How this transfer summer is crucial for the Ajax stars of the success team from 2018-19

In the section Da’s Logical analyzes The Parool every week ‘the game behind the game’. With this time attention to the current situations of Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek.

Sam Planting

For the young stars of the dazzling Ajax from 2018-19, it seemed the sky the limit† Erik ten Hag’s team conquered football hearts all over the world. The top European clubs lined up for the best players from the fairytale team.

In the end, star players Matthijs de Ligt (85 million euros, to Juventus), Frenkie de Jong (86 million, Barcelona), Donny van de Beek (39, Manchester United) and Hakim Ziyech (40, Chelsea) for a total amount of a quarter of a billion. to the foreign top.

But now, three summers later, they all seem to be working at a new club. On the one hand, this shows the capriciousness of top football, where a successful record transfer is the exception rather than the rule. On the other hand, there is hope this summer for De Ligt, De Jong, Van de Beek and Ziyech. They all seem to be making progress.

Matthijs de Ligt

There is no question of a failed cooperation between Juventus and De Ligt. This is evident from the fact that Chelsea has to pay even more (allegedly 100 million) for the center defender than the club from Turin already did if it wants to get De Ligt to London.

Still, a move to the immensely competitive Premier League doesn’t seem like a bad idea. After nine league titles in a row between 2012 and 2020, Juventus have disappointedly finished fourth in the past two seasons. The club now seems to be fully committed to a major renovation of the selection. A resale (for a profit) of the high earner would bring in some much-needed funds for that project.

De Ligt will be keen to show that he is still among the best in the world. There is a chance that national coach Louis van Gaal will prefer the very young Jurriën Timber over him in the base at the World Cup. A scenario that De Ligt will want to avoid at all costs. A move to the interested Chelsea, where coach Thomas Tuchel turned his centre-backs Antonio Rüdiger (now Real Madrid) and Andreas Christensen (now Barcelona) into star players, seems sensible.


Hakim Ziyech tries to shake off former teammate Matthijs de Ligt.Image Action Images via Reuters

Hakim Ziyech

We can be a lot less nuanced about Ziyech’s time at Chelsea. The playmaker came into action in two seasons but in 39 percent of the available playing time. A crime for the lover of gifted technicians.

Fortunately, one of the ideal follow-up clubs is willing to go far for Ziyech’s arrival. Brand new Italian champion Milan wants the left leg as a creative conductor next season.

It would be a logical outcome for both sides: Milan’s two right wingers, Alexis Saelemaekers and Júnior Messias, were jointly involved in only 11 goals last season (6 goals, 5 assists), and starting ‘number 10’ Brahim Diaz was even involved. at 6 goals (3 goals, 3 assists). In the two positions where Ziyech can best perform, there is an urgent need for a quality injection in Milan. For Ziyech, it is hoped that Tuchel does not want to keep him as a reserve option at Stamford Bridge.

Frenkie de Jong

Erik ten Hag is looking for it close to home, in his search for new leaders at Manchester United. With Tyrell Malacia, the first Dutchman under his reign has already arrived, while with Antony and Lisandro Martínez he wants to welcome two more old acquaintances to his selection. But the transfer with which The Great Rebuild really should start at United is that of Frenkie de Jong.

Barcelona insists it does not want to lose the Dutchman, but actions sometimes speak louder than words. And with the transfer-free signing of Franck Kessié (Milan) and the upgrading of top talent Gavi’s contract, it is already getting pretty busy in the Catalan midfield, where star player Pedri and veteran Sergio Busquets are already assured of basic places under trainer Xavi.

At Manchester United, the presence of a midfielder à la Frenkie de Jong is a lot more necessary. With Scott McTominay and Fred, Ten Hag has two players in his control positions who both finished outside the top 20 of the Premier League midfielders last season with the most passes in the most attacking zone of the field.

That while, according to the data from FBref, both in terms of progressive ‘carries’ (rushes over more than 5 meters with ball at the foot), progressive passes (more than 10 meters forward) and progressive assumptions (ditto) in the best 10 percent of all midfielders in the five major European leagues belonged. In short, De Jong’s forward-looking build-up style is much needed in Manchester.

Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek celebrate the final win in the KNVB cup tournament.  Image ANP

Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek celebrate the final win in the KNVB cup tournament.Image ANP

Donny van de Beek

The arrival of Ten Hag does not come a second too soon for Van de Beek. Last season was even more annoying for the midfielder than his failed debut year at Manchester United. An injury prevented him from taking revenge as a mercenary at Everton.

But with the trainer under whom he experienced his best professional years, the cards seem to be shuffled differently. In Ten Hag’s game system, someone must always provide depth in the front four positions, with many running actions towards the sixteen-meter area. A diligent quality, which technicians such as Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford are not necessarily known for. After two disaster years at The Red Devils Suddenly a starting spot beckons for Van de Beek.

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