The 19 biggest u20 talents of De Toekomst

An in-depth look at the players poised to make an impact in Amsterdam

#9 Kaj Sierhuis

When a striker performs a bicycle kick from a cross and sees it loop over the goalkeeper and in, it really says two things. One: the player has the utmost confidence in his abilities. Two: he does, in fact, have those abilities. Kaj Sierhuis became a semi-internet sensation last year when he pulled off the ambitious overhead kick in the UEFA Youth League. However, Kaj is more than just a YouTube sensation, and most of those at Ajax have known this for a while.

READ - Born in Athens, raised in Amsterdam

Sierhuis has been immense up front for the Under-19’s both domestically and in the Youth League. The Dutch striker, born in Athens, has scored an unbelievable 46 goals in 57 appearances for the U-19’s. Yes, you read that correctly. Sierhuis’ great knack for getting into open positions, constantly finding space through channels in and outside of the box, is what makes him such a threat to score goals.

That’s not to say his finishing isn’t great though, because it is. Kaj’s link-up play with fellow attackers is also good. Many of his passes occur in the midfield because he drops deep in somewhat of a false nine role, similar to the play style of Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg. Sierhuis is also a superb header of the ball, which helps him tally those extra goals that wouldn’t happen with just his feet. In conclusion, Kaj Sierhuis should be getting first team football with Jong Ajax this season. If he does, the 19-year-old will make a huge impact in the Dutch Jupiler League and beyond in the coming seasons.

#8 Deyovaisio Zeefuik

Deyovaisio Zeefuik’s first team debut at the end of last season was a big reward for a lot of hard work. The right-back has come through the youth ranks to become a first team defender for Jong Ajax. Now a part of the senior squad to start the season, Zeefuik could be the main backup to Joël Veltman on the right side of Ajax’s defense. The Dutch youth international is an all-around fullback who understands his defensive duties but also gets forward often.

Zeefuik has played centre-back before, which exemplifies his defensive abilities. He’s very smart with his tackling and puts himself in good defensive positions. Zeefuik isn’t the quickest player on the pitch which sometimes lets him down when running back, but he’s very smart so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Deyovaiso’s technical abilities, especially his crossing and dribbling, are very good for a defender. This allows for Ajax to look to him for width on the right side to help spread the play.

With the sale of Kenny Tete and a lack of an immediate replacement at right-back, this could be the breakout season for Deyovaisio Zeefuik. With Marcel Keizer, former Jong Ajax head coach who worked with Zeefuik for most of last season, having been appointed as manager of the first team, Zeefuik might have confidence that the pair’s familiarity with each other may lead to a good amount of playing time.

#7 Vaclav Černý

Once heralded as Ajax’s next superstar winger, opinions of Černý have cooled down recently. The Czech winger, who often plays on the right side despite being left-footed, only appeared in five Eredivisie matches last season. Some reports have revealed a supposed unhappiness at Ajax and a willingness to leave this summer, but the aforementioned appointment of Keizer may be a glimmer of hope for Vaclav.

Whether he stays or goes, Černý is no doubt an extremely talented player. The inverted winger has great technique on the ball. Černý’s dribbling often leaves defenders dumbfounded and his free kicks produce a similar reaction from defeated goalkeepers. His long shots after cutting inside are reminiscent of Arjen Robben, as is his speed running down the flank. Černý can play out wide on the left as well which makes him a versatile asset to Ajax’s attack.

The Czech U-21 international, who made the move to Ajax in 2014, probably deserves to be receiving more playing time than he’s gotten over the years at the club. That being said, the signing of David Neres and emergence of Justin Kluivert have really dampened Černý’s chances in the first team unless he plays in a less natural left-wing role. It remains to be seen what the future holds for the lively winger with loads of flair, so enjoy his moments of brilliance while you can.

#6 Ché Nunnely

Ever-present on the flanks for the U-19’s, Ché Nunnely has been one of the most exciting young talents in the academy for years. Only 18, the Dutch winger is comfortable on both flanks, but his strengths follow those of traditional wingers. Nunnely favors his strong right foot, so when he plays out wide on the right he’s often times more effective.

Ché is first and foremost an amazing on-the-ball player. His first touch is sublime and he beats defenders at the youth level with ease. Once he frees himself inside the box, his short passes and finishing abilities are great, as are his crosses from deeper. But if you’ve ever managed Ajax on Football Manager, you’ll know Nunnely as the kid who develops into a 19-20 pace player (one of the fastest in the game). This is no fluke; he is extremely fast running down the wing, which is beneficial both offensively and defensively.

Ché Nunnely has the physical presence to compete at the highest level as well as a first touch and ball control that will certainly make it difficult for Eredivisie defenders to tackle him. If he keeps improving this season and gets some solid minutes for Jong Ajax, I can see Nunnely becoming a key member of the squad by the time the 2018/19 season rolls around.

#5 Sebastian Pasquali

It says a lot about a player that he can be so highly thought of at a club without even playing a match for the youth teams. Sebastian Pasquali, a 17-year-old Australian attacking midfielder, made the move to Ajax from Melbourne Victory in the January 2017 transfer window, but he wasn’t allowed to play for the club throughout the rest of the season. “We don’t have clearance from the FIFA yet,” an Ajax spokesperson told the Herald Sun. “The procedure is still pending.” Nevertheless, Pasquali is a truly gifted talent.

Ajax took a punt on Sebastian Pasquali in the fall of 2016 despite the player only having played 2 A-League matches. What really captured the attention of audiences worldwide was his performance off the bench against Juventus in a friendly with Melbourne Victory last July, where he dominated the match and eventually scored in the penalty shootout. Pasquali’s flashy dribbling certainly wowed the announcers, but there’s a lot more to the Aussie’s game than that.

Sebastian Pasquali is one of those players that you watch and you just know he’s in control of the match. I’d liken him to a much more advanced Sergio Busquets because of how well he works in tight spaces; he’s constantly turning his head to analyze the situation, whether that be to avoid defenders or pick out open teammates. Pasquali’s passing ability allows him to unlock defensive lines, and he can do it so often because he puts himself in the positions to receive passes with time on the ball. At only 16-years-old, you could tell he was the main pivot, the creative composer of Melbourne’s attacking moves.

Pasquali isn’t just a creator. He’s not tall and is actually quite skinny, but the midfielder can stay composed and hold defenders off just long enough to get a pass away. Pasquali’s confidence is also beneficial without the ball as he is often seen tackling the ball away from opponents that don’t see him coming. He is certainly well-rounded enough for the Ajax system, especially at his age.

The player many Australians are claiming as their new hope, Sebastian Pasquali should excite every supporter of Ajax. He is not only a talented individual but also a great team player in a short-passing system. Sebastian’s confidence will surely make him a threat in the press as well. Pasquali may not have played a game for Ajax yet, but he’s poised to make an earth-shattering impact once he lands on the TV screens of fans across Holland.

Written by Alex Dieker

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Crossbar Post, as well as a writer for AjaxDaily and lover of all things Ajax!

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