breakthrough in Nijmegen.

Proper has been earning rave reviews in NEC’s academy for years, and was part of the Netherlands U17 side that won the European Championships last year, before finishing fourth at the World Cup.

A creative attacking midfielder, with excellent passing ability and dribbling skills, Proper was wanted by PSV Eindhoven, but turned them down and is now a regular in NEC’s first team.

Proper is taking a different road to most of Netherlands top talents but it won’t be long before he is starring in the Eredivisie.

25. Youri Regeer

Age: 16 Club: Ajax Position: Midfielder

The youngest member of the Netherlands U17 side that finished fourth at the World Cup, Youri Regeer is having a big impact for Ajax’s U19s in the UEFA Youth League.

Ajax poached the midfielder from ADO Den Haag’s academy in 2017 and he has since developed into one of the biggest talents at De Toekomst. A creative midfielder, with great vision and technical ability for his age, Regeer also has an eye for goal and has scored five goals in UEFA Youth League games this season.

Regeer has impressed so much this season that he has already been handed his professional debut with Jong Ajax, making three appearances overall. Despite his tender age, it won’t be long before Ajax hand Regeer his first-team debut.

24. Xavier Mbuyamba

Age: 18 Club: Barcelona Position: Centre-back

Mbuyamba broke into MVV Maastricht’s first-team last season and his performances impressed so much that it started a transfer battle between some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Chelsea were front runners but their transfer ban led to Mbuyamba heading to Barcelona in the summer. Head of youth development Patrick Kluivert pushed for his signing after being impressed by the youngster’s strength and ability on the ball.

Mbuyamba is now playing for Barcelona’s U19 side and will be promoted to the B team next season. He is aiming to make his first-team debut, though, and has already been training with the club’s big names.

Netherlands have no shortage of exciting young centre-backs, but Mbuyamba may be the pick of the bunch if he can make his breakthrough in Spain.

23. Immanuel Pherai

Age: 18 Club: Borussia Dortmund Position: Midfielder

AZ’s academy is producing talent after talent at the moment, but in 2017, Immanuel Pherai decided to depart the club for Borussia Dortmund.

The attacking midfielder is now creating buzz in the German side’s academy and a first-team debut is now only a matter of time.

The 18-year-old is the creative spark of Dortmund’s U19 side, with his exceptional dribbling ability and pin-point passing ability making him a joy to watch. In the UEFA Youth League, Pherai excelled for Dortmund and gave five assists in five games.

Dortmund are renowned for giving youth a chance and Pherai is being tipped to be the next talent to get a chance. The Netherlands U19 star could develop into an exceptional number ten.

22. Wouter Burger

Age: 19 Club: Feyenoord Position: Midfielder

Burger bust onto the scene with the Netherlands U17s when they won the Euros back in 2018. Since then, Burger has developed further with Feyenoord’s youth teams and, after a handful of appearances for the first-team, a short loan to Eerste Divisie side Excelsior has helped the defensive midfielder bridge the gap to senior football.

The lanky 19-year-old is known for his creativity from deep and willingness to release a long ball forward or a shot at goal from distance; he will be aiming to improve his defensive skills next. Burger is only likely to feature for the Feyenoord first team once he is guaranteed regular, first-team action.

21. Dillon Hoogewerf

Age 17 Club: Manchester United Position: Striker

A top prospect in the Ajax academy, Hoogewerf made the decision to join Manchester United in the summer and has been impressing in England since.

A striker, who can also play on the wings, Hoogewerf impressed at Ajax and the Netherlands U17s with his pace, dribbling and ability to score with both feet. Hoogewerf has since scored six times for Manchester United’s U18s including the winner in a crucial FA Youth Cup clash, while he has one goal in three appearances for the U23s.

Recently, Hoogewerf was rewarded for his form with his first professional contract and he is aiming to now follow in Robin van Persie, and Ruud van Nistelrooy’s footsteps to become a legendary Dutch striker at Old Trafford.

20. Naoufal Bannis

Age: 18 Club: Feyenoord Position: Striker

The Feyenoord academy is starting to produce exciting talents once again and in Naoufal Bannis, the club have a striker capable of excelling in the Eredivisie.

