The 19 biggest u20 talents of De Toekomst

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

#4 Carel Eiting

One of Jong Ajax’s key players last season, 19-year-old defensive midfielder Carel Eiting makes the cut at #4. A playmaker who prefers to sit deep, Eiting has the versatility to play in a more forward midfield role or even at centre-half. Wherever he plays, the Dutch youth international provides a presence like no other. Eiting is one of the most technically sound players I’ve seen at such an age who somewhat reminds me of Xabi Alonso for the way in which he bosses the play in front of the defensive line.

Eiting’s passing and ball control are both spectacular. He is also strong and agile, which allows him to maneuver through tight spaces when being pressed tight. Carel’s cross-pitch vision and composure sees him calmly pick out teammates from far distances, while his short passing is also quite good. Eiting is also a reputable defender, as his tackles and positioning are pretty good for a playmaker-type midfielder. Finally, Carel Eiting’s overall awareness makes him one of the smartest players on the pitch at any given time.

This season is an interesting one for Eiting. We’ve seen Donny van de Beek and Frenkie de Jong stake their claim as first team players, but the road seems to be winding a bit more for Carel. Many fans would like to see veteran Lasse Schøne phased out of the deep-lying playmaker role in favor of either van de Beek or de Jong. If that’s the case, Eiting may find himself as a rotational player in the midfield.

#3 Justin Kluivert

Less than one year ago, Justin Kluivert made his Jong Ajax debut. In January he made his Ajax first team debut. In a similar light to his father, Patrick, Kluivert sent the fans of the club into a joyous frenzy after only a few appearances. The winger, who can play on either the right or left, is one of the more remarkable stories of the 2016/17 campaign. Ajax was struggling at the halfway point; Bertrand Traoré’s inconsistency, Amin Younes’ lack of a finishing product, and the sale of Anwar El Ghazi meant the flanks were a barren wasteland. When Kluivert emerged as a first team option at only 17 (now 18), everyone was understandably relieved.

READ - The mercurial Justin Kluivert

Justin Kluivert is a phenomenal winger in every sense of the word. His speed off the block coupled with his insanely deceptive dribbling skills absolutely terrorizes defenders. Once he beats his man, Kluivert has the know-how to either slide the ball across the box to a trailing teammate, send in an accurate cross with either foot, or make a beautiful through ball to split the defense.

Having already amassed plenty of first team appearances last season, Justin Kluivert has begun the season as Keizer’s first choice right-winger over Brazilian David Neres. To challenge an expensive, slightly older player and beat him to a starting spot is one thing. But when Kluivert left the pitch after Ajax’s 3-3 aggregate loss (on away goals) to OGC Nice for Champions League qualification, there was no doubt that he was the man of the match. The sky is the limit for young Justin. We’re all excited to see what happens next.

#2 Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt

Captain a professional team? Check. Play in a European Cup final? Check. Become a full international? Check. Do it all at the age of 17? Check. The amount of accomplishments already claimed by young defender Matthijs de Ligt. Already a mainstay at centre-back for the Dutch giants, he’s one of the biggest prospects in world football. De Ligt has stayed strong in the face of adversity, been a technical and mental leader for the team, and popped up on both ends of the pitch with amazing, match-winning plays. If the sky is the limit for Kluivert then the galaxy is the limit for Matthijs de Ligt.

READ - Matthijs de Ligt: Ajax' new sensation

Having been brought up in the Ajax academy, one can already presume what de Ligt’s strengths are. First and foremost, he’s a great defender. Last-ditch tackles, crucial interceptions, and swooping headed clearances are all actions performed by de Ligt on a weekly basis. He is also an integral part to the passing play Ajax is known so well for; the Dutchman is comfortable dribbling the ball out of the back to free up space for his teammates to make runs. Although the match ended in a loss, de Ligt’s confidence was on full display in the Europa League Final against Manchester United. The youngster maintained a high pass accuracy despite accruing a large number of touches, and his defensive abilities were crucial in damming countless United attacks.

Matthijs is also a big threat physically. Although not quite as speedy as some of his teammates, his 6’2” (1.88m) frame is quite muscular, which gives him the strength to ward off pesky attackers. This also helps on the offensive end, as de Ligt is a constant threat on set pieces. Matthijs de Ligt is almost the textbook definition of a ball-playing centre-half, and at 17-years-old it is actually quite terrifying to think how dominating the Leiderdorp-born teen can one day become.

#1 Kasper Dolberg

The man who takes home the crown as Ajax’s most promising teenager is none other than Kasper Dolberg: the Danish sensation. The all-around 19-year-old forward has taken massive strides over the past year since making his first team debut; Dolberg is comfortable in basically every aspect of the striker role. His ball control and passing ability forces defenders to track him deep into the midfield, which allows his teammates to run into open space. Dolberg’s composure when striking the ball, strength when battling defenders, and confidence when pressing makes him undoubtedly the most complete and exciting striker Ajax has possessed for years.

READ - Kasper Dolberg is the dazzling Dane of Ajax

A symbol of the tenure of Peter Bosz, Kasper Dolberg scored 23 goals and dished out 10 assists in 43 matches in all competitions last season. It is clear that he poses a major goal-scoring threat to defenses not only in the Netherlands, but across Europe as well. Dolberg’s tally of 10 assists goes to show that he’s not only providing a relieving outlet in the midfield but is also making the key passes that create goals. All of this combined with Kasper’s willingness to press hard when out of possession and a strong aerial presence in the box has put the Dane on the mouths of Ajax fans everywhere, as well as those of Europe’s elite clubs’ scouts.

It is probably inevitable that Kasper Dolberg will leave Ajax for a massive pay raise and chance to play against the world’s best at some point in the not-so-distant future. Him staying in Amsterdam this year is crucial for his development, but don’t be surprised if the complete forward is saying goodbye to his teammates in the summer of 2018. To be quite frank, the global market takes these matters out of our hands, so why don’t we just enjoy every Kasper Dolberg dribble, pass, and goal this season; it may be his last with us.

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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