Going Dutch – does the Premier League have the best?

Marc Overmars


Another member of Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winning squad, Overmars came to England in 1997. Arsene Wenger paid £5.5m for him and Overmars proved an instant success. He scored 16 goals for Arsenal in his first season, despite playing as a left winger.

His most important goals came in the FA Cup final, where he opened the scoring in a 2-0 victory over Newcastle, and more famously in a 1-0 victory over title rivals Man Utd at Old Trafford. That game was crucial in the title run in as Arsenal had games in hand on United and that victory put them in the driving seat for the title.

Overmars spent three years at Highbury before becoming the most expensive Dutch player ever at the time when Barcelona paid £25m for him. Surprisingly, Overmars couldn’t add to his medal collection in a four year stay at the Nou Camp. But for his contribution to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger’s first trophy in England, Overmars has to be classed as a great.
Verdict: Best in the World

Arjen Robben

Copyright rayand and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2

Arjen Robben was one of the fastest and trickiest wingers ever to play in the Premier League He joined Chelsea at the start of Roman Abramovich’s era when Jose Mourinho was given a bottomless pit of money to spend to build a winning team. Robben cost £12m from PSV Eindhoven and soon started repaying that fee.

In his first season in England, Chelsea won the Premier League title for the first time. They successfully defended the title the following season and added an FA Cup a year later. In his three years at Chelsea, Robben also picked up two League Cup winner’s medals and was one of the stars of the team. His stay at Chelsea was almost identical to that of Jose Mourinho, as both joined the club in the summer of 2004 with Robben leaving just a few months before the Portuguese manager.

Robben played for Real Madrid for two years before joining another of Europe’s giants in Bayern Munich. Unfortunately for Robben, despite playing for the biggest clubs in the world, he has never tasted the same level of success as he did at Chelsea.

Since leaving Stamford Bridge he has lost two Champions League finals, in one of which he missed a penalty against Chelsea, and a World Cup final. However, he was definitely one of the players that helped Chelsea move forward as one of the big clubs in European football.
Verdict: Best in the World

Dennis Bergkamp

Copyright Paul & Aline Burland and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2

The most graceful and technically gifted player ever to play in England. After starring for Ajax in his early career, Bergkamp was snapped up by Inter Milan. However he couldn’t settle at the San Siro due to never playing in a settled forward partnership and a constant changing of manager.

In 1995, Bruce Rioch signed Bergkamp for Arsenal for £7.5m and after Arsene Wenger arrived a year later, Arsenal changed as a club forever. Wenger had incredibly inherited his perfect player with all the qualities he wanted in a footballer. Class, calm, speed of thought and creativity, Bergkamp had all these in abundance.

Wenger promptly started to build his team around Bergkamp, bringing in Vieira and Petit to get the ball to him, and Overmars and Anelka to make the runs for him to find. It proved an instant success and Arsenal won the league and cup double in 1998. Bergkamp stayed at Arsenal for eleven years and was the creativity behind the pace and finishing of Thierry Henry.
Verdict: Best in the World

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Copyright Twyford and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2
van Nistelrooy

Alex Ferguson showed his belief in Ruud Van Nistelrooy when he was prepared to wait a year to sign him after he damaged his cruciate ligaments just before a deal was to be done in 2000. Van Nistelrooy did get to Old Trafford the following summer and immediately set about punishing teams for any poor defending.

With flair players behind him to set up chances, Van Nistelrooy was in his element needing just a sniff of goal to find the target. At United he scored an astonishing 95 Premier League goals in 150 appearances over five years.

Surprisingly, Van Nistelrooy only won one Golden Boot in that period and one league title, as United were in the shadow of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ and Chelsea’s new team from Abramovich’s millions.

Van Nistelrooy went on to score freely at Real Madrid and add Spain to the list of countries he had won a league title in, before ending his career with brief spells at Hamburg and then Malaga.
Verdict: Best in the World