At the end of the 2017/2018 season, Jong Ajax sealed a 2-1 victory against MVV Maastricht to win the Eerste Divisie, becoming the first reserve team to do so. With two transfer windows and half a season between their title-winning exploits and now, I survey how those in Jong Ajax’s 2017/2018 squad who managed more than twenty appearances are now faring six months down the line.

  • By George Smith
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Léon Bergsma: Jong Ajax’s captain and leader traded Amsterdam for Alkmaar in the summer immediately after the season, leaving the Ajax without making a first-team appearance despite spending his entire youth career there. Since making the switch Bergsma has been mostly confined to Jong AZ in the Eerste Divisie, though the 22-year-old has appeared for the first team briefly a couple of times in the league and the cup.

Danilho Doekhi: Agreed to join Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem, signing a four year deal at the club. Despite initially starting for Vitesse II and then getting sent off at the end of his first league match for the first team, Doekhi has managed a number of further appearances as well as a role in the KNBV cup. However, he has been relatively restrained overall, most recently by a small knock but before that he was suspended again for another red card offence.

Noussair Mazroui: After excelling in the first half of the season, the right sided player was promoted permanently to the first team. Since then he had made great strides and established himself as the sides first choice right back. His goals in the Champions League this season have helped Ajax progress to the knock out stages of the competition for the first time in thirteen years.

Azor Matusiwa: Towards the tail end of the season, Matusiwa’s contribution as a battling midfielder to the title win was impossible to miss. His start to this year, however, has been hampered by injuries and the 20 year old only managed three appearances in the Keuken Kampion Divisie before his six-month loan switch to De Graafschap this month.

Dani de Wit: As one of the standout players in the title winning season, de Wit took over the captains armband after Bergsma’s departure. This season de Wit has been caught between the first and second team, frequently being named on the bench for Ajax but with little prospect of significant game time, while also proving himself too good for the Eerste Divisie. However, a highlight for the midfielder must be appearing as a sub in the Champions League against Bayern Munich – emphasising the clubs trust in the 21 year old.

Zian Flemming: Sealed a free transfer to PEC Zwolle, ending the many years he spent in Amsterdam without a first team appearance. The attacking midfielder has established himself in Zwolle’s overhauled side and is beginning to show the talent that injuries and disruptions often prevented him from doing, albeit contributing fewer goals than during his youth career.

Teun Bijleveld: Despite playing a prominent role in the title winning season, Bijleveld has not moved on or up and remains a key part of the current Jong Ajax side. Though he has become a more senior figure within the side, he has yet to make his first team debut and is not in line to do so any time soon.

Dennis Johnsen: After his breakthrough campaign Johnsen was disappointed not to get any opportunities in the first team. In spite of this, his form continued and after proving he was ready to make a step up over the first half of the season he recently sealed a loan switch back to former club Heerenveen.

Ché Nunnely: Thus far Nunnely has been restricted in his appearances this season despite establishing himself as an important player towards the end of last year. He has only managed to complete a full ninety minutes twice this campaign for Jong Ajax, and is frequently coming off the bench when he does play.

Matteo Cassiera: After his prolific form last term, scoring eighteen goals in the league, the Colombian striker earned a loan move to Groningen with the intent of proving he had a future at Ajax. Any questions the Amsterdammers may have had regarding Cassiera have most likely been answered after a lacklustre first half to the season which saw Groningen cancel his loan prematurely. He is now on loan at Argentinian side Racing Club.

Kaj Sierhuis: Spent the first half of the season as Jong Ajax’s first choice striker, netting four times in thirteen matches, which earned the 20 year old a January loan switch to Eredivisie side Groningen. With Dolberg, Huntelaar, and occasionally Tadić all ahead of him in the pecking order at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, first team chances were limited and Sierhuis will be hoping to impress at the Euroborg in case any of them move on in summer.

The varying fortunes of these young Eerste Divisie champions serve as both positive examples and warnings of what the future may hold in summer for current Jong Ajax players: successfully breaking into an Eredivisie side, languishing in the Eerste divisie with a former rival, or remaining on the fringes of the first team.

George Smith (33 Posts)