[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or clubs in the Eredivisie, there is a certain window that they can hold onto their best players.
This has been proven over time, with the financial constraints of the Dutch top flight and the allure of foreign adventures seeing the division’s brightest lights moving to England, Italy, Germany or Spain.
Champions PSV Eindhoven know this more than most, with the club seeing their best players departing for more glamorous climes over the years.
This summer, after a barnstorming campaign in 2014-15 that heralded the club’s first Eredivisie success in seven years, saw a continuation of the trend with a number of key performers sold at considerable expense.
Star midfield duo Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay departed for the Premier League while prodigious talent Zakaria Bakkali headed to Valencia.
In total, Phillip Cocu’s men recouped more than €50 million in transfer fees over the off-season, but the depleting of the squad threatened the team’s chances both domestically and in the Champions League.
However, with the Philips Stadion outfit reinvesting more than €20 million on new faces and starting the new season well, the suggestion is that PSV are more than equipped to progress from last term’s heroics.
A 2-1 win over a Manchester United side that included former posterboy Depay on Tuesday night was an excellent start to their European adventure, while after five domestic games the side remain unbeaten.
Of the starting XI that beat Louis van Gaal’s men, four were players signed permanently over the summer.
Importantly for a team that was loaded with youthful players last season, a bit of experience has also been added to Cocu’s ranks that sees them as more of a steely opponent.
The former Espanyol centre-half was much-admired last season and linked to some big clubs – his performance against United suggests why.
A commanding presence at the heart of the home side’s defence, his acquisition, along with the permanent capture of Frenchman Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, bolsters PSV’s back four.
Compatriot Andrés Guardado is a gifted operator who continues to show his ability and versatility for both club and country; after a loan stint last term, making his move to Holland permanent was a shrewd piece of business.
While the signings of the able Davy Pröpper from Vitesse Arnhem and veteran Simon Poulsen add strength in depth, possibly the most exciting new face is sprightly winger Maxime Lestienne.
The Belgian wideman provided the inch-perfect cross for Luciano Narsingh’s winner against United and put in an industrious display down the Dutch side’s left-hand side.
On loan from Middle Eastern side Al-Arabi, the 23-year-old spent last term on a similar deal at Genoa and looks like a player that can be a real star. Importantly, PSV have an option to buy Lestienne next summer if they so chose.
The test over time for PSV is similar to the one that Ajax have faced, and successfully overcome, in recent years.
The Amsterdam outfit have lost the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Luis Suárez, Toby Alderweireld, Daley Blind and Christian Eriksen over the last four years, but still managed to win four consecutive Eredivisie titles.
Although the Dutch top flight continues to be something of a feeder division for Europe’s major leagues, PSV’s defiance against Manchester United shows that Phillip Cocu’s men are set to be a force to be reckoned with both at home and on the continent this season.
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