A versatile defender with endless talent, Jairo Riedewald is a superstar in the making for both Ajax and the Dutch national team.

  • By Michael Bell
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Riedewald began his career with amateur side SV Overbos but impressed watching Ajax scouts, who brought the youngster into their academy at the age of eleven. After six years of working his way through the ranks, Riedewald made his league debut for the first team as a late substitute in a tie with Roda JC. Ajax were losing the game when Riedewald came on at full back, but two goals from the youngster turned the game around and made the 17-year-old an instant hero with the Amsterdam crowd.

Riedewald showed his versatility by playing at left back, right back and in the centre of midfield for Frank de Boer, but was made a first choice in his preferred position of centre back at the start of last season. The partnership with Joel Veltman was excellent and Riedewald was a standout for the club, before an ankle injury ruled him out for two months at the end of the campaign. His form for Ajax also alerted Netherlands national team and Danny Blind handed Riedewald his debut in the 3-0 defeat against Turkey last September, the first of three caps.

Style of play

Riedewald can play anywhere in the defence and is also strong in the number six role, where he was deployed in the Champions League qualifier against PAOK by new Ajax boss Peter Bosz. The 19-year-old is a strong defender but also has excellent composure on the ball and great distribution. He was likened to Ajax great Frank Rijkaard by Frank de Boer last season and there are definite similarities between the two.

What can we expect from Riedewald this season

It’s set to be a big year for Riedewald with Ajax determined to win their first title in three years and Netherlands beginning their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup. The youngster will play a big role with both, but it is uncertain which position Riedewald will be deployed in. He is a natural centre back, but Riedewald was outstanding in midfield against PAOK and most Ajax fans would like to see him continue his development as a DM.

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