Blessed with some fine strikers over the years, it appears as if the Netherlands have unearthed another star to add to that ever-growing list. Over at PSV Eindhoven, Donyell Malen has propelled himself to the top of the Eredivisie scoring charts after netting a staggering five goals in their 5-0 win over Vitesse.
The 20-year-old striker is making a name for himself in his homeland after his superb start to the season, with those abroad now starting to take note of what is highly talented young forward with an exciting career ahead of him.
With that in mind, here are seven things to know about the Dutch wonderkid as he flourishes on the the big stage.
He Was Foolishly Sold by Arsenal
In what is becoming a growing trend in north London, the promising striker was let go from the Emirates to surprise from fans, who had high expectations of Malen as he moved his way up through the youth ranks. Just as with Ismael Bennacer, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Serge Gnabry before him, the Gunners will likely be left to rue that mistake given Malen’s current form.
Signing for Arsenal in 2015, the striker featured heavily for the Gunners’ youth sides before signing professionally with the club in early 2016. After success with the Under-18’s and Under-23’s, Malen was called up to the senior squad and made his debut in the club’s 2017 pre-season tour, featuring against Sydney FC and Chelsea, before being sold ahead of the new season.
Now top of the scoring charts in the Netherlands, that is already looking to be a foolish move on the Gunners’ part.
He’s Not Your Typical Number 9
With guile and electric footwork, Malen offers a different option to normal number nines. He is excellent at keeping hold of possession, not through sheer strength, but with superb technique and ball control.
However, just as is expected of Dutch number nines, he is also effective at dropping deeper and linking midfield and attack, possessing the creative touch that is a quintessential trait for Dutch strikers.
Now cemented as the club’s first-choice striker, the forward has demonstrated a varying skillset that is paying dividends under Mark van Bommel, with the club sitting joint-top of the Eredivisie table. He’s sparked up a fine understanding with Steven Bergwijn, and Malen’s quick pace but creative spark are going hand-in-hand with his Dutch teammate, causing numerous problems to defences across the country.
He Turned Down Manchester United & Chelsea
Prior to signing for Arsenal in 2015, Malen had plenty of suitors to choose from after earning rave reviews throughout his time with the Ajax youth academy. Having been with the club since 2007, the the youngster continued to develop his game until the point where European sides were on red-alert.
Despite strong resistance from the Amsterdam-based side, they eventually allowed him to leave, where United, Chelsea and Arsenal were all waiting in the wings to snap the striker up.
He eventually chose north London, partly due to the fact his idols growing up were Gunners legends Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, much to the delight of manager at the time Arsene Wenger.
He Knows How to Make an Impact
Earning a call-up to your national team is a moment of real pride for footballers around the world, with the chance to represent your country often times considered the pinnacle of playing the sport.
However, sometimes that pressure can be too much and many times players will crack under the weight of expectation and deliver a sub-par performance. Not Malen.
Getting the nod in the senior squad, Malen earned his first appearance for the Dutch national team in the recent 2020 European qualifiers.
In the daunting atmosphere of Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion, Malen came off the bench for the Dutch in their crucial clash with Germany in the 58th minute, before scoring his side’s third goal just 20 minutes later to put the visitors 3-2 in front. A late Georginio Wijnaldum goal settled the points, but it was Malen’s contribution that proved to be the clincher in the vital clash.
He’s Firing on All Competitions Already This Season
While he’s smashed his way to the top of the scoring charts in the Netherlands, he’s already been playing his part for the club in European competitions.
Needing to get through qualifying for the Europa League, PSV overcame Haugesund to set up a tricky clash with Apollon Limassol, with victory other two legs placing them in the competition’s group stage draw.
Malen made light work of the Cypriot outfit, scoring twice in the away leg as PSV ran out 7-0 winners on aggregate, meaning the Dutchman will now have the chance to test himself against some of Europe’s finest in the league, with the national team, and now in Europe.
Mino Raiola Is His Agent
One of the most well-known names in football, without even playing the sport, Malen’s agent is none other than the notorious Mino Raiola.
Representing the likes of Paul Pogba, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mario Balotelli and Matthijs de Ligt, the super-agent has grown a reputation for being brash and opting for a confrontational style, something that has seen him in end up in conflict with a succession of famous names.
Nevertheless, Malen praised the work of his agent to Dutch publication AD for securing him the move to PSV, insisting it is the perfect club for him at this present time.
He’s a Fan of Surinamese Food
I mean, who isn’t? Well, according to Wikipedia, Malen certainly is.
It probably has something to do with the fact he has a Surinamese father, but who knows. Oh, and in case you were wondering, ‘Pom’ is the country’s national dish, which is a mixture of chicken, pork and taro root, among other things, baked in an oven. You’re welcome.