In Focus: Feyenoord's deadly duo inspiring an unlikely title charge
Sebastien Haller is not the only player kickstarting his career in the Netherlands this season.
Feyenoord have launched an unexpected title challenge spearheaded by Guus Til and Bryan Linssen.
The duo sit second in the goalscoring charts with eight strikes, just behind Ajax star Haller.
They will hope to find the back of the net again tonight when Feyenoord visit Slavia Prague — and after that, an unlikely pursuit of an Eredivisie crown is on the agenda.
Feyenoord lost star man Steven Berghuis in the summer in one of the most controversial moves in Dutch football history.
The 29-year-old swapped Feyenoord for bitter rivals Ajax for around £5million — and reportedly received 19 pages worth of death threats as a result.
Berghuis said: "I am 29 years old, and it's no secret that I wanted to take the next step.
"It is important to me to further develop myself in the sport.
"When making the choice for my new club, in addition to my development as a football player, I was very much looking for the combination of playing for trophies, playing in the Champions League and staying in the picture with the national team.
"At Ajax, I think this all coincides."
Feyenoord needed someone to step up and take his mantle.
From Russia with love
Til had the world at his feet at the end of the 2018-19 season after an impressive campaign for AZ Alkmaar, scoring 15 goals and setting up a further seven.
But his decision to move to Spartak Moscow for £16m was an odd one.
After a miserable first year there — netting just twice — a loan move to Freiburg flopped as he was dropped to the reserve team, plying his trade in the fourth tier of German football.
Til has always had ability though and it was not much of a gamble for Feyenoord to take the 23-year-old on another loan this term.
He has repaid that faith in spades, helping fill the creative void left by Berghuis as well as finding his scoring boots.
The form of veteran Dutch striker Linssen has been a little more surprising though.
Signed from Vitesse in July 2020, the 31-year-old netted eight league goals in an unremarkable first campaign with the 2017 champions.
He has matched that total in just 12 games this term and is on course for the best haul of his career, bettering the 15 he managed in his first season with Vitesse.
It is not like Linssen has been filling his boots against the weaker teams either — he scored in the 4-0 rout of PSV in September and narrow victories over Go Ahead Eagles and Cambuur.
Nobody expected Arne Slot’s team to challenge for the Eredivisie title at the start of the campaign.
After finishing fifth last season, they were the fourth favourites for the title behind AZ Alkmaar and perennial contenders Ajax and PSV.
But the form of both Til and Linssen means victory in their game in hand would see them top the table.
They will need both players to maintain their scoring exploits if they are to keep up though.
Ajax have been imperious at home and abroad and look the team to beat, with Haller one of the continent's most in-form strikers.
The De Kuip faithful will hope that Erik ten Hag’s links with Manchester United disrupt the men from Amsterdam and open the door for a challenger.
Whether the Rotterdam club are able to break Ajax's monopoly will depend on Til and Linssen's ability to sustain their stunning start.