Is it finally time for the white-red-white juggernaut to be halted or will the Amsterdam side power their way to an unprecedented 5th Eredivisie title? 

  • By Priya Ramesh
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ajakndAs far as the Eredivisie goes, Frank de Boer has already carved his niche on the wall of fame, becoming the first Ajax trainer ever to win 4 Eredivisie titles consecutively. But to win it a mindblowing 5 times? That would definitely be something that transcends ‘special’, but with the youngest squad of his era so far, the ex-Barcelona and Ajax player should be aware it will not be a piece of cake.


Ajax have gone about their job quietly but efficiently this summer, with regards to arrivals. Bringing in Nick Viergever, Richairo Zivkovic, Robert Muric – after a lengthy work permit application process – and striker Arek Milik on loan with an option to buy. Having lacked a very good striker in recent seasons, they seem to have taken it into consideration and strengthened that, though it would be beneficial for Ajax to perhaps use a bit more of Zivkovic than what has been observed over pre-season. The acquisition of Viergever is slightly weird, considering Ajax don’t need much reinforcement in the centre of defence – his natural position. It does make sense when you consider the fact that Frank de Boer listed Moisander along with Siem de Jong in his list of most likely departures this summer, back in January. A foresight that has not come true has seen Viergever being converted into a defensive midfielder, a backup of Daley Blind and also a deputy for centreback and leftback positions.

It is almost inevitable that at least one key player leaves Ajax in any summer window and this summer has seen the departure of a loyal son of Ajax in captain Siem de Jong – the boy who grew into the man who won the title for Ajax back in 2011 and played a crucial role in all of their triumphs. Crucially, except the last one. Having spent the majority of the season on the sidelines but still being able to generate foreign interest has possibly worked to the benefit of both Ajax and the player – for once. Relatively uninvolved last season, Ajax are now, fully capable of functioning and winning without Siem and Siem has earned the step up a player of his caliber probably needs at this juncture of his career. Davy Klaassen – the inheritor of his #10 shirt number – will be more than ready to keep his starting spot and take on more responsibility, as a senior player this season (still only 21) and a leader on field. There have been no other significant departures from Amsterdam, though Sigthorsson seems to be oscillating to and fro rumours with QPR and a top club could yet offer Ajax’s starting price of 20 million euros for World Cup star Daley Blind.


Ajax’s pre-season has gone extremely well, with the defending Eredivisie champions winning all their matches – the opposition including the likes of Benfica and Real Sociedad -, other than one draw vs Aalborg and a 3-4 loss for the 2nd string vs Benfica reserves.

Arek Milik found the net on a regular basis while Davy Klaassen, Kishna, Viergever and Andersen looked good too, but the pre-season revelation was 19-year-old Anwar El Ghazi. The ex-Sparta youngster netted 8 times in just around 150 minutes of playing time. The loan of Lesly de Sa to Go Ahead Eagles opened up a spot in the squad for this promising winger to get more minutes.

Strongest XI: Cillessen; van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Boilesen; Klaassen, Blind, Andersen/Serero; Schone, Milik, Fischer.

But considering the long-term injuries to van Rhijn and Fischer, in the current context, the strongest XI would have Ligeon and Kishna instead of those two respectively.

Key Players

Daley Blind

This goes without saying. The Eredivisie Player of the Year incumbent had a stellar World Cup, used in a host of positions and capped it off with his first international goal vs hosts Brazil. Blind’s absence on field was seen in the Johan Cruijff schaal vs PEC, where Mokotjo dominated the middle of the park way too easily in transition after Viergever – a decent deputy – was taken off injured. Ajax and Overmars will have learnt from lessons of Eriksen and Vertonghen and have slapped hefty prices on all of their main assets – Blind being the most valuable one obviously, as Manchester United – who would do well with a defensive midfielder of his calibre in their 3-4-1-2 – circle over him.

Davy Klaassen

The Eredivisie’s Young Player of the Year last season as well as Ajax’s Talent of the Year, Klaassen was quite the breakthrough star last season, emerging a vital cog in midfield with his dynamism and work rate as well as his eye for goal. A midfielder in his #10 predecessor, Siem de Jong’s mould, Klaassen will be looking to be more influential in creating goals too this season as well as aiming for greater things personally.

Young Player to Watch – Ricardo Kishna

In the absence of Viktor Fischer due to his prolonged hamstring injury layoff, Kishna – who burst onto the first team scene last season – is assured to be the first choice left winger. An explosive dribbler with pace, control and a decent shot, Kishna is definitely a great prospect, having been likened to pre-midfield-magic Angel di Maria, though this may be a bit premature. He has been said to have had attitude problems in the past but seems to be brimming with only confidence and motivation at the moment, even saying that this will be ‘his season’. If it does, he will certainly join the list of wonderfully promising young Dutch left wingers – a breed that certainly does not seem to be dying.


Ajax have started on a shaky foot, losing the Johan Cruijff schaal to their bogey team PEC, but how many times already have we seen Ajax stumble at the get-go in the league but characteristically finish on a high? The losses in the summer window this year – so far at least – have not been as significant as years gone by and key areas such as the strikeforce have been seemingly sufficiently addressed. With Feyenoord experiencing a mass exodus of integral starters and Twente and Vitesse losing key players in Dusan Tadic and Christian Atsu as well as Lucas Piazon and Pat van Aanholt respectively, Ajax’s only real threat seems to come from PSV, who still face the challenge of keeping Memphis Depay at the club for the coming season. There are yet weaknesses to this Ajax side – most significantly the lack of a proper Plan B -, but the quality in their ranks should be enough to see them challenge for the title til the very end – if not of course, win it, which is what is naturally expected of them.

Predicted table position: 1st

Priya Ramesh (5 Posts)

Freelance Dutch football writer, suffering student, unique mixture of calcium, water, collagen and iron.