Tagliafico to fly the flag for Ajax at the World Cup

Nicolas Tagliafico is perhaps the key player flying the flag for Ajax in the eagerly anticipated FIFA World Cup taking place in Russia this summer.

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli named the impressive defender Tagliafico, 25, in his 23-man squad and many and pundits, and certainly supporters of the Dutch giants, were unsurprised he made the final cut.

It means that despite the huge disappointment of Holland failing to secure a spot in what is universally consider to be the greatest sports show on the planet, followers of Ajax, at least, have a vested interest in the tournament and for the best World Cup betting tips should visit our friends at footy accumulators.

Tagliafico joined Ajax from Independiente and during his time at the Argentine outfit he earned his first international cap. It is fair to say he hasn’t looked back.

And his displays in domestic football — where he likes to play as a marauding left-back capable of turning defence into attack with his energetic runs and speed of thought — has even been compared with Javier Zanetti, who is the record international cap holder for his country.

Such was his dazzling displays for Ajax, it was reported that Stoke City, recently relegated from the Premier League, were keen on acquiring the services of the Buenos Aires-born ace.

Another player eager to enjoy a stand-out tournament this summer is Ajax’s Morocco midfield maestro Hakim Ziyech, 25. But if he does flourish on the big stage, it could well hasten what is seen as an inevitable departure from the Sons of the Gods.

He is already the subject of much rumour, speculation and counter rumour over a proposed move to a clutch of leading European clubs, including Liverpool and their Merseyside rivals Everton, as well as Italian giants Roma.

And, disappointingly for followers of Ajax, Ziyech has revealed his desire to leave the club. He was named the team’s player of the season but his displays in the last campaign may be the fine time he is seen in an Ajax shirt.

Speaking from the Moroccan World Cup camp in Rabat ahead of the tournament Ziyech appeared philosophical when he said: “A lot can change after the World Cup especially if we lose, it can work to my disadvantage. But I do not think so.”

Another Ajax player who is attracting the attention of potential suitors with bulging budgets for recruiting top talent is defender Matthijs de Ligt, 18.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who has just claimed the Premier League title with the Etihad Stadium outfit, is keeping tabs on the highly-rated central defender. Might he be a long-term replacement for Vincent Kompany is probably the way Guardiola’s mind is working on this one as he runs the rule over the stopper who made 34 appearances last season.

Meanwhile, Denmark will boast two Ajax players when they travel to the tournament. Striker Kasper Dolberg and midfielder Lasse Schone form part of the Danes’ 23-man squad, chosen by coach Age Hareide.

Goal-getter Dolberg is another player who has no lack of suitors and should he shine at the World Cup, Spanish giants Barcelona may well renew their interest, shown earlier this year, in making an offer for the supremely talented attacker.