With this being the January transfer window, there are a lot of rumors flying around. How trustworthy these rumors are can vary, but it can be safe to say that any involving a winger is always a possibility. With Ajax and French club Lille likely to be completing the transfer of Anwar El Ghazi soon, an additional winger is the most pressing matter for the club. When we look around at the other positions, not many jump out as one that needs major fixing. The left back position has been cause for some concern, with Ajax having accepted a Norwich City bid for Mitchell Dijks (which he turned down) and Daley Sinkgraven trying to adapt to a completely foreign position. And, as always, it would never hurt to add a few new youngsters to the youth setup.
David Neres (São Paulo)
Hailing from the highly-praised youth program of Brazil’s São Paulo, right winger David Neres has been heavily linked with a move to Amsterdam in the last couple weeks. A Brazil Under-20’s international, the 19-year-old broke into São Paulo’s first team in October and went on to make 8 more appearances and score 3 goals. Neres prefers to cut inside on his stronger left foot, allowing him to open up passing lanes to penetrate defenses. Known mostly as a great dribbler, the young winger is also great at completing a high percentage of his passes. These attributes would surely translate to success in Bosz’s high tempo system. Sources state that São Paulo demand €20 million for the winger, a fee that Ajax are definitely going to try to negotiate down. However, the sales of Bazoer and Gudelj for almost €20 million total in this transfer window may make a deal for David Neres feasible for the club.
Brahim Darri (Heracles)
In the previous transfer targets article, I focused on possible winger signings to bulk up Ajax’s attacking power. If the likes of Sam Larsson and Alireza Jahanbakhsh prove to be too expensive for Marc Overmars’ taste, Brahim Darri is a solid option to back up Younes on the left wing. The 22-year-old former Ajax youth product has been one of Heracles’ top performers this season, contributing 2 goals and an assist to the club currently sitting mid-table. He isn’t the most skilled or highest potential Eredivisie player, but would be a welcome addition to the club’s lineup. Darri is still adjusting to the hard-hitting defenses in Holland’s top division, but his flair allows him to make some great dribbles past defenders occasionally. This was a big criticism of Amin Younes before his move to Ajax, that dribbling successfully in youth matches is much different than professional football, but the German has definitely improved since joining the club last season. Brahim Darri is someone I can see improving into a better all-around player after joining Ajax.
Yann Karamoh (Caen)
Touted as a potential French star for the future, 18-year-old right winger Yann Karamoh has been a bright spot in a frustrating season for SM Caen. Karamoh has played on both sides of the attack since being promoted from Caen’s academy this season, but his more traditional play style makes him more comfortable on his stronger right side. This season he has provided 3 goals and 3 assists for a struggling side in Ligue 1, a testament to his successful adjustment to professional football. Karamoh is great at creating just enough space behind his defender to get in a pinpoint cross to a teammate’s boot or head. His abilities are reminiscent of Anwar El Ghazi, so a transfer would be sensible if the latter ends up leaving Amsterdam for pastures anew. Karamoh’s technical abilities, such as short passing and finishing, leave a lot to be desired. However, he has a lot of time to improve these skills as he is still a teenager. Ajax would likely have to dish out a pretty penny to secure the talents of the Ivory Coast-born winger as Caen are battling relegation to France’s second division: an investment that could definitely pay off in the not-so-distant future.
Jeremiah St. Juste (Heerenveen)
Yet another top-level footballer from the youth structure of SC Heerenveen, “Jerry” is an accomplished ball-playing central defender. At only 20 years of age, he’s been a mainstay in the Heerenveen lineup for over a season now, using his superb defending skills to stop the best attackers Holland has to offer. Similar to current Ajax defenders Davinson Sanchez and Jairo Riedewald, St. Juste is great at dribbling out of defense to create chances for his team’s midfielders and attackers. He has even shown glimpses of brilliance higher up the pitch, scoring 2 goals from open play this season. St. Juste has been linked with moves away from Holland previously, but many would concur that using Ajax as a stepping stone to much larger European clubs would be a big help to his development. As seen with players like Daley Sinkgraven, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Miralem Sulejmani, Heerenveen aren’t afraid to ask for a large fee before Ajax can pry away their best players. Overmars may be forced to pay quite a large fee for the possible future of Holland’s back line.
Ridgeciano Haps (AZ)
One of the best players of the Eredivisie this season, AZ’s star 23-year-old left back, Ridgeciano Haps, has become quite a sought-after product. Known for his bombing forward runs, Haps is the definition of a modern all-around defender. His passing may leave a bit to be desired, but he gets into good positions and has the athleticism to track back and defend after helping out the attackers. Haps is definitely one of the main reasons AZ are challenging at the top of the table this year. It is ridiculous to imagine that Haps only became a true 1st team player last season, having spent the 2014/15 season on loan at Go Ahead Eagles. Daley Sinkgraven has adjusted well to the left back position, but adding a defender with the solidness of Ridgeciano would surely ease the pressure on the rest of the back four. Of course, with his emergence as a top Dutch prospect, AZ aren’t going to let Haps go without significant compensation in return.
Ferdi Kadioglu (NEC Nijmegen)
Nutmegs, quick turns, and great technique are all things on display when watching 17-year-old N.E.C. midfielder Ferdi Kadioglu. Capable of playing on the wing or in the center of midfield, the young player has already scored 2 goals and made 3 assists in his limited playing time this season. For a player so young, Kadioglu is very well-rounded in the attacking department. His decision making for passing needs improvement, but that will come with experience. Watching Ferdi make defenders look silly as he drives towards the box reminds me of Abdelhak Nouri, a player he would have to compete with if he joins Ajax. As an added bonus, Kadioglu is quite good at taking corners and free kicks, a testament to his great technique on the ball. It could be that the teen would be better suited developing at N.E.C. where he’s getting a lot of first team football, but a chance to train with the best players in the country should definitely be considered if the opportunity were to arise. He’s not very well known in the world of football yet, but in a year’s time Ferdi Kadioglu could be one of the hottest prospects in Holland.