You want to know the most exciting bit of transfer news that occurred recently? Sure, Nemanja Gudelj’s departure and David Neres’ arrival were the highlights, but if you ask me honestly; it was Lasse Schöne’s contract extension. It took a little bit longer than expected, but good things come to those that wait. Ajax must certainly be feeling that way.
My colleague wrote an interesting piece about Lasse a couple of weeks ago calling him a ‘modern day legend’, a statement which I would have to agree with. The word legend is used fairly loosely these days, but an experienced practitioner such as Schöne is like gold-dust for this Ajax team. It’s a wonder that someone with his experience (and age) hasn’t yet decided to move abroad for more money or a better league. For that, we should be indebted.
There is just so much to like about Schöne: his mental toughness, his ability to adapt to situations and positions, his technical ability, his ability to read match situations just to name a few. I have lost count of the amount of times that Schöne has had to fight his way back into the team under various managers, yet he has done so with dignity and success.
Schöne has scored 33 goals and provided 26 assists so far in his Ajax career; impressive statistics for a man that has played in four or five different positions since arriving in Amsterdam in 2012 on a free transfer. So, it was of no real surprise when Ajax offered him a two year extension to his current contract. According to Overmars, Schöne ‘deserves this extension wholly’ and that his ‘mental strength is an example to all at the club’, strong words from a man that can be quite critical when he wants to be.
Let’s focus on the current season for a minute. New manager Peter Bosz was desperately seeking the perfect balance for his team and had settled for a formation that didn’t include Schöne. Instead of whinging and moaning about it, the Dane quietly continued to train hard and mentor the younger players in the squad. Then, during a KNVB Beker game against Willem II, Schöne was positioned as number 6 in a set-up which allowed him to operate effectively as a deep-lying playmaker. The rest is history. The balance that Bosz was desperately seeking had arrived.
The brilliance of Lasse Schöne as a deep-lying playmaker. #ajax [@chaka_simbeye] pic.twitter.com/2b0UV8PcXK
— AjaxDaily (@ajaxdailydotcom) February 23, 2017
It should come as no surprise that Ajax have been on a golden run recently due to the fact that Bosz has settled into a preferred, stable starting XI of which Schöne is a vital cog. The tactical setup allows the Danish midfielder to engineer attacks and operate effectively as a deep-lying playmaker as opposed to a classical defensive midfielder you would imagine in a 4-3-3 formation. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the pudding clearly shows a formation that works and an Ajax team playing like a well-oiled machine, thanks in large to Schöne.
It is to be hoped that Schöne’s contract extension can spur on the likes of Klaassen (another vital cog for Ajax) and Veltman to remain at the club for at least another year. Granted, Schöne is at a completely different stage of his career than those two, but hopefully it serves as inspiration that a move abroad doesn’t just have to be made for the sake of it. If Ajax can keep their talented youngsters and the core of the current starting XI for a little while longer, it would take a brave man to bet against further domestic, and potentially, European success – and guess who’ll play a big part in that? That’s right, Lasse Schöne.