I mean…. The answer is a resounding yes.
Only two players moved from the Dutch league to the Premier League this summer.
The Eredivisie has been a source of talent in the past. The most prolific Eredivisie strikers have made far less impact in England in recent times.
The trip gave us a chance to learn more about the systems Dutch clubs use to bring through youth players. Some struggle, some thrive; but no youth teams can be promoted into the league where their first team plays. Hence, when Jong Ajax won the second tier in the season becoming the first reserve team to do so they were not promoted to the Eredivisie but stayed in the Eerste Divisie and tried to defend their crown the following campaign.
The youth squads are very similar to Premier League 2 sides. Players are supposed to be Under and homegrown but, in reality, most are teenagers and there is the odd foreign player too.
Marc Overmars and Winston Bogarde are in charge of the Jong Ajax players, all of whom are 20 or younger asides from a year-old goalkeeper.
The same goes for Jong Utrecht, who have three overseas players: a German, a Romanian and a Belorussian. In a league where most clubs bring in crowds between 3, and 8,, Jong PSV drew an average gate of just last season. Ajax averaged , Jong AZ had and Utrecht a mere Dress it up all you like, but no one wants to watch the kids — especially against men.
The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. The jong system operates throughout Dutch professional football, which changes hugely after the top two divisions.
Jong Sparta Rotterdam and Jong FC Voldendam stand out in the semi-professional third tier — Tweede Divisie — in which every other club is just that: a club. All inclusive, wide-ranging, a community hub. Some clubs have more than 2, registered players. Unlike in the UK, most Dutch clubs only contract their most talented youngsters.
NAC Breda , who were relegated from the Eredivisie last season, have just seven paid players in their Unders. Given they have around 40 players split between their Unders and Unders, competition for contracts is fierce.
Having enjoyed the hospitality in the Netherlands, we moved across the German border, where Ipswich Unders were well beaten by the Bayer 04 Unders the last Bayer team before their Bundesliga squad.
A few years ago, Bayer decided to fold their reserve team, which was playing in the fourth division, believing that the standard was too low and the gap to their Champions League-chasing first team was too big.
Not everyone in the academy agreed, but now they send their best young players on loan instead. Again, only the very best Unders are awarded professional contracts.
The danger of releasing almost all of your players at 19 means some will come back to haunt you. Bayer let midfielder Kevin Kampl leave on a free before he had even made a first-team appearance. Quality not quantity appears to be their unwritten motto.
No idea what that is? Commitments elsewhere meant they were given dispensation to kick off early. Chelsea reserves, now under Andy Myers, won at Swindon with two early goals from Tino Anjorin, an year-old from Poole. Remember me? Life is not too bright at Newcastle United.
His young teammates must have gained plenty from playing alongside someone with 93 international caps.