An ever-present last season, Donny van de Beek finds his place at Ajax under threat and he heads into the new campaign with something to prove.

  • By Michael Bell
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A product of the De Toekomst Academy, van de Beek, who gained the nickname Maradonny as a youngster, has been a feature in the Ajax first team since making his debut aged 17 in a Europa League clash against Celtic back in 2015. The following season, van de Beek switched between the first team and Jong Ajax but appeared in 10 of their Europa League games on route to the final.

Last summer, Davy Klaassen’s departure opened up a spot in the starting line-up for van de Beek and he grabbed it with both hands. Ajax would fail to win the title once again, finishing second behind PSV, but van de Beek’s performances were excellent, with the midfielder starting all but one Eredivisie game, scoring 11 goals and contributing six assists. He was rewarded for his form with a Netherlands call-up and he now has four caps for the national team.

Heading into the new season, van de Beek turned down a move to AS Roma in order to remain in Amsterdam for at least another year. He started the first leg of the Champions League qualifier against Sturm Graz, but was benched for the second and the tie with Standard Liege with Erik ten Hag preferring Lasse Schone over the 20-year-old.

Van de Beek has reacted angrily to being benched and has hinted at a departure, “I am not satisfied with this role, it is also up to me, I always have to give everything and continue to do my best as long as I am here.

“You talk about the situation with your agent. I can now have tough talks, but I just have to do my best, and then we’ll see what’s going to happen. With this role I am not satisfied, but it is up to me to show something else. “

Ajax will be hoping that they can convince van de Beek to remain at the club with only a few weeks left of the transfer window remaining.

Style of Play

Van de Beek is a technically gifted box-to-box midfielder who can also be deployed as a DM or even a number ten.

An excellent dribbler, Van de Beek is very strong on the ball and rarely loses possession. He also has great vision and a passing range expected of a midfielder from the Ajax academy.

At the back, van de Beek is a determined tackler who would put his body on the line for the club and works tirelessly to regain possession. He is also a big threat at the other end with good finishing ability with strikes from distance.

Van de Beek isn’t particularly quick, but his reading of the game and awareness of space means he is rarely caught out of position or left behind during attacks.

What to expect from Van de Beek this season

Erik ten Hag has so many talented midfielders to choose from this season and sadly for van de Beek it appears that he is the one sacrificed at this stage of the campaign. The 20-year-old was excellent last season for club and country and his exclusion is a strange one, especially with Lasse Schone not impressing.

If Ajax can convince van de Beek to stay he should quickly gain his place back in the midfield from either Schone or Hakim Ziyech, if the Moroccan finally gets a move away.

Van de Beek is, along with Frenkie de Jong, one of Netherlands most promising young midfielders and the duo playing together regularly this season could be exceptional for not only Ajax but the national team going forward.

Michael Bell (59 Posts)