Last season saw the rise to prominence of Eredivisie stars such as Memphis Depay, Terence Kongolo and Davy Klaassen. Will new Ajax star Daley Sinkgraven be the breakout star of 2014/15? 

  • By Michael Statham
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0000 daleyAt the young age of 19, Sinkgraven holds so much ability. His recent €6,5 million move from Heerenveen to the Eredivisie champions shows how much potential he has.

After only starting five games in the whole of last season the midfielder broke into the Heerenveen first team after the departure of Hakim Ziyech and starred in 20 games for the Frisians, scoring four goals before moving to Amsterdam. His finest game thus far arguably came against leaders PSV. Heerenveen beat the table toppers 1-0, thanks to a goal from the midfielder, who dispatched a pass from teammate Luciano Slagveer with consummate ease. His creativity, dribbling and direct style of play causing his opponents problems all afternoon. He is a skillful player who loves to keep the ball at his feet before unleashing a pass or a cross, often disguising what he will do next with the ball until the last moment.

Whilst primarily a central midfielder, Sinkgraven can play out on the left-wing but usually he will find himself hanging by the side of the pitch even when deployed in the centre of the park. He enjoys taking the ball on in the wing position before either coming inside to take advantage of the space in the middle of the pitch or running at the full-back down the touchline.

However the youngster is far from the finished article. One example of his youthfulness was Heerenveen’s 2-2 draw at Zwolle earlier in the season when he was a little suspect defensively, perhaps disregarding this part of the game. Another example was in December, Heerenveen may have won 2-0 at NAC Breda, but Sinkgraven gave the ball away far too easily. His old manager, Dwight Lodeweges, said after the game that his player “was frustrated with himself”. That said, all footballers have their off days. Lodeweges has been also keen to mention Sinkgraven “learns quickly the things that he’s not good at doing,” which is now clear to see in more recent weeks where the midfielder has improved his defensive side of the game. He is becoming more comfortable playing as a deep-lying playmaker who is more used to tackling and reading the game well to cut out passes from the opposition. This also favours his direct carrying of the ball as he can take on the opposing midfielders from deep to make the most of counter-attacks for his side, his stamina and pace coming to the fore.

In an interview with RTV Drenthe last year, he has stated that his dream is to play for Barcelona. He knows to get there he has to “give 100% in each and every training session” and has also shown his feet are firmly on the ground when saying “you can’t go from Heerenveen to Barcelona without taking a stepping stone,” hence his move to Ajax. He’ll hope to follow in the footsteps of fellow Dutchmen Johan Cruijff, Patrick Kluivert and even his new manager Frank De Boer in playing for both Ajax and Barcelona. De Boer will look to take Sinkgraven under his wing, saying of him, “Daley is a player with football sense, both on attack and defence. As a left-winger, he played in his own way, but he can play left offence or controlling.”

The starlet made his debut for Ajax starting in the narrow home defeat to AZ. This was a difficult game to judge him in as Ajax were missing key players and played most of the game with ten man. Although Sinkgraven had a relatively quiet evening, he grew into the game and had a decent chance to draw the game for the Amsterdammers, taking a long ball down on his chest before unleashing a shot in the area which narrowly missed the target. Despite his lukewarm first appearance in an Ajax shirt and another low key performance against Go Ahead Eagles at the weekend, De Boer thinks Sinkgraven will soon be a key player for the club.

Frank De Boer’s side have purchased a very exciting young talent. He will be around to savour in the Eredivisie for a couple of years yet, while attempting to earn his dream move to Barcelona, hoping in the meantime to set the Dutch top flight alight and earn a place in the Oranje national team.

Michael Statham (818 Posts)

Writer/interviewer/YouTuber for Football-Oranje. Massive Dutch football fan from the UK. Follow me @EredivisieMike & subscribe to Football-Oranje on YouTube.