Until recently, the name VVV-Venlo will have meant little to West Ham United fans. Earlier this season, the Hammers announced they had struck a deal with the Dutch club that would allow the best youngsters in our academy to get first team experience on loan in the second tier of Netherlands football.
The news was pretty unexpected, and left many supporters scratching their heads and wondering what the benefits would be. Aft er all, what good can come of sending our next Reece Oxford or Reece Burke to a country that has failed to qualify for next summer’s European Championships in France? However, what I would argue is there are plenty of benefits from the arrangement, one being that it will also give West Ham first option on buying any talents the club known as Th e Good Old are looking to cash in on.
The Jupiler League, which is named after the Belgian beer company, is probably about the standard of League Two. Th e football is more physical than in the Eredivisie but there is still an emphasis on playing the ‘Nederlandse School’ (the Dutch way) of 4-3-3 with the full-backs pushing on and a number 10 behind the striker.
VVV are no exception to this rule and this means that any West Ham youth players who will be plying their trade there will have to adapt to the Dutch way of playing and must be comfortable on the ball. Th e division also has a reputation of helping young players to make their names and reach their potential. The likes of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Sami Hyppia, Jaap Stam, Dirk Kuyt, Nacer Chadli, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen, Keisuke Honda and Michel Vorm all spent time in the Jupiler league, which helped to launch their football careers.
As such West Ham’s youngsters can expect to be schooled in a different type of football and this can only add more strings to their bow and become more rounded footballers. Since the clubs are a lot smaller and don’t have as many resources as Eredivisie clubs the players will have to look aft er themselves. That means any youngsters we send over will have to mature a lot faster. Th ey will have to live on their own, do their own cooking and have to get to grips with the basics of the Dutch language.
VVV is also a good choice of club from West Ham’s point of view as there will hardly be any off -field distractions for the players. Venlo has a nice city centre and isn’t too small by Dutch standards (about 40,000 residents call the place home) but it is hardly Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Eindhoven with its fl ashy clubs, bars and model shows.
West Ham, of course, are not the first English club to collaborate with a Dutch team. In 2010, Merab Jordania, a business associate of Roman Abramovich, bought Vitesse and the club have since borrowed many of Chelsea’s youngsters including Josh McEachran and Sam Hutchinson. Now West Ham have followed suit. Th e players who get to go out on loan to VVV will live the life, play fi rst team football and experience a different culture. It is now up to them to make the most of it.