The speedy and slight striker has been prolific at all age groups for the club, scoring 20 times in 37 games for the U19s. At the start of this season, Jaap Stam was very impressed with the forward and he made a string of first-team appearances from the bench.

However, since Dick Advocaat’s arrival, Bannis is back with the U19s and he now has to wait again for a chance to impress in De Kuip. That chance will come, though, and the youngster has the ability to be one of the top strikers in the Eredivisie.

19. Jayden Braaf

Age 17 Club: Manchester City Position: Winger/Striker

Via Ajax and PSV Eindhoven’s academy, Jayden Braaf made the move to Manchester City in 2018, and the young forward is making big waves in England.

He may only be 17 but Braaf is already banging in the goals for Manchester City’s U23 side, with nine this season. He is also prolific for the Netherlands youth sides and was part of the U17 side that won the European Championships and then finished fourth at the World Cup.

A winger, who can also play through the middle, Braaf is exceptionally quick, with great technique, and a very cool finish in front of goal. He has all the attributes to be a future Oranje international and his first-team breakthrough in Manchester will not be too far away.

18. Ian Maatsen

Age: 18 Club: Chelsea Position: Left-back

Chelsea swooped to sign the versatile young defender from PSV Eindhoven’s academy back in 2018, and this season Maatsen made his first-team debut in the League cup.

The left-back, who can also play in the centre of defence, has earned rave reviews for Chelsea’s youth teams, and was a key member of Netherlands’ U17 side that won the European Championships.

Frank Lampard has been giving youth a chance at Chelsea since taking charge of the club and Maatsen could be promoted full-time to the first-team next season. The 18-year-old recently signed a new long-term contract in London until 2024 with an option of another year.

17. Lutsharel Geertruida

Age: 19 Club: Feyenoord Position: Full-back/Centre-back

The departure of Jeremiah St Juste and injury issues for Rick Karsdorp gave Lutsharel Geertruida the chance to break into Feyenoord’s first-team this season, and the youngster has not disappointed.

A centre-back for the club’s youth teams, Geertruida has been used as a full-back by Dick Advocaat and has barely put a foot wrong as the club went on an excellent unbeaten run.

Feyenoord are unlikely to sign Karsdorp on a permanent basis this summer but that shouldn’t matter with Geertruida proving that he is a more than capable replacement.

Tall, strong and a powerful tackler; if Geertruida can add more attacking ability to his game, then he could become an excellent full-back.

16. Brian Brobbey

Age: 18 Club: Ajax Position: Striker

A striker with unbelievable potential, Brobbey has been impressing in Ajax’s youth teams for years and is now on the brink of making his first-team debut.

A very powerful centre-forward with pace, and an explosive right-foot, Brobbey’s goalscoring record in youth football was incredible and the youngster is now proving himself in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie with Jong Ajax. In 13 games, Brobbey has seven goals and would have more if an injury hadn’t affected his campaign.

For Netherlands U17s, Brobbey scored 16 goals in 24 games, and was a part of the European Championship winning side. He would have featured at the World Cup, but he suffered an injury just before the tournament.

Brobbey is still switching between Jong Ajax and the U19s but a first-team debut next season cannot be ruled out.

15. Kenneth Taylor

Age: 17 Club: Ajax Position: Midfielder

Ajax have produced an abundance of talented midfielders in recent years, and the next one banging on the door of the first-team is Kenneth Taylor.

Capable of playing in a defensive role or further forward, Taylor is an exceptional ball carrying playmaker, who works extremely hard for his team.

Taylor captained Netherlands U17s to the European Championships last summer and had the armband again at the World Cup. He has also broken into Jong Ajax’s side this season, making 19 appearances, and producing three assists.

Taylor is a leader on the pitch and could make a big impact over the next year as he inevitably makes his deserved first-team debut.

14. Mohamed Taabouni

Age: 18 Club: AZ Alkmaar Position: Midfielder/Winger

A star for the Netherlands U17 side that won the European Championships, Mohamed Taabouni is awaiting his chance to break into the AZ Alkmaar first-team.

