Football Features

Hit or Miss? Every Eredivisie No.9 that has moved to the Premier League since 2000

By Muhammad Butt

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Published: 18:05, 8 December 2021

The Eredivisie has long been a breeding ground for brilliant goalscorers – they hammer them in Holland and then step into the competitive cauldron of Europe’s top five leagues.

As a result, Dutch strikers have proven to be some of the best in England over the last 20 years, but they’ve also been some of the worst.

For every Robin van Persie, there’s a Jurgen Locadia, for every Ruud van Nistelrooy, a Mateja Kezman. But exactly how have they fared?

We’ve decided to have a look at the best and worst Eredivisie No.9s to move to the Premier League since 2000, giving our verdict on their time in England.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

PSV to Manchester United

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 23 April, 2001

Games: 219

Goals: 150

Had to wait a year for his move after a horrific cruciate injury, but when he did arrive he proved well worth the wait. An absolutely ruthless goal machine who set a Champions League single-season scoring record (12 goals in 2002/03) that went unbeaten for almost a decade until Lionel Messi went supernova in 2012.

Van Nistelrooy’s ability to dominate the penalty box was unparalleled and he left England with a goal-per-game ratio of 0.68 in all competitions.

Verdict: HIT

Marcus Allback

Heerenveen To Aston Villa

Joined: 18 May, 2002

Games: 42

Goals: 7

The Swedish international moved to Aston Villa following impressive seasons in both the Swedish and Dutch leagues. However, he was never really given the chance to succeed at Villa Park, being used sparingly as a substitute.

His game time was largely restricted by the first-team partnership of Darius Vassell and Juan Pablo Angel. After only 35 appearances and six goals for the club, Allback left for German side Hansa Rostock at the end of his contract.

Verdict: MISS

Collins John

FC Twente to Fulham

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Games: 105

Goals: 22

Collins John was brought to Fulham by Chris Coleman in 2004 with one eye on the future. However, despite starting very few games in his debut season, the Liberian was the club’s top goal scorer in the following year and even made the shortlist for Goal of the Season award in 2005/06 for a sweet volley off his weaker foot.

That was to be as good as it got for John who began to see his place in the side become tenuous. After two years spent on loan at different clubs, the writing was on the wall for the striker who left for the Belgian league in 2009.

Verdict: MISS

Robin van Persie

Feyenoord to Arsenal

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 17 May, 2004

Games: 383

Goals: 190

He arrived a UEFA Cup winner, but it took him years to develop under Arsene Wenger’s tutelage. Whenever he made progress, injuries would constantly set him back. But his talent was undeniable and when he finally managed a full season of fitness in 2011/12, he responded with 37 goals in 48 games for Arsenal – but no trophies.

His desire to win silverware saw him swap the red of Arsenal for the red of Manchester United, where, led by Sir Alex Ferguson, he blasted United to the Premier League title in a sensational show of sporting skill. Via Turkish side Fenerbahçe, Van Persie eventually made his way back to Holland and to his old club Feyenoord where he retired in 2019.

Verdict: HIT

Mateja Kežman

PSV to Chelsea

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 13 July, 2004

Games: 41

Goals: 7

Kežman was even better than Van Nistelrooy in the Eredivisie, so hopes were high when he joined Chelsea shortly after Arjen Robben, reuniting the duo dubbed Batman and Robben. However, instead of seeing it as the “next step”, he, unfortunately, saw it as the climax of his career.

This lack of hunger and drive bled through into his performances and he was utterly underwhelming despite brief flashes of brilliance like his goal in the League Cup final. Ultimately, only lasted a season and never managed to recapture the talent he showed before.

Verdict: MISS

Salomon Kalou

Feyenoord to Chelsea

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 30 May, 2006

Games: 254

Goals: 60

The Ivorian joined the Blues in 2006 and was praised by then manager Jose Mourinho for his hard work and willingness to succeed in the Premier League. Played predominantly as a right-winger, Kalou enjoyed success under both Mourinho and his successors as he helped Chelsea to four FA Cups, a Premier League title and the Champions League.

Kalou was a key part of his side’s journey to the Champions League final in 2008, which they eventually lost to Manchester United on penalties – despite the attacker scoring from his spot kick. His influence on the club began to fade after that and he was being used more as a substitute until his time in London was up, though he start in the 2012 Champions League final success.

Verdict: HIT

Dirk Kuyt

Feyenoord to Liverpool

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 18 August, 2006

Games: 285

Goals: 71

Arriving on Merseyside a prolific goal-getting machine, Kuyt somehow morphed into a versatile workhorse. His ability to get goals in big numbers didn’t translate at all, leaving many fans puzzled.

However, his tireless effort on the field, chasing down every ball and making opponents’ lives hell, in addition to his propensity to score big goals in big games, means that he is still a beloved figure at Anfield even though he hasn’t played there in almost a decade.

Verdict: HIT

Erik Nevland

FC Groningen to Fulham

Joined: 28 January 2008

Games: 67

Goals: 10

After being a huge hit in the Norwegian league, Nevland came to the Premier League via another impressive four-year spell in the Dutch top-flight. With an impressive goal scoring record, albeit at a low level, many saw Nevland as an exciting signing for Fulham who were struggling to stay in the Premier League.

Despite helping the Londoners avoid relegation, the striker failed to repeat his success at previous clubs and netted just 10 times in 67 appearances across all competitions for the Cottagers.

