The latest wonder-kid to take Ajax and Dutch football by storm is nineteen-year-old Riechedly Bazoer. Michael Bell provides a profile of the youngster.

bazoer ajajajNetherlands national team is heading for a revolution after failing to qualify for the European Championships next summer and staking his claim for a place in Danny Blind’s midfield is Ajax youngster Riechedly Bazoer.

Profile

Born in Utrecht, Bazoer started his career with USV Elinkwijk before being picked up by PSV in 2006. Bazoer rose rapidly through the youth ranks in Eindhoven as a centre back, with his height and build seeing him playing regularly with players above his age group and excelling. However Bazoer began to get frustrated in Eindhoven as he wished to continue his career as a midfielder, while PSV stayed insistent that the talent’s career lay in the defence.

Manchester City came close to signing the youngster, who visited the English club and spoke with Patrick Viera and Sergio Aguero, but eventually the player’s mother persuaded Bazoer to stay in the Netherlands, and PSV’s bitter rivals Ajax swooped.

The decision to swap PSV for Ajax gained headlines in the Netherlands, but instead of being fazed Bazoer knuckled down and continued his rapid development in Amsterdam. Starting in the U19’s, a 16-year-old Bazoer rose quickly to the Jong Ajax side in the Eerste Divisie. Despite his tender age Bazoer shone in his first season in professional football and it was obvious that he wouldn’t have to wait too long for a chance in the first team.

The chance finally came last December when Bazoer was brought on for his Eredivisie debut in the 5-0 win over Willem II, and the youngster hasn’t looked back since. In the second half of the campaign Bazoer was an undoubted starter as he ousted Thulani Serero, and although Ajax lost their title to PSV, the 18-year-old midfielder was one of their shining lights. One of the highlights was Bazoer’s performance against former club PSV, with the midfielder putting in an excellent performance in a 3-1 win despite being subjected to abuse from the home fans who branded him a traitor.

So far this season Ajax have been the team to beat and currently lead the Eredivisie after ten rounds. Bazoer’s inclusion in the midfield alongside Nemanja Gudelj and Davy Klaassen has been one of the key reasons behind Ajax’s success so far, and the midfielder earned his first call-up to the Netherlands national team for the qualifiers against Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic earlier this month; although he failed to make his debut.

Favoured position

Bazoer’s future lies as a defensive midfielder, but he has often been played in a more offensive role in midfield by Frank de boer, who looked to use his explosive runs to kick-start attacks. Bazoer is very flexible and often switches position throughout a game with Davy Klaassen, and if needed to can also slot into the centre of defence.

Strength’s and weaknesses

Bazoer’s is exceptionally strong for his age and his big frame make him an imposing figure in the centre of the midfield. He excels in winning the ball back and using his strength and agility to breeze past opponents, much like Patrick Viera, who Bazoer has been compared to on several occasions.

His control, passing ability and dribbling skills on the ball are top rate, while his awareness off the ball is also excellent.

Bazoer doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses but he often likes a shot from distance without much success. In 10 league games so far this season Bazoer only has one goal.

Key Quotes

Frank de Boer: “He is so talented. I see him as a major force in the future of Ajax and Dutch football.”

Frank de Boer: “I was just saying to Dennis (Bergkamp) he plays so free and uninhibited. He is so fast and powerful.”

Fons Groendijk (former Ajax youth coach): “I see him as the Patrick Vieira of Ajax.”

Bazoer (via UEFA): “I believe in myself and I’m not afraid of anybody. [Patrick Vieira] was calm on the ball, physically strong and technically proficient. These are qualities I can also develop.”

What does the future hold

The future looks really bright for Bazoer as he continues to impress for Ajax, and he will be hoping to lead them to the Eredivisie title this season. He is tied down in Amsterdam until 2020, but the big club’s are starting to circle with Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all reportedly scouting the youngster and a move abroad seems inevitable.

Danny Blind will soon name his Netherlands squad for the friendlies with Wales and Germany next month, and Oranje fans will be itching to see Bazoer make his debut and add spark to a midfield which has been flat without Kevin Strootman.

Bazoer looks like the real deal, and he should follow in the footsteps of Frank Rijkaard, Clarence Seedorf and more recently Wesley Sneijder to become a key member of Ajax and Netherlands midfield for years to come.




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