When PSV Eindhoven won the Dutch Eredivisie last season by a 17 point margin from Ajax, it was perhaps only to be expected that their players would attract interest from Premier League clubs constantly seeking international talent. Newcastle acquired the services of Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum for approximately £14 million and who had netted 14 league goals for PSV last season, but top scorer Memphis Depay moved to Manchester United in a £20 million plus deal as part of an extensive transfer outlay by Louis Van Gaal in rebuilding the Red Devils. Yet as the Champions League Group B matches concluded on Tuesday evening, there was proof that expensive purchases do no guarantee success in the competition.
Besides buying Depay during the summer, Manchester United also recruited Anthony Martial, Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger adding to the Daly Blind, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Angel Di Maria incomings from the previous campaign. Di Maria was subsequently sold at a loss and Javier Hernandez departed for Bayer Leverkusen, but despite Van Gaal stressing that the results are improving for his team, United failed to win a group game on the road this term and they have failed to score a goal in six competitive games since the beginning of October.
On Tuesday evening, a victory at Wolfsburg for United would have ensured progression to the Champions League knockout phase, but when CSKA Moscow converted a late penalty to open the scoring in Eindhoven as United were losing 2-1 in Germany, Louis Van Gaal‘s team appeared set to maintain their second position in the group with PSV one point adrift before the evening games.
Luuk de Jong then equalised for PSV before United benefited from a late Joshua Guilavogui own goal to level the scores in Germany at 2-2. However, the Dutch champions and then Wolfsburg claimed late winners to allow Eindhoven progression to the Round of 32 with the Red Devils afforded the consolation prize of entry into the Europa League.
For PSV Eindhoven striker Luuk de Jong, it was a case of group success at the expense of his former team-mate Memphis Depay. De Jong was second top scorer in Dutch league football during the 2011-12 campaign before an expensive move to Borussia Monchengladbach, yet he never quite reproduced that prolific goalscoring form in the Bundesliga and failed to find the net during a five month loan spell at Newcastle.
The Dutch international subsequently moved back to the Eredivisie to join PSV and netted 20 league goals last season and currently tops the scoring charts this term with 13 strikes. De Jong provides ample proof that expensive transfer moves do not always guarantee success for player and club, with the more modest summer purchases of Hector Moreno and Gaston Pereiro helping PSV Eindhoven to deny their more illustrious opponents in this season’s Champions League.