Verdict: MISS

Afonso Alves

Heerenveen to Middlesbrough

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 31 January 2008

Games: 49

Goals: 13

With an outrageous 37 goals in 38 games, Alves had matched the feats of Kežman and Van Nistelrooy with a much smaller club in Heerenveen. Fearing that Ajax or PSV would snatch him up, plucky Middlesbrough flexed their financial might to bring him to Teeside during the winter.

They should have let him percolate some more in Holland because the player they paid €20 million for simply did not turn up. Left after one and a half disappointing seasons.

Verdict: MISS

Marvin Emnes

Sparta Rotterdam to Middlesborough

Joined: 4 July, 2008

Games: 237

Goals: 41

Emnes made the move from Sparta Rotterdam to Middlesbrough in 2008 after winning the Sparta Fans’ Player of the Year award the season before.

He scored on his debut in a League Cup game against Yeovil Town but had to wait until August 2009 for his first league goal for his new club. His lack of goal threat led to successive loan deals to Swansea in both 2010 and 2014 before the forward made the move to Wales a permanent one. After failing to impress down in Wales, Emnes moved abroad to Turkish side Akhisar Belediyespor in summer 2017.

Verdict: MISS

Luis Suárez

Ajax to Liverpool

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 31 January 2011

Games: 133

Goals: 82

Signed by Liverpool midway through 2010/11 while he was serving a ban for biting, Suárez was a controversial figure during his time on Merseyside. Was never injured but missed several months with bans despite never actually receiving a red card.

When he played, however, he was devastating. A twisting hurricane of goals, assists, dribbles, all improvised ingenuity and utterly relentless drive. Carried an average Liverpool side to within a slip of winning the Premier League. An absolute gift of a footballer whose reputation as an all-time great will only be marred by his abusive on-pitch actions. Despite his controversies, Suarez made the blockbuster move to Barcelona in 2014 and has since continued his world-class performances for Atletico Madrid.

Verdict: HIT

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Jozy Altidore

AZ to Sunderland

Joined: 5 July 2013

Games: 82

Goals: 5

Altidore has actually had two spells in England but the first, a loan at Hull City when he was 20, isn’t what interests us here.

He was a much-hyped young talent and after (re-)building his reputation at AZ with 51 goals in 93 games, he joined Sunderland. But the Black Cats saw nothing like that kind of form from the American and after one and a half inconsistent seasons he left for MLS side Toronto FC.

Verdict: MISS

Wilfried Bony

Vitesse to Swansea

Joined: 11 July 2013

Games: 153

Goals: 52

The powerhouse Ivorian striker unleashed hell on the Eredivisie with Vitesse in 2012/13. His performance was so dominant (37 goals in 36 games) that he earned a move to the Premier League. Many feared he would be a repeat of Alves, but Bony was nothing like that.

He lit up the Premier League with Swansea and earned a move to Manchester City midway into his second season; it didn’t work out for him at the Etihad and subsequent moves to Stoke City and then back to the Swans haven’t reignited the form of Bony, who is currently a free agent.

Verdict: HIT

Graziano Pellé

Feyenoord to Southampton

Joined: 12 July 2014

Games: 80

Goals: 30

Tall, handsome and Italian with a name one letter away from Brazil’s legendary goalscorer Pelé. The Feyenoord man had a lot to live up to when Southampton signed him, especially as he was coming off 55 goals in 66 games across two seasons.

Despite the expectations, Pellé managed to produce for Southampton, helping them confirm their status as an established Premier League club. He was so impressive he earned a call-up to the Italian national side and was their starting striker at Euro 2016 before sealing a big-money move to the Chinese Super League where he thrived.

Verdict: HIT

Vincent Janssen

AZ to Spurs

Joined: 12 July 2016

Games: 42

Goals: 6

Arriving with a stellar reputation having hammered 31 goals in 49 games for AZ the previous season, Janssen has seen his stock plummet like it was October 19th, 1987.

This once-lethal striker has looked tame as a tap on the cheek, finding the back of the net on just six occasions with only two of those coming from open play. There was still hope for Janssen to find his feet went sent out on loan to Fenerbahce but form did not come, scoring five times in 17 appearances.

Having been on the books at Tottenham for one final year between 2018 and 2019, during which he made just three appearances, Janssen joined Mexican club Monterrey in the summer of 2019.

Verdict: MISS

Yuning Zhang

Vitesse to West Brom

Joined: 3 July 2017

Games: 0

Goals: 0

You can be forgiven for not knowing who Yuning Zhang is even if you’re as West Brom fan, as the Chinese striker barely spent any time at the Hawthorns.

Signed from Vitesse in the summer of 2017, having scored three goals in 28 games across all competitions for the Dutch club, Zhang was loaned to Werder Bremen the following day. Another loan spell fellowed the season after, at ADO Den Haag, before Zhang was allowed to leave in February 2019, joining Beijing Sinobo Guoan.

Verdict: MISS

Jurgen Locadia

PSV to Brighton

Hit or miss? Eredivisie strikers that have moved to the Premier League

Joined: 19 January 2018

Games: 46

Goals: 6

When Brighton signed Locadia from PSV in January 2018, he had scored nine goals in the first half of the 2017/18 Eredivisie campaign, helping his side to top of the league.

Arriving injured, Locadia had a tough start to life in England and managed just one goal in six Premier League appearances before the end of the campaign. His first full season at Brighton wasn’t much better, with Locadia scoring twice in 26 Premier League games and adding another two in the FA Cup. Locadia was then sent on loan spells at Hoffenheim and Cincinnati but recently returned to Brighton, playing once in the Premier League so far this season.

Verdict: MISS


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