Although the Netherlands finished runners up at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, the financial situation of many clubs in their domestic top flight, the Eredivisie, remains tight.
Nonetheless, the Dutch domestic league is bursting with talent both on the pitch and in the dugout. Indeed, there is plenty of reason to expect another exciting season as reigning champions FC Twente bid to defend the title they won little over two months ago. With the 2010/11 Dutch season already underway, FIFA.com takes a closer look at some of the figures expected to play a key role in the Eredivisie this year.
Michel Preud’homme (FC Twente)
After leading Standard Liege to the title in 2008, the Belgian coach revived the fortunes of KAA Gent before taking over at reigning Dutch champions FC Twente in May. The former international goalkeeper's task is a simple one: retain the championship trophy at all costs. Twente stretched their purse strings to ensure Preud'homme has the squad to do so, bringing in Marko Janko for a club record fee of over €6 million. The Austrian striker arrives from Red Bull Salzburg, for whom he netted an impressive 75 goals between 2005 and 2010. "The coach gets on with his work very professionally and with plenty of tact. He's patient and he explains to each individual player what is expected of them," said Janko. After securing the Dutch Supercup trophy at the beginning of the season, Twente managed to hang on to the services of star man Bryan Ruiz, though they did allow seven players to depart, among them Ronnie Stam and Marko Arnautovic.
Luis Suarez and Mounir El Hamdaoui (Ajax Amsterdam)
Uruguayan goalgetter Suarez looks to be staying with Ajax for at least one more season. Coach Martin Jol is a keen admirer of the Celeste striker, who was in fine form at South Africa 2010 and struck an incredible 35 goals in 33 matches last term. Jol is said to be one of the main reasons Suarez is keen to stay in Amsterdam despite offers from a host of top European clubs, but if the South American does change his mind, Ajax have moved to cushion the potential blow by signing another top-class striker in Mounir El Hamdaoui. The Moroccan hitman, who topped the Eredivisie scoring charts in 2008/09 as AZ Alkmaar marched to the title, netted two goals in the first round of matches this season and is set to form a formidable strike duo alongside Suarez at the Amsterdam Arena.
Patrick Kluivert (NEC Nijmegen)
After honing his management skills at PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar, the 34-year-old former Dutch international is now equipped with an official coaching license and the Netherlands' record goalscorer is all set to embark on his second career on the touchline. The ex-Barcelona striker will be working as assistant to Wiljan Vloet at NEC Nijmegen, who finished 13th last season. "It's exactly what I wanted. I can learn a lot here, but hopefully I can impart some of my own experience too," said Kluivert, who celebrated his first match in the dugout with a 1-0 victory over VVV Venlo.
Ola Toivonen (PSV Eindhoven)
The PSV Eindhoven forward hit a brace in his side's first game of the campaign against Heerenveen and after arriving from Malmo midway through last season, the Swedish international will again spearhead PSV's charge for the title they last won in 2008. Toivonen will be supported in attack by Marcus Berg, on loan from Hamburg, as well as new signing from AZ Alkmaar Jeremain Lens and veteran campaigner Danny Koevermans.
Hector Moreno (AZ Alkmaar)
As is the case with many of the top players in the Eredivisie, it remains to be seen whether Hector Moreno will still be plying his trade in the Netherlands come the end of the season, not least due to the club's financial restraints. Moreno, who became the fifth Mexican defender to move to Europe when he signed for Alkmaar two years ago, enjoyed a successful summer with his national team, managing a start in their 2010 FIFA World Cup group stage match against France. However, upon returning to his club he could only watch as the likes of Lens, Ari and El Hamdaoui departed for pastures new, though Moussa Dembele and Sergio Romero have both been brought in as replacements. As a result of those deals, the 22-year-old became one of AZ's key squad members almost overnight, and now it is up to him to rise to the challenge of increased responsibility.
Tim Matavz and Thomas Enevoldsen (FC Groningen)
Matavz and the Enevoldsen have been on several clubs' transfer wish lists during the close season, yet still the two remain at FC Groningen in spite of a number of attempts to prize them away. Slovenian striker Matavz opened his account in the second half of his side's 2-2 opening draw against Ajax last Sunday, while Denmark's Enevoldsen, who returned to training later than the rest of the squad due to his World Cup commitments, is tipped to become one of the Eredivisie's top midfielders once he reaches peak fitness.