For all the talk of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie De Jong, you’d be forgiven for thinking Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals with just two players in their side.
No doubt the duo were huge players for them, but one man who seemingly flew under the radar was Donny van de Beek – the man who opened the scoring against us in the first leg of our tie. But, if reports are to be believed, we could be in for the multi-talented Dutchman this summer.
According to The Times, Mauricio Pochettino sees the midfielder as one of the men who could take the club to the ‘next level’, and could be a potential long-term replacement for Christian Eriksen. Though predominantly someone who can operate from deeper in midfield or even in a box-to-box role, he showed in both legs of our semi-final tie against Ajax that he has a real knack for getting into goal-scoring positions and being able to pick out a pass in the final third.
Creativity from deeper in midfield is something we’re really lacking in. Harry Winks has been impressive, but the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier offer far different traits on the pitch. Having a partnership of van de Beek and Winks would mean we keep hold of the ball much better, and get it into our attackers much quicker. Far too often, we’ve relied on Eriksen to come deep from the number 10 role to set the play up, but with the Ajax star in our midfield, we’d have a different string to our bow.
Valued at £22.5m by Transfermarkt, the Dutchman was earmarked for success from an early age, with Dennis Bergkamp particularly excited over the youngster whilst he was in charge of Ajax’s youth team. When Frank de Boer became the Dutch side’s first-team boss, he said (via the Daily Mail): “Dennis started talking enthusiastically about a talent in his youth team. It was a boy who reminded Dennis of himself at that age. That was the signal for me to keep an eye on that guy. That was Donny.”
If Van de Beek can turn out to enjoy the kind of career Bergkamp had on the other half of north London, then we really could have one of the best players in the world on our hands.