The Europa League group stages begin this week with a number of young Dutch stars set to be involved. Michael Bell picks ten of the brightest talents you need to keep an eye on during the competition.

Cody Gakpo

Born and raised in Eindhoven, Cody Gakpo is now a regular for his club, PSV, and is growing his reputation as one of Netherlands brightest talents.

The 20-year-old made his first-team debut during the 2017/18 season and has since made 32 appearances, contributing nine assists and four goals.

This season the forward is aiming to become an important part of Mark van Bommel’s side and in 12 appearances in all competitions (4 starts) he has two goals and two assists.

Gakpo is a tall, quick and direct winger, who can also play as a number ten if needed. He possesses great dribbling ability and a fierce right foot.

Currently a Netherlands U21 international, Gakpo has ambition to reach Oranje but must first oust Bruma, Bergwijn and Ihattaren to become a permanent part of PSV’s first team XI.

Myron Boadu

After battling back from a serious ankle injury, Myron Boadu has started the season on fire for AZ Alkmaar.

The 18-year-old was set to be the first-choice striker for AZ last season but a serious injury ended his season after only a handful of matches. However, the forward has battled back and is proving that he is one of Netherlands most exciting talents.

In eleven games in all competitions so far, Boadu has scored five goals and contributed seven assists.

Blessed with pace, composure and excellent vision, Boadu is a sensational talent and there are already calls for him to be called into the Netherlands squad.

His partnership with Calvin Stengs and Oussama Idrissi up top for AZ is deadly and Boadu could be one of the breakthrough star of the Europa League.

Wouter Burger

A gem of the Feyenoord academy, Wouter Burger is now firmly part of the Rotterdam club’s first team and has made a big impact under Jaap Stam.

A tall and strong midfielder, Burger has been a star for Netherlands youth sides over the years and was part of the U17 side that won the European Championships last year.

Burger made his first-team debut last season but was officially promoted to Stam’s squad this summer. He has made seven appearances so far in this campaign and scored a brilliant goal in the 3-0 victory over Hapoel Beer Sheva in the Europa League qualifiers.

The 18-year-old can be deployed as either a defensive midfielder or a controller. He is a fine tackler, but is also excellent in possession of the ball and has great vision.

Feyenoord’s squad is thin in some positions and Burger will definitely get the chance to showcase his supreme talent in the Europa League this season.

Justin Kluivert

Justin Kluivert has good memories of the Europa League after reaching the final with Ajax two years ago and now he heads into the competition again with Roma.

The winger had an indifferent first campaign in Italy but he has started all their matches so far this season and scored his first goal at the weekend in the win over Sassuolo.

The 20-year-old recently earned a recall in the Netherlands squad and will be hoping to stay there. To do so he needs to be consistent and contribute more assists and goals.

Kluivert has worked hard over the summer to build his physique and he is still blessed with rapid pace and good dribbling ability.

The former Ajax talent has been criticised since joining Roma but this could be a huge season for the youngster and the Europa League offers him a platform to prove himself.

Calvin Stengs

One of the Eredivisie’s biggest talent’s, Calvin Stengs could take the Europa League by storm this season for AZ Alkmaar.

The winger made his breakthrough at the end of the 2016/17 season but a horrific injury kept him out for almost a year. He returned with a bang last season and has started this campaign in supreme form with six assists and three goals, including the important last minute equaliser against Antwerp in the Europa League qualifiers.

The tall right-winger is skilful and quick but the most impressive part of his game is his passing ability and vision. Stengs can thread a pass through the eye of a needle. The 20-year-old also drew comparisons during his breakthrough season with Arjen Robben due to his fondness for cutting inside from the right and shooting on sight.

Stengs is on his way to the top and it’s only a matter of time before he is being linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The Europa League may put him in the window.

Tahith Chong

The highly rated winger has been on the verge of making his big breakthrough at Manchester United and this could finally be his year.

Chong swapped Feyenoord for Manchester United back in 2016 and has made a number of eye catching performances in their youth sides. However, he is still waiting to become a permanent member of the first-team despite making a handful of appearances.

The 19-year-old turned down loan moves back to the Eredivisie this summer to wait for his chance and he could get it in the Europa League if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decides to rotate his squad to keep focus on the Premier League.

A winger with bags of pace and trickery, Chong could be a standout for United in the competition and it could pave the way for him getting more chances in the Premier League.

Mohamed Ihattaren

One of the biggest talents of his generation, Ihattaren is already a regular for PSV Eindhoven at the age of 17.

The attacking midfielder has been a gem of the PSV academy for years and a star for Netherlands youth teams. Mark van Bommel promoted the youngster to the first-team last season and he has been a standout since.

Ihattaren’s passing ability and vision are exceptional while he can dribble past opponents with ease. The youngster is also a dead ball specialist and can score with either foot, making him so hard for defences to deal with. His game has drawn some comparisons with Wesley Sneijder.

In seven appearances so far in all competitions this season, Ihattaren has contributed three goals and three assists, which has led to much speculation about his international future. Morocco are trying to convince the youngster to choose them over the Netherlands, while Ronald Koeman is being urged to call Ihattaren up as many believe he is good enough to make an impact now.

Ihattaren is a joy to watch and is undoubtedly going to be a future superstar. His first European campaign should be a delight!

Teun Koopmeiners

The man who makes AZ Alkmaar tick, Teun Koopmeiners is having an excellent season so far and will be aiming to captain his side to the Europa League knockout stage.

The 21-year-old has been a regular for AZ since making his debut back in 2017 and he has grown into an excellent player. Last season he was used as a centre-back but so far he is back in midfielder for this campaign and he is making a big impact.

A defensive midfielder, Koopmeiners is adept at picking off opponents before getting his side moving up the pitch. He anticipates the play so well and can spread passes around the pitch with ease.

Koopmeiners also possesses a drill of a right foot and is dedicated penalty taker for AZ.

The controller, who is similar to a young Kevin Strootman, is captain of Netherlands U21’s and is being touted for a full international call-up. Those calls will only get stronger if he shines in the Europa League.

Donyell Malen

The man of the moment, Donyell Malen is having a huge impact up front for PSV Eindhoven this season.

The youngster joined Arsenal from Ajax’s academy and impressed in England but returned to the Netherlands with PSV in 2017 to fast-track his route into first-team football.

The move has been a major success and now Malen is PSV Eindhoven’s first choice striker and a Netherlands international, who scored on his debut against Germany. For PSV, Malen has nine goals in 12 appearances, with five of those coming in the sensational 5-0 win over Vitesse. He has also contributed four assists.

Malen is a creative modern striker, who uses his dribbling ability and pace to run at and get behind defences. The 20-year-old is also very strong on the ball and can bustle his way into the box using shear strength. Malen is also a clinical finisher and has shown ability to score goals with his head.

The world is now watching Malen after his exploits so far this season and he is a player on everyone’s lips in Eindhoven. A strong performance in the Europa League could fast-track a move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Bobby Adekanye

Bobby Adekanye swapped the Liverpool academy for Lazio this summer and he will be hoping to make an impact in Italy this season.

The former PSV, Ajax, and Barcelona youth star was a regular for Liverpool’s U23 side last season but got tired of waiting for a first-team chance and decided to leave for Lazio.

In Italy, the pacey and tricky winger is hoping to make his big breakthrough and that could happen if the club alternate their side in the Europa League. He is currently recovering from a back issue but is set to be part of the club’s first-team squad.

Adekanye is a Netherlands U20 international but can also represent Nigeria.




Michael Bell (54 Posts)