Three Ajax players who Europe’s biggest sides should be looking at in January transfer window
By Karl Matchett.
Ajax might be top of the Eredivisie, but that doesn’t stop them having to worry about the January transfer window when it rolls around. Unlike many of Europe’s other famous names, though, Ajax aren’t likely to be hugely active in buying; instead, keeping hold of their big talents is the challenge, with the Dutch top flight a notorious hot-spot for snapping up prodigiously exciting young players.
Naturally, inflated January prices means that if any, Ajax might only have to offload one player, but there will be several in this side who the bigger teams around the Continent have more than half an eye on—here we take a look at three of the most viable candidates.
Younger central defender Jairo Riedewald might be the more attractive option right now after a stand-out last year or so, but Ajax’s general modus operandi would be to keep hold of their teenage talent for a few more seasons and sell on the 20-something option—in this case, Joel Veltman, 23, as opposed to the 19-year-old Riedewald.
Veltman has been a regular for the past three seasons and has been capped seven times by the Dutch national team. He has missed only a single game through illness this season, in the Europa League, and a further one cup tie where he was rested in an early round. Strong aerially, positionally improving with every passing season and as comfortable on the ball as you’d expect an Ajax academy graduate to be, Veltman’s career is headed only in one direction.
Teenager or not, if the offer is big enough then Ajax’s stars are going to head elsewhere, and that looks to be the case for central midfielder Riechedly Bazoer sooner rather than later. He has already been interesting Barcelona for some time and his ability to impact in both halves of the field is an obvious attraction.
Bazoer is tenacious and quick to make challenges centrally, but once in possession is a big reason for Ajax’s success in the final third; he makes things happen with surging runs, an ability to spread play intelligently and deliver a pass into the opposition penalty box.
Elsewhere in midfield, Davy Klaassen has stepped up a notch this term and will be another sought-after individual, while Daley Sinkgraven is precociously talented, but has stepped back a notch this campaign in terms of his first-team involvement—he’ll likely replace whichever of the above two is sold first, before following a similar career trajectory.
Looking back to his level after a bad year or so with loss of form and injury, Danish wide forward Viktor Fischer has already gotten himself into double figures with goals for this season and will soon once again be touted as the next big signing out of the Eredivisie—even though he’s not necessarily the best wide forward Ajax have right now.
He isn’t a guaranteed starter every game, but even so has notched seven goals in just over 900 minutes of Eredivisie football and no wonder: he’s extremely quick, likes to beat his man and cut infield, getting shots away as often as possible. Most commonly playing from the left of the attack, Fischer can also play on the opposite flank or through the middle and is a reasonably stereotypical modern inside forward—he’ll provide verticality, pace and shots on goal, thus will be in demand.
It’s probable Ajax won’t get a huge sum for him, but certainly enough to make him worth keeping an eye on and he could prove an excellent investment for whichever team takes the plunge on his talents—there’s certainly still room for further growth in his game.
Ajax’s squad is, once again, packed with plenty of teens and early 20-somethings, supplemented along the way by the more experienced heads such as Lasse Schone, Nick Viergever and Jasper Cillessen. It’s a mixed project which has worked well for Ajax in recent years to keep them at or near the top of Dutch football, and provides a great stepping stone to bigger things for their players.
It might not happen for these three in January, but certainly now and in summer, teams will be looking at them and pondering a bid—and worst of all for the Amsterdam club, the same, sooner or later, will go for the manager, Frank de Boer.