Ajax of Amsterdam are dangerously close to falling into that hideous category of being the new “Hipster” club after some devastating displays in the Champions League this season.
Not since Cruyff, Neeskens and Rep back in 74 has Holland had a side they can be truly proud of and whilst its hardly likely that this new generation of stars will be found cavorting in a hot-tub with beautiful women whilst smoking pot like their 70’s counterparts, one thing that is certain is that come the end of the season, Erik ten Hag’s supremely talented squad will be broken up.
Central midfielder Frenkie de Jong is already on his way to Barcelona for the 2019-20 campaign and some of his highly-rated team-mates are set to follow him out of the door at the Johan Cruyff ArenA.
Let’s now take a look at some possible destinations for some of ten Hag’s biggest hitters.
Donny van de Beek to Manchester United
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder who grabbed the decisive goal against Spurs on Tuesday is currently under contract at Ajax until 2022. With Paul Pogba reportedly ready to leave Old Trafford this summer, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could do worse than set his sights on this gem of a player who has a passing resemblance to a young Jimmy Somerville.
United are likely to score around £80m for Pogba and that would be more than enough to bring van de Beek to the Theatre of Dreams with some change to help further strengthen the squad (see point five).
The Red Devils are crying out for a Paul Scholes type player to link the midfield and the forwards so Ed Woodward, if you’re reading this, get the cheque book out and write £35m in the amount column today.
Nicolas Tagliafico to Arsenal
I’ll come straight to the point; Arsenal’s defence needs a complete overhaul and has done so for about five years, so what better place to go shopping than Amsterdam for Argentine left-back Nicolas Tagliafico.
Gunners fans are fed up of seeing second-rate players like Stephan Lichtsteiner rack up in North London for a final payday and the 26-year-old Tagliafico is surely an upgrade on irritatingly inconsistent Sead Kolasinac.
Just like van de Beek, Tagliafico is under contract until 2022, so Gunners boss Unai Emery should strike whilst the iron is hot and submit a £25m bid this summer.
Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea
Italian giants AS Roma had the chance to take the 26-year-old Moroccan right-winger last summer but opted instead for his Ajax team-mate Justin Kluivert who can only sit back and dream about what could have been had he listened to his dad Patrick.
The Ziyech ship has well and truly sailed as far as the Giallorossi are concerned, as other suitors start vying for his signature.
Chelsea could net over £100m from Real Madrid for Eden Hazard this summer and if owner Roman Abramovich is fed up of chucking his cash around in the (ultimately futile) quest to reel in both Liverpool and Manchester City, at around £25m, Ziyech offers great value and although he’s not at the level of Hazard (and let’s be honest, not many are), at 26 years old his best seasons are still ahead of him.
Matthijs de Ligt to Manchester City
To captain your side at just 19 means you are a special player and Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt is exactly that. Europe’s heavyweight clubs are queuing up to grab his signature this summer and one of those is understood to be Manchester City.
The way that boss Pep Guardiola has now turned John Stones into an accomplished international defender should serve as notice to the young Dutchman who has already played 15 times for his country at senior level. The youngster is currently under contract until 2021, but Ajax are resigned to losing him at the end of the current campaign.
It will probably take an offer in excess of £70m to secure his services and then it will be up to the player and his agent, former Dutch international Barry Hulshoff, who they see as the best club to help turn him into (probably) the best centre-half in world football.
David Neres to Manchester United
It’s blindingly obvious to all Manchester United fans that Marcus Rashford wants to be the club’s number nine. The England international is growing frustrated at being pushed out to the right-wing to allow Romelu Lukaku to spend most of his time being caught offside whilst leading the line.
If, as reports suggest, the big Belgian is ready to move to Serie A this summer and join Inter Milan, then United would do worse than consider a move for Ajax star David Neres. The 22-year-old Brazilian is far from being the finished article, but his potential arrival would keep Rashford happy with Barcelona reportedly ready to try to tempt him to the Camp Nou this summer.
£35m would probably do the trick with Neres, who is tied down in Amsterdam (and let’s be honest, many of us have been) until 2022.