Going Dutch – does the Premier League have the best?

Robin van Persie

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van Persie

Van Persie started his career for his hometown club Feyenoord where he won the UEFA Cup in 2002. The club wanted to secure him on a long term contract but Van Persie had an uneasy relationship with the manager and wanted to leave.

He signed for Arsenal in 2004 but a lack of first team opportunities and a series of long term injuries meant it wasn’t really until the departures of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp that he became the main focus of the attack. With all the senior players from when he arrived at the club now departed, Van Persie became the star of the team. After Cesc Fabregas and then Sami Nasri left, the Dutchman was Arsenal’s only real world class player.

He was virtually unplayable for the 2011/12 season where he captained the side to third place in the league. It was a massive achievement for the club to finish third after they started the season in abysmal form with the low point being a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Man Utd.

Van Persie carried the team and after safely securing Champions League football for the club almost single handedly, only the most hardcore Arsenal fans begrudged him a move to a club capable of challenging for the big trophies. He joined Man Utd in the summer of 2012 ahead of Barcelona and Man City and scored after one minute in a 2-1 win over Arsenal in his first match against his former club.
Verdict: Best in the World

Summary

It seems that the best Dutch players don’t actually come to play in the Premier League. Of the above eleven, although all are top players, only Edwin van der Saar, Dennis Bergkamp, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie spent a significant period of their peak years playing in England.

Gullit, Reiziger and Davids arrived when they had passed their peak and came here for a big payday or a different football experience.

Robben, Overmars and Stam were in their prime whilst in England but received a more attractive offer. They chose Germany, Spain and Italy to play out the best football of their careers.

And of course there are many world class Dutch players that have chosen to never come to play in the Premier League. Frank and Ronald De Boer, Clarence Seedorf, Klaas- Jan Huntelaar, Wesley Schneider and Mark van Bommel are some of the most capped Dutch players of all time. They have won league titles and Champions Leagues.

But they chose to do it in Europe as opposed to England. Why? It is because despite the BBC and Sky Sports constantly telling us we have the best league in the world, we don’t. Or at least not in the opinion of the Holland’s top players.

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