This Wednesday, Ajax take on Manchester United for the Europa League trophy. Michael Bell takes a look at the Ajax squad aiming to lift their first major trophy since 1995.

Goalkeepers

Andre Onana

Age:21 Nationality: Cameroonian

The Cameroonian was snatched from the Barcelona academy in 2015 and originally started this season as back-up to Tim Krul, who joined Ajax on loan from Newcastle United after Jasper Cillessen left. However, an injury to Krul presented Onana with his chance to impress and he hasn’t looked back since and is undoubtedly number one in Amsterdam.

The 21-year-old is an excellent shot-stopper and has kept 21 clean sheets this season, including six in the Europa League so far. He commands his area well, likes to build possession from the back and has adhered himself to the Ajax fans with his passion. Onana made several crucial saves against Lyon in the semi-final and Manchester United will have a tough time getting past the last line of Ajax’s defence on Wednesday.

Diederik Boer

Age: 36-years-old Nationality: Dutch

The veteran has been the backup goalkeeper at Ajax since joining in 2014 from PEC Zwolle. He mainly features for the club in the KNVB Cup but has made one appearance in the Europa League this season, with Ajax earning a 1-1 draw with Standard Liege.

The Defence

Davinson Sanchez

Age: 21 Nationality: Colombian

Undoubtedly the signing of the season in the Netherlands, Sanchez has proved to be an absolute bargain for Ajax since joining from Atlético Nacional in the summer for a tiny fee just under £5 million.

The Colombian has controlled the Ajax back four this season and has barely put a foot wrong in their Europa League campaign. Sanchez has all the attributes of a world class centre back, being quick, strong in the air, a ferocious tackler and confident with the ball at his feet. He provides a dangerous threat from corners and loves to bring the ball out of defence at every opportunity.

Interestingly, Ajax thought off Barcelona B to sign the youngster in the summer, but the Spanish giants are once again being linked with Sanchez as they search for a new centre-back. Rumours in Spain have also stated that Lionel Messi is a big fan and wants the club to sign him before the start of next season.

For now, Sanchez is at Ajax and will be fully focused on shutting down the Manchester United attack.

Matthijs de Ligt

Age: 17 Nationality: Dutch

What an incredible season it has been for the centre-back who started in the U19 squad but has swiftly become an undroppable member of Bosz’s first eleven.

Given his size and build it is hard to believe that De Ligt is only 17, but the youngster has the attitude and playing style of a seasoned pro. Strong, dominant in the air, and excellent with the ball at his feet, De Ligt is a huge talent, but he is still learning his trade. His mistakes in his debut for the Dutch national team were well documented, while he gave away a rash penalty in the semi-final with Lyon.

However, Bosz is likely to start with De Ligt on Wednesday making him the youngest player to ever start a major European final. How well De Ligt handles the occasion will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the match.

Joel Veltman

Age: 25 Nationality: Dutch

The experienced member of the Ajax defence at the age of 25, Veltman broke into the Ajax starting eleven as a centre-back but has been converted into a right-back over the season. Kenny Tete had been Ajax’s first choice for that position but Bosz prefers Veltman and the Dutch international hasn’t let him down.

A reliable no-thrills defender, Veltman is strong defensively and has played a major role in Ajax reaching the final, but won’t contribute much to the attack. Veltman can also be a little hot headed at times and has been booked in four of the nine European matches this season.

Not getting booked early will be crucial for Veltman, who will need to stop a speedy Manchester United attack. Wednesday may be Veltman’s final match for the Amsterdam side with a move to the Premier League reportedly on the cards.

Daley Sinkgraven

Age: 21 Nationality: Dutch

Ajax signed the attacking midfielder after he had an excellent with Heerenveen, but Sinkgraven struggled to impose himself in Amsterdam and had become a reserve. However, when Bosz took charge, he converted Sinkgraven into an attacking left back and the 21-year-old has flourished.

His dribbling skills and crossing ability make him the perfect full-back for an attacking side like Ajax and he loves to get forward and combine with Amin Younes on the left-wing. Defensively, there was definitely question marks when Sinkgraven took on the position, but he has improved immensely as the season has gone on, improving his positional and tackling abilities.

Sinkgraven was a major doubt for the game a few weeks ago, but he has recovered in time and may start in the defence on Wednesday.

Jairo Riedewald

Age:20 Nationality: Dutch

A regular under Frank de Boer, Riedewald flourished in the Ajax back-four last season and broke into the Netherlands national team. However, since Bosz took charge, the youngster has found himself out of favour, with Riedewald only appearing in 16 league games.

He is a versatile player, though, and whenever one of Bosz’s first choice defenders has been unavailable, Riedewald has come in and done an excellent job. He may start against Manchester United at left-back with Sinkgraven coming back from injury and Nick Viergever suspended.

