Bas Dost, John Guidetti and Luuk de Jong all enjoyed impressively prolific campaigns in this season’s Dutch top flight, either announcing their arrival or building on clear potential. Their collective haul of 77 Eredivisie goals was all the more impressive given that the oldest among them is still just 22.
“Being here is ideal for young forwards,” 21-year-old De Jong told FIFA.com last year, this season's second highest scorer explaining what makes the Netherlands such fertile ground for emerging strikers. “Given the faith coaches put in you, the attacking football culture, the space and a very technical environment, it’s the perfect championship in which to express yourself.”
The 2011/12 campaign confirmed the merit of that analysis once more as the Eredivisie’s freshest talents again made hay to an extent rarely seen elsewhere in Europe. Champions Ajax defended their title by plundering an unrivaled 93 goals, but on an individual level the plaudits belonged to a clutch of players from their beaten rivals.
FIFA.com takes a closer look at three of the Eredivisie’s most exciting young marksmen.
Bas Dost (Heerenveen)
Standing 1.92m tall, the Heerenveen forward used his height to help himself to 32 strikes in 34 outings this term. That feat has understandably caught the eye of some of the biggest names in England and Germany, but Dost himself claims to be more than happy in his native Netherlands. Signed from Heracles Almelo at the age of 20 after hitting 17 goals in 61 games, he has been a revelation since, impressing with his unorthodox style and finishing fourth highest scorer in Europe this season as he led Heerenveen back into the top five. Capped at U-20 and U-21 level, he is nonetheless set to miss out on UEFA EURO 2012.
John Guidetti (Feyenoord)
Feyenoord’s De Kuip home has once again become an imposing fortress for away sides and that has much to do with the scoring feats of young Swedish striker Guidetti. On loan from Manchester City, the newly capped international fired in 20 goals in 23 appearances for the Eredivisie runners-up to give notice of the ability that persuaded the Premier League powerhouse to bring him on board at the tender age of 15. First shown the ropes at the Ligi Ndogo academy in Kenya, where his father was working, Guidetti even made Feyenoord history by amassing three hat-tricks this term.
Luuk de Jong (Twente)
"Very soon he will be the best in the Netherlands – and he even has all the qualities a forward needs to become a European great,” says Patrick Kluivert, a man who certainly knows his subject. The younger brother of Siem de Jong – himself scorer of 13 goals in Ajax's campaign – the Oranje international more than doubled his tally last season by finding the net 25 times. Tall (1.88m), quick and technically gifted, De Jong boasts 62 strikes in all competitions over the last two seasons.
5 – The historic quintet of goals registered by Dost in Heerenveen’s 5-0 victory away against Feyenoord on 10 December last year.
The key moments
29 January 2012: Guidetti clinches the second of his hat-tricks in De Klassieker against Ajax, helping Feyenoord prevail 4-2 and beat their arch-rivals for the first time in six years. His eventual total of three trebles equaled the benchmark set by Dirk Kuyt in 2004/05 for De Stadionclub.
4 March 2012: De Jong plays his part in a historic 6-2 win for Twente away against PSV Eindhoven. A few weeks previously, he had also enjoyed a run of form in which he notched at least two goals in three consecutive games.
18 December 2011: Three more Eredivisie attacking prodigies, all aged 25 or younger, steal the limelight from Dost. Tim Matavz, Georginio Wijnaldum and Ola Toivonen shared out the goals in PSV’s 5-1 triumph at Heerenveen as their counterpart endured a rare off-day.