In the world of Premier League football, Dutch players have had their fair share of success and struggle. While Everton may be an exception to the rule, many players from the Netherlands have seamlessly transitioned to the English top flight. From Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal to Ruud van Nistelrooy at Manchester United, Dutch talents have often thrived under the pressures of English football. The modern era continues to see stars like Cody Gakpo, Ryan Gravenberch, and Micky van der Ven excelling at clubs such as Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
As writes the FFC, not all Dutch players find the Premier League to be a perfect fit, and Everton’s experiences with Dutch signings in recent years serve as a prime example. Davy Klaassen’s story is one that sheds light on the highs and lows of Dutch footballers in the English top flight.
Klaassen, who had consistently performed for Ajax in the Eredivisie, was brought to Everton by then-manager Ronald Koeman for a £24 million transfer fee ahead of the 2017/18 season. His impressive goal-scoring record at Ajax, with 43 goals over four seasons, made him an exciting prospect. During the 2016/17 campaign, Klaassen scored double digits in the league for Ajax and assisted ten goals, in addition to scoring 14.
Despite his contributions, Ajax narrowly missed out on the Eredivisie title, finishing one point behind rivals Feyenoord. This prompted Klaassen to test his skills outside his homeland and join Everton. However, the move turned out to be disastrous for the attacking midfielder.
Klaassen’s time at Everton was marred by limited playing opportunities. He featured for just 249 minutes in the Premier League, and managerial changes from Koeman to Sam Allardyce and then Marco Silva did not improve his situation. Between September 22, 2017, and March 10, 2018, he didn’t play a single Premier League match for the Toffees. Throughout his time at the club, he failed to register a single goal or assist.
In the summer of 2018, Werder Bremen came to Klaassen’s rescue by purchasing him, although Everton incurred a financial loss, reportedly selling him for £12 million. Klaassen’s career took a positive turn in Germany, where he scored five goals and provided five assists in his first season. His second season with Bremen was even more successful, with seven goals and six assists.
A return to Ajax in 2020 saw Klaassen rejuvenate his career on familiar turf. He became a pivotal figure for the club, scoring an additional 38 goals and reinforcing his status as a true legend at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Following a period of turmoil at Ajax, including matches abandoned due to crowd trouble and a drop to 16th in the Eredivisie, the 30-year-old midfielder decided to make another move. This time, he’s taken on the challenge of Serie A with Inter Milan. With 54 goals and 25 assists since his Everton departure, Klaassen’s career resurrection is undeniable.
While it remains to be seen how he performs under the pressure of Italian football, there’s no doubt that Davy Klaassen has successfully revitalized his career since his difficult stint at Goodison Park.