The Dutch, famously liberal and a nation that certainly produces some footballing talent. Several of the country’s best talents have crossed the channel to ply their trade in English football during the Premier League era, with many finding a home at the division’s most successful side in Manchester United.
Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek is reportedly close to sealing a move to Old Trafford, and we’ve decided to look back at the contingent of Dutchmen to ply their trade at Old Trafford in modern times, rating each.
Here are our ratings of the 11 Dutch players to have played for Manchester United in the Premier League era…
Jordi Cruyff (1996-2000)
The son of a footballing legend, Jordi Cruyff would largely struggle to emerge from the shadow of his famous father during a career that took in spells at the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Espanyol.
The midfielder would come through the academy ranks at the Catalan club his father had helped transform, making 54 appearances in all competitions before moving to Old Trafford for £1.4m in the summer of 1996.
Despite hopes being high that Cruyff could make an impact on a United side that had dominated the early seasons of the Premier League, his career would stagnate in English football as a succession of injuries restricted his ability to make an impression.
Cruyff would claim a league title in his debut season, but four years would yield just 58 appearances and eight goals in all competitions before he would return to Spain at the expiry of his contract.
Raimond van der Gouw (1996-2000)
Joining Cruyff for a four-year spell at Old Trafford would be Van der Gouw, the goalkeeper signed from Vitesse Arnhem to serve as back-up to Peter Schmeichel.
After limited appearances in each of his first three seasons, Van der Gouw would enjoy a more regular role following Schmeichel’s departure to Sporting Lisbon in 1999, playing 14 times in the Premier League as Australian shot-stopper Mark Bosnich faltered in his attempts to replace the Great Dane.
That tally was enough to see Van der Gouw qualify for a league winners medal for the first time, though he would return to a back-up role once more following the signing of Fabien Barthez from Monaco in 2000.
Jaap Stam (1998-2001)
Stam’s departure from Manchester United is considered by Sir Alex Ferguson as one of his greatest regrets, a testament to the Dutch defender’s imperious performances during a hugely successful three-year spell at the club.
The centre-back was a formidable defensive presence, combining pace and power with ball-playing abilities and winning three league titles, one FA Cup and the Champions League during his time at Old Trafford.
He would leave for Lazio in 2001 in acrimonious circumstances but despite his relatively short spell in the Premier League, the towering defender is widely recognised as one of the competition’s greats.
Ruud van Nistelrooy (2001-2006)
Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United had to wait a year to secure the services of prolific forward Ruud Van Nistelrooy after a major knee injury delayed his move from PSV, but the then British-record signing certainly proved worth the wait.
150 goals in 219 games followed, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and a League Cup in five seasons and being named PFA Player of the Year in 2001/02 and Premier League Player of the Season in 2002/03.
After falling out with an up and coming talent by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy was sold to Real Madrid in 2006, though he is remembered fondly amongst the adoring United fanbase.
Edwin Van der Sar
Peter Schmeichel’s Manchester United departure left a huge void between the posts for Sir Alex Ferguson, one that would take six years to fill before the arrival of the experienced Van der Sar.
Several replacements had failed to adequately replace the goalkeeping great, but the Dutchman’s signing soon brought a new sense of solidity to the club’s number one position.
Signed from Fulham for just £1.5m, the veteran goalkeeper proved one of the Scot’s shrewdest purchases of the Premier League era. A calming presence and excellent shot-stopper, Van Der Sar won four league titles and the Champions League during a trophy-laden six-year spell at Old Trafford.
Robin van Persie
For a player of immense talent, Van Persie’s 11 years in English football delivered very little in terms of team silverware. Eight years and 132 goals at Arsenal saw the forward win just one FA Cup, and when the opportunity arrived to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in 2012 Van Persie took his chance.
His debut season at the club would prove to be one to remember, Van Persie producing some breathtaking moments to inspire United to a record-extending 20th league title. The Dutchman’s 26 goals earned him the division’s Golden Boot, Van Persie’s signing proving to be the catalyst as United wrestled the title back from neighbours Manchester City.
The greatest goalscorer in the history of the national team, Van Persie would leave the club for Fenerbahce in 2015 having scored 58 goals in 105 appearances.
Alexander Buttner (2012-2014)
Patrice Evra’s advancing years saw Manchester United saw United seek to replace the long-serving left-back in 2012, signing Buttner from Vitesse Arnhem.
A move to Southampton had looked on the cards for the full-back until United’s intervention, and a goal on his debut was followed by league title success at the end of his debut season at the club.
That would be as good as it got for Buttner, however, his bit-part role in that campaign part of a struggle to establish himself, making just nine league starts over two seasons.
He would leave for Dynamo Moscow in 2014, and is currently plying his trade in the MLS with New England Revolution, a far cry from the Old Trafford spotlight.
Daley Blind (2014-2018)
Having been part of Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands side that reached the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, Blind would follow his compatriot to United later that summer as a new era began at Old Trafford.
Blind would enjoy a solid if unspectacular four-year spell at the club, winning the FA Cup under Van Gaal before later lifting a Europa League and League Cup double in Jose Mourinho’s debut season at the helm.
His versatility would prove crucial as he operated in a variety of positions including centre-back, midfield and at left-back, though he would return to Ajax in the summer of 2018 where he featured as part of the side that won a domestic double and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.
Memphis Depay (2015-2017)
The biggest Dutch disappointment?
The winger had developed a burgeoning reputation as a goalscoring wide forward during his time at PSV Eindhoven, moving to Old Trafford in a £25m deal and being handed the club’s hallowed number seven shirt.
Depay’s time in English football would see him fail to live up to expectations, however, scoring just two league goals in 18 months before being deemed surplus to requirements by Jose Mourinho and being sold to Lyon.
His career has enjoyed a renaissance in French football, showing his evident talent, though his move to the Premier League came perhaps too soon as he failed to show his abilities on a consistent basis.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (2014-present)
Talented and versatile, Holland international Fosu-Mensah is still yet to establish himself as a Manchester United player and is now facing a crossroads in his career as he looks to reach his potential.
Having made his debut in 2016, Fosu-Mensah has made just a further 11 league appearances and has since endured mixed fortunes during loan spells at Crystal Palace and Fulham.
Now 22-years-old, he is in the final year of his contract and had looked to on his way out of the club, but Solskjaer used him on a few occasions after the restart and is thought to be prepared to give the youngster a chance to prove himself as a useful squad player.
Tahith Chong (2016-present)
One of a host of youngsters given their opportunity under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Chong has thrived for the club’s youth sides but is yet to transfer those talents to first-team level.
The 20-year-old has looked raw in his limited senior action thus far, although he is highly rated behind the scenes at Old Trafford.
The youngster finally signed a new contract recently after months of speculation that he would join Juventus. He is now due to spend the current season out on loan in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen and it is hoped he will develop into a first-team option upon his return.
— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) August 29, 2020