Robin van Persie‘s exploits of 2011 prompted top clubs everywhere to look to the Netherlands in search of the next Dutch master. FC Twente’s Luuk De Jong has emerged as a transfer target for a host of Premier League and European clubs, but don’t expect the striker to move in January.
Much of the speculation about the 21-year-old leaving Twente was caused by one short answer he gave in response to a question about his future. He spoke of his desire to someday play outside of his country – as all the Dutch greats do at some point — and he was instantly linked with any Premier League club rumored to be looking for a striker.
The fact of the matter is that De Jong has shown no real desire to leave Twente in the near term. He developed from a talented, but raw, teenager to a full international in two-plus seasons at the club. He is also in contention for a place in the 23-man Dutch squad at next summer’s European championships, and a move to a new team (especially in a higher-level league) would jeapordize his chances. Any adaptation period could hurt his form, confidence and playing time.
In a bit of recycling, Twente hired Steve McClaren as its manager earlier this month. The former England manager led the club to the Eredivisie title in 2010. McLaren was in charge at Twente when it brought De Jong to the club from De Graafschaap back in 2009. The manager and will likely depend on the hitman to lead the third-place club’s title charge this season.
Sibling rivalry could play a role as well. De Jong’s older brother, Siem, is an attacking midfielder at title rivals Ajax Amsterdam. Ajax pipped Twente to the title on the final day of last season. Luuk may see this season as a great chance to get one over on his older brother, before setting out on his own European adventure.
De Jong’s agent recently said no Premier League club has contacted him about his client. That does not mean one sale within the league won’t set off a domino effect — as we saw last year when Fernando Torres left Liverpool for Chelsea. But it’s more realistic to think De Jong will end the season at Twente, play for the Netherlands at Euro 2012, drive up his price, and leave for another club in the summer.
If a potential buying club is that certain about his talent and ability, it would be wise to bring him into the fold sooner rather than later. Several millions of dollars are at stake. Any goal he scores at Euro 2012 will see he price tag multiply. De Jong and Twente would have it no other way. The buying club would feel the sting.