After two goals for Ajax in the Champions League qualifiers this season, Donny van de Beek is already proving to be the perfect replacement for Davy Klaassen.

  • By Michael Bell
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After a spell in the academy of Veensche Boys, where his father played, van de Beek joined the Ajax academy in 2008. He progressed rapidly through the youth teams alongside his friend Abdelhak Nouri and the two terrorised sides with Ajax and the Dutch national team. Van de Beek was part of the Oranje U17 side that finished runners up in the 2014 European Championships.

In January of 2015, Van de Beek made his professional debut with Jong Ajax in the Eerste Divisie and after another five appearances in the Dutch second tier, the midfielder was named talent of the future at the end of the season. The following season, van de Beek made his first team debut in the Europa League tie with Celtic, and Frank de Boer rewarded the youngster with his Eredivisie bow just three days later. He played most of the season with Jong Ajax, but made 14 appearances in the first team, scoring once.

Last season the midfielder was permanently promoted to the first team and under new coach Peter Bosz he made 32 appearances, including 10 in the Europa League as Ajax reached the final. The midfielder earned plaudits for his performances and was rewarded with his first three caps for Netherlands U21’s.

After the departure of Davy Klaassen to Everton this summer, Van de Beek has been selected as the first choice replacement for the midfielder and has already proved his worth by netting in both the first and second legs of their Champions League qualifier with OGC Nice.

Style of play

Van de Beek is a complete and versatile midfielder who can play as a DM, number eight or in the number ten position. The 20-year-old’s incredible technique and intelligence mean he can do almost anything with the ball at his feet. As a DM, he can drop deep and dictate play from the back, while in a more attacking role he is adept at finding space around the box and can also dribble past opponents with ease. He is remarkably calm in possession for someone so young and likes to shoot from distance with his sweet right foot.

What to expect from van de Beek this season

It has been a difficult summer personally for van de Beek after his best friend Abdelhak Nouri suffered brain damage during pre-season. However, the midfielder has already shown his importance to new Ajax boss Marcel Keizer with his performances against Nice. He will look to replace Klaassen as a number 10, but offers Keizer plenty of options and is set to play a key role as Ajax look to battle Feyenoord for the title. There are already calls for van de Beek to be called up to the Dutch national team squad.

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