Riedewald is a tall and strong defender, but he has excellent technique which has come from years of playing at full-back in the Ajax youth sides. He is intelligent for his age, quick, and a threat in the box with his height.

Kenny Tete

Age: 21 Nationality: Dutch

Like Riedewald, Tete was a first choice defender under de Boer but since Bosz took charge in the summer, Veltman has taken over the right-back slot.

Tete’s exclusion from the starting eleven has been the most surprising for fans of Ajax with the youngster barely putting a foot wrong last season, and building a reputation as one of Europe’s most talented young right-backs. Whenever Tete has featured he has looked superior to Veltman in most aspects of the role, with the youngster more attack orientated, quicker and a better tackler.

However, Bosz remains unmoved and if Tete is to appear on Wednesday it will have to be from the bench.

Heiko Westermann

Age: 33 Nationality: German

The former Hamburg and Schalke centre-back was signed in the summer on a free transfer to add some experience to the Ajax defence. However, some poor early showings have proved that the veteran is past his prime and he has only been used sparingly by Bosz over the campaign.

He has only made eight appearances this season and is likely to start on the bench against Manchester United, in what is likely to be his final game at Ajax.

Midfield

Lasse Schone

Age: 30 Nationality: Danish

The veteran of this Ajax side, Schone seemed on his way out of Ajax after falling out of favour at the start of the season, but he has played his way back into Bosz’s plans and has been rejuvenated in a deeper role.

Schone provides much-needed cover to the Ajax defence but is also an excellent passer of the ball and a threat from set pieces, whatever the distance. Earlier this season he hammered a free kick into the top corner from thirty yards, only minutes into the derby with Feyenoord.

The Dane has played in eleven Europa League matches this season and has proven pivotal with his experience. Some Ajax fans have called on Schone to be dropped for Donny van de Beek after a few lethargic performances towards the end of the season, but Bosz is likely to stick with his more experienced midfielder going into such a crucial game.

Hakim Ziyech

Age:24 Nationality: Moroccan

Ajax splashed out £9 million on the midfielder from FC Twente in the summer and that has proved to be an absolute bargain with Ziyech’s movement, vision and passing ability a huge reason that the club have reached the final.

The Moroccan is an expert in finding space in the middle of the pitch and he is the man Ajax look to in order to unlock an opponent’s defence. Ziyech has provided 20 assists and 12 goals this season, with five assists and two goals coming in the Europa League. He likes to take a shot from distance and is Ajax’s main set piece taker.

Many people see Ziyech as Ajax’s biggest weapon and if Manchester United allow him any space around the box, he is likely to punish them.

Davy Klaassen

Age:24 Nationality: Dutch

After coming through the Ajax academy, Klaassen will fulfil a lifelong dream of his by captaining Ajax in a European final and he could be the man lifting the trophy in Stockholm.

The Dutch international has had an excellent season, scoring 20 times in all competitions while contributing two assists. Two of those goals came in the 2-0 win over Schalke in the quarter-final first leg, and Klaassen has a reputation for netting in crucial games over the past few years.

While he is primarily a number ten, linking up play around the opposition box, Klaassen is so versatile that he can fill many roles around the pitch, often drops deeper to help out his defence. He is not quick, but Klaassen makes up for that by being an excellent reader of the game and often pops up in the perfect place to score.

A leader on the pitch and a talented number 10, Klaassen could be playing his final Ajax game on Wednesday with a move to the Premier League being mooted. Don’t bet against him being the key man for Ajax.

Donny van de Beek

Age: 20 Nationality: Dutch

Another hugely talented academy graduate who has featured prominently for Ajax in the league and in Europe this season, van de Beek has often been Bosz’s alternative to Schone.

A creative holding midfielder, van de Beek often drops deep to collect the ball and dictate the tempo of Ajax’s attacks. He is also a fine tackler and has a sweet right foot, which curled efforts against the bar in both the quarter-final against Schalke and the semi-final against Lyon.

Bosz is likely to start with Schone in the midfield due to his experience, but expect to see the Oranje u21 international in the second half in order to change the run of play.

Abdelhak Nouri

Age: 20 Nationality: Dutch

The gem of the Ajax academy over recent years, Nouri is finally knocking on the first team’s door after a wonderful campaign with Jong Ajax which saw him named the Eerste Divisie player of the year.

Born and raised in Amsterdam, the attacking midfielder is being touted as the long-term successor to Davy Klaassen in the first team, and many believe he is more technically gifted than the Ajax captain. Nouri is an excellent passer, a dead ball master, and while the youngster may be small in size, he is hard to knock off the ball when he decides to dribble forward. His game is similar in some ways to Wesley Sneijder, and if he keeps developing then Ajax have another potential world class talent on their hands.

