The 20/21 Eredivisie season begins this Friday and we will preview the expectations of each Eredivisie club. In this article, we look at Ajax.

After the run to the Champions League semi-finals and lifting the Eredivisie title the year before, Ajax’s 19/20 campaign didn’t go as expected.

Erik ten Hag’s side lost Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt in the summer before being knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages. They were then given a big scare by AZ Alkmaar in the title race, and only finished top on goal difference when the season was ended early.

With Donny van de Beek, and Hakim Ziyech now departing, Ajax once again head into a new campaign after losing two of their star men. Can ten Hag’s talented squad remain as the Eredivisie’s top dogs or will the challenge of AZ Alkmaar cause them issues again, with Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven also looking to be stronger competition than last season too?

Transfers

Like most summers, Ajax has lost some key players with Hakim Ziyech leaving for Chelsea, while Donny van de Beek has joined Manchester United. Ravzan Marin, Lisandro Magallan, Sven Botman and Joel Veltman are the other big departures.

Ryan Babel’s loan has not been extended, while Kik Pierie and Danilo have joined FC Twente on loan. Nicolas Tagliafico could still be on the way out with a lot of interest in the Argentinian.

Maarten Stekelenburg has returned to the club after leaving Everton and he will be back-up to Andre Onana, who is still with the club. Brazilian winger Antony is an exciting addition to the squad, along with midfielder Mohammed Kudus, who has signed from FC Nordsjælland.

The signings are not done with a new midfielder expected to join the club in the near future. Luis Suarez has also been linked but a deal is unlikely.

Head Coach

A year ago, Erik ten Hag was one of the most in demand coaches in Europe after guiding Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals, but his star seems to have fallen a little after last season.

Ten Hag is still an excellent coach who has Ajax playing some great football this preseason, and should Ajax win the title and go on another run in the Champions League, he will once again be linked with several other clubs.

Key Players

Dusan Tadic will once again be the main man up front for Ajax with the Serbian possibly starting through the middle. Tadic has scored an incredible 54 goals and added 45 assists in 98 games for Ajax and is a good bet to be their star again this season.

Daley Blind has recovered from a heart scare in pre-season and is fit to start the campaign as centre-back, while Quincy Promes is in for a big year as he could be chosen as number ten in Van de Beek’s absence. David Neres is also fit and set to return on the wings. Onana’s presence in goal also cannot be downplayed and he would be a big loss if he does eventually leave.

Young players to watch

Ryan Gravenberch (18) is one of the Netherlands biggest young talents and he will be a key player in the Ajax midfield this season.

Perr Schuurs (20) has made a big impression at the back in pre-season and earned a call-up to the Netherlands squad. He will go into the season as one of the first-choice centre-backs.

New signings Antony (20) and Mohammed Kudus (20) have looked excellent in pre-season and could take the Eredivisie by storm. Lassina Traore (19) will also be a regular up front too, along with Noa Lang (21) who is back after a loan with FC Twente.

A number of youngsters could be given a chance through the season such as Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, Sontje Hansen, Naci Unuvar, Jurrien Timber, and Devyne Rensch.

Preseason

Preseason has been excellent for Ajax with the club winning seven out of their eight games, with the other a 2-2 draw against Union Berlin which saw key players rested.

Ajax were too strong for RKC Waalwijk (6-1), Utrecht (5-1), Wolfberger (2-0) Red Bull Salzburg (4-1), Holsten Kiel (5-2), Hertha Berlin (1-0), Eintracht Frankfurt (2-1), and Augsburg (1-0)

Strongest line-up

Onana, Dest, Tagliafico, Schuurs, Blind, Gravenberch/Martinez, Kudus, Promes, Antony, Neres, Tadic

Predicted finish

On paper, Ajax are still the strongest side in the Eredivisie and they head into the campaign looking to finish top and anything else would be a big failure.

A Champions League run will once again be a big aim for the club too but they can’t afford to take their attention off the Eredivisie with three clubs all ready to challenge them for the title.

Ten Hag has a very young and talented squad at his disposal this year and they will once again be very exciting to watch. Gravenberch, Kudus and Antony could all be household names by the end of the season and the club could sweep up all the prizes on offer.




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