Former Arsenal prospect Donyell Malen’s rise in the Eredivisie with PSV has been rather impressive.
He is now, arguably, one of the stars of the Dutch top flight – this season, he has 17 goals in 25 games for the Eindhoven outfit, and is already a Netherlands international at the age of 21. Of course, there was a time when he was a Gunner.
The striker actually spent two years as part of the club’s youth system, but he left in 2017 to make the move back to his homeland for £540,000 – as per Transfermarkt. It seems that the decision to depart was actually the player’s decision. He told De Telegraaf that the Emirates outfit actually wanted to extend his contract, but he instead chose to make the switch as he thought it would be best for his career progression.
He appears to have been proved right with his bold decision. In less than three years, his Transfermarkt value has risen to £25.2m.
Here, we take a look at three big themes and landmarks behind that significant increase.
Malen wasn’t straight into the first side at the Philips-Stadion – he spent the 2017/18 campaign playing mostly for the club’s U21 side. He did scored 13 goals in 22 games there, but managed just four matches at senior level, failing to score.
The 2018/19 term, though, proved to be his breakout season. He played 31 matches for PSV, scoring 10 goals and providing five assists along the way. He helped his team push Ajax all the way, but they were only able to finish in second place in the end. Still, it was a successful season, and it really put the youngster on the map.
It was only a matter of time before his displays caught the eye of Oranje manager Ronald Koeman, and he earned his first call-up for last year’s European Championships qualifiers. It could have hardly have gone better, either – he was brought off the bench against Germany to pick up his first cap, and he scored what was effectively the winner in his country’s 4-2 victory against the 2014 World Cup champions.
Since then, he has played three more times, picking up one assist. Expect to see him become a regular fixture in the years to come.
His showings for PSV and the Netherlands meant he had quickly become a valuable asset, and the club were quick to make sure he committed to a long term deal. In August of last year, he signed a new five-year contract, which will see him stay with the side until 2024.
He said upon the confirmation: “I love life in Eindhoven. This is a major step forward, but I can still learn a lot of things here.”
He has repaid that faith this term with that impressive strike-rate mentioned earlier. Clearly, he has come full circle – Arsenal have actually been linked with a move to take him back to the Emirates Stadium.
PSV, though, are said to want €56m (£51.2m) for his services.
It seems that the north London club are already living to regret the youngster’s bold decision.