He has featured in three Europa League games this season, but is unlikely to appear from the bench against Manchester United, with Bosz preferring van de Beek in order to switch-up the midfield. However, Nouri is set to be big player next season, especially if Klaassen departs.

Frenkie de Jong

Age: 20 Nationality: Dutch

Ajax snatched the midfielder from Willem II in 2015, and while he has spent most of the season playing in the Eerste Divisie, De Jong has made impressive cameo’s from the bench.

A midfielder with excellent technique, De Jong keeps the play moving forward and can pick a pass from anywhere on the pitch. He scored six times for Jong Ajax and added eight assists which was enough to earn him the young player of the year award in the Dutch second division.

Next season is set to be his major breakthrough, but he will be on the bench on Wednesday and can make a big impression if given the chance.

Wingers

Bertrand Traore

Age: 21 Nationality: Burkinabé

The Chelsea attacker played under Peter Bosz with Vitesse Arnhem and the coach urged Ajax to sign him on loan after Arkaduisz Milik left for Napoli. He was supposed to be the first choice striker, but the emergence of Dolberg has seen Traore move to the right-wing.

The 21-year-old has been frustrating to watch at times this season, especially in the Europa League, but there is no doubt that his pace, dribbling and strength are a big asset for Ajax. He has netted 13 times and added six assists this season, but its Traore’s decision making and final product which needs to improve the most. He has been guilty of missing several chances this season, especially in the quarter-final against Schalke, where he was presented with chance after chance but was led down by poor finishing.

On his day he is a big handful, and Traore will be eager to impress against an English side in order to convince his parent side Chelsea that he can make it in the Premier League.

Amin Younes

Age: 23 Nationality: German

Like Traore, Younes has been a frustrating watch for Ajax fans in the Eredivisie, with the German finally netting his first league goal of the season in the 21st week. However, in the Europa League, the 23-year-old has been excellent.

The pint-sized winger has been the dribbling master in the competition, completing 73 take on’s in the competition which is more than any other player. He has also contributed four goals and four assists in the run to the final, including the assist to Dolberg in the semi-final 2nd leg which got them the crucial away goal.

Ajax will look to get Younes on the ball and let him run at the United defence. He is hard to stop when he gets in his stride but needs to be clinical with his crossing and shooting if Ajax are to triumph.

Justin Kluivert

Age: 18 Nationality: Dutch

The son of Ajax legend Patrick Kluivert, Justin started the season in Ajax’s U19’s but his performances impressed Bosz so much that he was handed his first team debut against PEC Zwolle in January. Since then Kluivert hasn’t looked back with 20 appearances, scoring twice and providing five assists.

The 18-year-old is a very different player from his father, who was a tall, strong striker, with Justin a small speedy winger with a bag of tricks and no shortage of confidence. He has featured on both wings so far this season and bases his playing style on his hero Cristiano Ronaldo.

He is likely to start on the bench against Manchester United but is still determined to emulate his father, who scored the only goal in Ajax’s Champions League win over AC Milan in 1995. The club’s last major European trophy.

David Neres

Age: 20 Nationality: Brazilian

Ajax aren’t known for their big money purchases but they splashed out over £10 million to sign Neres from São Paulo in January, despite the youngster only making a handful of appearances for the Brazilian side’s first team.

Neres took a while to get going in Amsterdam, but featured prominently in the final five league games of the season, and showed why the club spent so much money on him. Like Kluivert and Younes, he is a small winger with excellent dribbling skills and bags of confidence. He ended the season with three goals and three assists and will play a big part for the club next season with Traore on his way back to Chelsea and Younes linked with a move to Germany.

Strikers

Kasper Dolberg

Age: 19 Nationality: Danish

The Danish sensation has made himself a name around Europe after a stellar first season in the Ajax eleven, in which he has netted 23 goals, including six in the Europa League.

Dolberg is everything you would expect an Ajax striker to be, with sublime technique, excellent dribbling ability and a deadly finish in the box. He makes scoring goals look easy at times but also links the play around him, which has seen him compared with Ajax legend Dennis Bergkamp.

He scored in both legs of the semi-final with Lyon and if he gets a chance against Manchester United in the final expect him to take it emphatically. There is a reason the world’s biggest clubs are all lining up to sign Dolberg and Ajax will have a challenge keeping him beyond the summer, but first, he is aiming to fire Ajax to glory. Be warned Manchester United, Dolberg is coming for you.

Mateo Cassierra

Age: 20 Nationality: Colombian

Ajax signed the young forward from Deportivo Cali after Arkaduisz Milik left, but Cassierra has struggled for first team appearances due to the form of Dolberg up front. He has mainly had to settle for matches in Ajax’s reserve side, scoring eleven times in 17 Eerste Divisie matches.

A tall, slim and pacey forward, Cassierra has a big future in Amsterdam but may need to be patient in order to get his chances.




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