Although not strictly an Ajax youth product, Dennis Johnsen is certainly one of the biggest talents growing in the Dutch Eredivisie and is one to watch in this campaign.

  • by Michael Statham
  • Follow Michael on Twitter @EredivisieMike


The Norwegian spent his youth with clubs from his homeland – Tromso and Rosenborg – until 2015 when Eredivisie side Heerenveen picked up the exciting talent.

Even though Heerenveen fans heavily anticipated Johnsen to become the latest Scandinavian player to make his name with the Frisians, he never made an appearance for the club. However, it didn’t prevent Ajax noticing Johnsen’s ability and in the summer of 2017 the winger signed for the Dutch giants for a contract until 2021.

Last season, Johnsen made a good impression with Jong Ajax (Ajax’s second team) as they won the Dutch Eerste Divisie. Along the way, the winger bagged seven goals and eight assists from 27 matches. Unfortunately, that only earnt Johnsen five minutes from two Eredivisie appearances, mainly down to the form of Justin Kluivert and Amin Younes failing to leave the club in January.

That said, Johnsen is now in consideration for Norway’s U21s and is likely to be part of the squads again in this campaign.

Style of Play

Johnsen is a left-winger who uses his right-foot to cut inside and cause havoc in the penalty area. The 20-year-old is direct and most dangerous when running at the opposition because he chooses to use his excellent close control of the football to do any of the following:

  • Take the ball out wide and use his pace to beat the defender for a chipped ball into the box
  • Take on the opposing defender and either beat them or find a nearby teammate in the space he has created with his run
  • Cut inside onto his right foot and unleash a curled shot into the corner

In July, at Football-Oranje, we had the chance to interview Johnsen and ask him more about what he thinks about Ajax, his manager Erik Ten Hag and his future with the club (watch here or see below). This came after Ajax’s pre-season defeat to English League One side Walsall and Johnsen was happy to admit his errors in the game despite his positive performance which Ten Hag would have been pleased with. However, Johnsen spoke about ‘losing the ball in the middle of the pitch’ “too many times”. Even though Johnsen can be satisfied with his preparations for the new campaign, he is clear with himself about how he can improve and take his game to the next level. If he can strengthen his game in the middle of the park and help win the ball back more often and also aid the build-up play, he will quickly find himself in first team contention.

What to expect from Johnsen this season

If Johnsen can step up his game, he should find more opportunities with the first team. Making more minutes off the bench will be more beneficial to him than playing another season with the second team.

Johnsen is not interested in a loan move (as suggested in our interview with the player) which arguably would have been better for his development.

It’s a make or break year for the winger. He will have to take any opportunities that come his way. Johnsen has the promise but is he driven enough to break into the Ajax senior squad?

Michael Statham (812 Posts)

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