A creative attacking midfielder with exceptional technique, Taabouni can also be deployed on the wing where he uses his dribbling ability and vision to devastating effect.

A regular for Jong AZ this season, the 18-year-old was finally handed his first-team debut in the KNVB Cup against amateur side Groene Star. He will now be looking for more opportunities next season.

After Myron Boadu, Calvin Stengs and Teun Koopmeiners, Taabouni could be the next academy product of AZ to make a major impact in the Eredivisie.

13. Jeremie Frimpong

Age: 19 Club: Celtic Position: Right-back

Jeremie Frimpong was a rather unknown prospect when he made the move to Celtic from Manchester City’s academy in the summer, but the right-back has been a revelation in Scotland.

A powerful and lightning quick full-back, Frimpong has become a fan favourite at Celtic due to his work rate and eagerness to get forward at every opportunity. In 14 league games, the Netherlands U20 international has scored twice and contributed three assists for the Scottish Premier League leaders.

With right-back a problem position for Netherlands at the moment, Frimpong is among a number of prospects with huge potential that could be on Ronald Koeman’s radar.

12. Kenzo Goudmijn

Age: 18 Club: AZ Alkmaar Position: Midfielder

It is highly likely that Goudmijn will become the latest AZ youth talent to make the jump to the first team. The 18-year-old has made over 60 appearances for Jong AZ in the Dutch second tier and has been making minutes for the senior side too.

Goudmijn is a box-to-box midfielder; at the moment he neither excels in the creation of goals nor the prevention of them. However, he is agile, carries the ball very well to beat opponents and suits AZ’s passing style of play perfectly. It’s clear then that Goudmijn’s next step should be how he can be defensively more robust and be more directly involved around the opposition penalty area.

11. Daishawn Redan

Age: 19 Club: Hertha Berlin Position: Striker

Redan was prolific for Ajax, Chelsea and the Netherlands at youth level. With first-team action seemingly still years away though in England, the striker decided to make the switch to Germany. At Hertha, Redan hasn’t found it any easier to make the breakthrough and, despite scoring four times in eight games for the second team, was sent on loan to Groningen.

Redan has only been able to make five Eredivisie appearances so far, but has cut a frustrated figure up front for Danny Buijs’s defensive outfit. Redan must learn how he can better his link-up play with midfielders. Up until now, the Dutch striker has thrived off his poacher instinct in the box and his ability to run in behind defences.

10. Xavi Simons

Age: 16 Club: PSG Position: Midfielder

Named after a club legend and gaining plenty of hype in their academy, it seemed Xavi Simons had an excellent future at Barcelona. The midfielder was a captain at various age groups, and spoke of his dreams to play with Lionel Messi. Everything seemed perfect in Catalonia.

However, in the summer Mino Raiola orchestrated a shock move to PSG, who have a plan to fast-track the talent into their first-team. Simons is currently with the club’s U19 side but will be hoping to make his first-team debut as soon as possible over the next few years.

A dynamic and technical midfielder, Simons has the talent to play in several roles in the centre of midfield. His passing, vision and dribbling ability are all top class and he can score goals too, which he has done regularly with Netherlands’ youth sides.

Simons has gained a huge following on social media and is a sponsors dream. However, Simons has the talent to back it up and become a top-class player.

9. Sontje Hansen

Age: 17 Club: Ajax Position: Striker

It has been an excellent season so far for Ajax forward Sontje Hansen, who not only made his first-team debut, but also finished as top scorer at the recent U17 World Cup.

The 17-year-old is quickly building his reputation as one of Netherlands brightest attacking talents, and has been linked with a move to Manchester City, Juventus and AC Milan.

Hansen has the ability to play on the wings but he is at his best through the middle where he can use his pace and dribbling ability to terrify defenders. He loves to run at defences head on and is an extremely cool finisher in front of goal.

His six goals at the U17 World Cup have put Hansen in the spotlight even more and if his development continues over the next year then he will quickly become unstoppable for the Ajax first-team.

