Richairo Zivkovic’s career has stalled since he joined Ajax in 2014 but the young striker heads into the new campaign eager to fulfill his potential.

  • By Michael Bell
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After starting his career with amateur club FVV Foxhol, Zivkovic was quickly spotted by scouts and Groningen swooped to bring the talent to the Euroborg. The striker rapidly rose through the youth teams at Groningen and in 2012, at the age of 16 he made his first team debut as a late substitute against Heracles, making him the youngest player to ever represent the club. He scored his first goal in the Eredivisie in August 2013 and was attracting scouts from all over Europe to the Euroborg to watch him in action, including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

After netting twelve times in 37 league games for Groningen, Zivkovic was snapped up by Ajax and was expected to quickly establish himself in Amsterdam and confirm his status as the Netherlands next big striker. That seemed to be happening when Zivkovic scored on his first team debut in a 4-0 cup win over SV Urk, but coach Frank de Boer was not impressed by the youngster’s attitude and he spent most of the season playing with the U21’s in the Eerste Divisie.

Last summer Zivkovic wasn’t part of De Boer’s plans, despite a lack of strikers, and was loaned to Willem II in order to earn first team minutes in the Eredivisie. Again, Zivkovic failed to impress, scoring only twice in 16 league matches for the club before his loan spell was cut short in January, due to more questions over his attitude. On his return to Ajax, Zivkovic was sent back to Jong Ajax, scoring six times in the Eerste Divisie before the end of the season.

This summer Peter Bosz took charge in Amsterdam and Zivkovic was given a chance early in pre-season and the 19-year-old looked in good form. However, he was dropped for a friendly in Austria and immediately stated he wanted to leave the club, with Utrecht reportedly interested in signing the youngster on loan. A move has yet to materialise and Zivkovic was overlooked for 18-year-old Kasper Dolberg as Ajax drew the first leg of their Champions League qualifier with PAOK. Despite Arkaduisz Milik’s move to Napoli, Zivkovic’s Ajax career seems to be coming to an end.

Style of play

Zivkovic has all the attributes of a top centre forward. When he broke into the Groningen first team two years ago he impressed with his speed, strength, dribbling skills and composure in front of goal.

However, since joining Ajax, Zivkovic has lost all his confidence and looks a shade of the player that was tipped for greatness. Time is still on the 19-year-old’s side but he needs to find his form quickly to prove he is capable of fulfilling his potential.

What can we expect from Zivkovic this season

Zivkovic is still a massive talent, but needs to find his confidence and a club willing to give him the opportunities he needs in the Eredivisie. If Ajax decide the striker is not in their plans then a loan or permanent move away from Amsterdam is crucial to get his career back on track.

Its a big year for Zivkovic, but its set to begin with a lot of uncertainty over his future.

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