Peter Robert Bowler looks at Ajax’s legacy of producing talent and the next young superstar making a name for himself in the Amsterdam Arena, Kasper Dolberg.

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Some things in football are just a given. Every year, despite the ever-changing financial landscape of world football, there are some things you just know are a safe bet to happen. Jose Mourinho will most likely fall out with another manager through the press (he has plenty of adversaries to choose from this year!). Leeds United will end up sacking a manager (or two…or three!), and AFC Ajax, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious clubs, will no doubt produce another great young talent. It looks like, for Ajax at least, this year will be no different.

For those who might be somewhat unfamiliar with quite how prolific Ajax are with bringing through new talent, here’s a quick breakdown of the kind of player Ajax introduce to the world over the last 30 years:

  • 1980-1990: Danny Blind (now the Netherlands Head Coach), Frank Rijkaard (former Barcelona Manager), Gerald Vanenburg (scorer of 112 goals for Ajax and PSV combined), Marco Van Basten (scored 218 goals in 280 professional games) and Ronald Koeman (67 goals for Barcelona, now the Manager of Everton).
  • 1990-2000: Clarence Seedorf (the only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs), Edgar Davids (won the Champions League with Ajax), Edwin van der Sar (won the Champions League with Ajax and Manchester United), Dennis Bergkamp (widely considered one of the greatest strikers of all time), Frank De Boer (Champions League winner and former Ajax manager), Marc Overmars (Champions League winner with Ajax) and Patrick Kluivert (Scored the winning goal in the 1995 Champions League final for Ajax, now the Director of Football at PSG).
  • 2000-2010: Jaap Stam (Champions League winner, now manager of Reading FC), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (42 goals for the Netherlands, now at Schalke 04), Luis Suarez (305 goals in 407 games so far, now at Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (the greatest player in Sweden’s football history) and Wesley Sneijder (Champions League winner with Inter Milan, now at Galatasary).

If you add on top of that some of the excellent players who have come through Ajax’s ranks in the last 6 years, such as Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderwiereld (now all at Tottenham Hotspur) as well as the current crop of young talent who still currently play for the club, such as Davy Klaassen, Jasper Cillessen, Jairo Riedeweld and Riechedly Bazoer, you can see that this is a club who have an unprecedented gift for bringing through world class players, year after year. So the inevitable question is, when you take all this into consideration, who’s next? The answer, I believe, is one young Dane by the name of Kasper Dolberg.

Signed by the much acclaimed Danish football scout, John Steen Olsen, the same scout who discovered talents like Ibrahimovic, Eriksen and the recently departed Viktor Fischer, Dolberg joined Ajax from Danish side Silkeborg IF at the age of 17. Now, approaching his first full season with the first team, Dolberg looks like really breaking onto the scene. His debut appearance for the first team came last week in the Champions League against Greek side, PAOK. Despite looking most comfortable in the wide areas, Dolberg led the line for Ajax in Milik’s (now permanent) absence, and, in my opinion, stole the show. His energy up top, combined with his lightning-fast link-up play with Ajax’s other attacking players, showed a forward who looked more experienced than his years could possibly allow. He was tenacious, filled with a desperation to succeed that the Ajax faithful have seen many times before from the likes of such players that I have previously mentioned, and was rewarded for his hard work with a debut goal.

So just how far can this young lad go? Well, if Ajax’s track record is anything to go by, he’ll certainly get games. This is a team who are not afraid, year in year out, to give chances to hungry young players, and Dolberg already looks like cementing his place in Peter Bosz’s side. It would appear, that the legacy of Ajax, the relentless producer of ‘next big things’, is firmly in place as we approach the 16/17 Eredivisie season, and with Dolberg at the forefront, it doesn’t look like stopping any time soon. Barcelona, Madrid, Manchester United, take note of this young Dane…

Peter Robert Bowler (1 Posts)