8. Ludovit Reis

Age: 19 Club: Barcelona Position: Midfielder

After an excellent campaign for Groningen, Ludovit Reis could have moved to any of the traditional top three in the Netherlands, but it was Barcelona who swooped first to sign the young midfielder in the summer.

Reis is now regularly playing for Barcelona’s B team and gets to train with the first-team, where he can learn from the likes of Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.

The Netherlands U21 international is a defensive midfielder, who loves to break up the play and drive his team forward. He is a lovely dribbler on the ball and has an eye for goal from distance.

If he had remained in Netherlands, Reis would be a regular at any of the top clubs and could be pushing on a call-up for Oranje. However, he has chosen to prove himself at one of the best clubs in the world and hopefully his ability will eventually see him make his breakthrough at the Nou Camp.

7. Mitchel Bakker

Age: 19 Club: PSG Position: Left-back

A future Netherlands left-back for certain, Mitchel Bakker is turning heads already at star-studded PSG.

The 19-year-old has been an ever-present for Netherlands youth teams since a young age, and was set to have a great future at Ajax, having already made two first-team appearances. However, they couldn’t agree on a new deal and PSG swooped to take him to France in the summer. This season, Bakker has already made three appearances for the French giants, with two of those from the start.

A tall and powerful full-back, Bakker is defensively strong but also has the drive, and the blistering pace to get forward to contribute to the attack. Bakker has all the attributes to be a world-class full-back and he could break into the PSG first-team full-time next season.

6. Naci Unuvar

Age: 16 Club: Ajax Position: Midfielder/Winger

He may only be 16, but Naci Unuvar is being tipped for the absolute top, and has already made his first-team debut with Ajax.

Ajax always produces exciting young talents, but in Unuvar they have an absolute gem, who is capable of playing as a number ten or on the wing. His ability and technique on the ball is sensational, which has earned him comparisons to Hakim Ziyech, along with Abdelhak Nouri.

Unuvar is already a regular for Jong Ajax, racking up five assists in ten games, and he scored on his first-team debut in the KNVB Cup clash with Spakenburg. He was also a key member of the Netherlands U17 side that finished fourth in the recent World Cup.

Ajax fans are very excited about the development of their pint-sized attacker, who is dazzling crowds already with his dribbling and passing abilities. It won’t be long before he is tearing it up the Eredivisie.

5. Joshua Zirkzee

Age: 18 Club: Bayern Munich Position: Striker

Most players can only dream of having the impact that Joshua Zirkzee made on his first two Bundesliga appearances. Two games in a row, the young Dutch striker appeared to net decisive goals that led to wins for Bayern Munich.

The 18-year-old is now seen as a sensation in Munich and is living up to the promise he showed at Feyenoord, before making the move to Germany in the summer of 2017.

Tall, strong, two-footed and with plenty of pace, Zirkzee is a unique centre-forward in the modern game and is a clinical finisher in the box. He is a prolific scorer for Netherlands U19s and has three goals and an assist in his opening five Bundesliga games.

Zirkzee is a special talent and is already being pushed towards the Netherlands national team, who are missing a world-class centre-forward at the moment. If he continues his rapid development over the next year, then there is no reason why Zirkzee won’t be in Netherlands squad for Euro 2021.

4. Ki-Jana Hoever

Age: 18 Club: Liverpool Position: Right-back/centre-back

One of the most talented defenders in his generation, Ki-Jana Hoever has earned big praise from Jurgen Klopp since joining Liverpool from Ajax in 2018, and it is only a matter of time before the youngster breaks into the Premier League leaders first-team permanently.

Hoever was already seen as a major talent in Amsterdam, but since making the move to Anfield, the young right-back, who can also play in the centre of defence, has seen his reputation soar.

A star of the Netherlands U17 side that won the European Championships and then finished fourth at the World Cup, Hoever has only made four appearances for Liverpool so far, but Klopp has big plans for the 18-year-old.

Speaking after Hoever signed a new contract with the club, Klopp told the Liverpool website, “Ki-Jana is a wonderful kid and a sensational young player who can learn so much. He’s still 17, it’s just crazy. But everything will be fine, he’s a fantastic footballer and I’m really happy that we have him for longer.”

Hoever is a fantastic defender, who will only get better from training regularly with Virgil van Dijk and Trent-Alexander Arnold. He may have been held back a little this season, but Hoever has a bright future with Liverpool and the Dutch national team.

3. Ryan Gravenberch

Age: 17 Club: Ajax Position: Midfielder

Gravenberch is frightfully stepping up to the Ajax first team already. The Dutch midfielder rose to many people’s attentions when he played games for Ajax’s U17s at just 14 years of age. It seems as though this young man is destined to realise his potential.

Gravenberch’s air of arrogance is sure to split the crowd, but his ability is undeniably good for someone so young. Playing regular football for Jong Ajax last season saw the teenager build up vital match experience, where he really wasn’t out of place given his strength and height to bully more seasoned players in the Dutch second tier.

Gravenberch’s technical ability to bamboozle opponents is what sets him apart from other talents of his age. Playing the ‘Ajax way’ runs through his veins, with quick passing and little flicks a key part of how the 17-year-old moves to cogs of his team’s build-up play.

What can we expect from him next? Gravenberch will be eyeing up a first-team spot with Ajax next season after an impressive – yet far from perfect – 11 games in league and cup. He’s a technically-gifted midfielder who can score goals and quickly win the ball back for his side, but he also needs to be smarter on the ball when stepping up to Eredivisie action. Certainly one for the Dutch national team in the coming years too.

2. Myron Boadu

Age: 19 Club: AZ Alkmaar Position: Striker

He’s still a teenager but he’s banging in the goals for a top club in the Netherlands. Boadu has put two major career injuries behind him to go on to be one of the Eredivisie’s top goal-scorers this season and become a pivotal part of the way his side play.

Boadu is part of this current crop of excellent youth players to emerge from the AZ Alkmaar academy. He was quickly shifted to the first team following his impressive form at youth level for club and country.

This is Boadu’s first season playing regular games at senior level and it should be widely anticipated that he remains in Alkmaar for at least another year to progress further on a European level and into the Dutch national team. That doesn’t stop Barcelona’s recent interest though.

The 19-year-old’s best attributes are his athleticism and quick feet which make him a deadly finisher of chances. Boadu is still developing many parts of his play, but is useful in AZ’s build-up play and can also be a threat in the air. Boadu’s exceptional ball control and shooting mean opponents have to close him down quickly or face an accurate shot into the corner.

Boadu scored on his debut for the Dutch national team, and there’s surely a huge future ahead for him in the Netherlands side.

1. Mohammed Ihattaren

Age: 18 Club: PSV Eindhoven Position: Midfielder

A generational talent, Mohammed Ihattaren is dazzling for PSV Eindhoven’s first team this season and is already a part of Ronald Koeman’s plans for the Dutch national team, despite only having just turned 18.

Ihattaren had a massive reputation for in the PSV academy and was handed his first-team debut at the age of 16. He could not be held back from that point, and this season he has arguably been the club’s most important player, with nine assists and seven goals in 33 appearances.

A playmaker with exceptional talent and technique, Ihattaren is at his best when playing as a number ten, but can also be deployed on the wings. His confidence in his ability is striking for a player so young, and it is no wonder that all the top European clubs are circling to sign the midfielder.

Earlier this season, Ihattaren also put any speculation on his international future behind him to commit to the Dutch national team and he earned his first-call up to the Netherlands squad before the coronavirus saw the games postponed. It is only a matter of time before Ihattaren gets his chance, though, with Ronald Koeman naming the youngster as one of his options for the right wing.

Ihattaren is a joy to watch and is one of the most talented players of his generation. Over the next year, he will aim to not only continue his rapid development with PSV but also consolidate his place in Oranje’s squad. Next year, Ihattaren may be dazzling the world at Euro 2021.

That is our list for this year. Ihattaren is our biggest Dutch talent of the moment, but who is yours? Let us know in the comments if you think we have missed anyone out or if you would have picked someone else as number one.

Also check out our podcast on the top 30 list below. It is also available on Youtube and all major podcast providers.




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