Tagliafico: Coming to Ajax helped me grow as a player

Nicolas Tagliafico has told of his delight at being allowed to develop his game at Ajax under the watchful eye of head coach Erik ten Hag. Left-back Tagliafico has seen his game come on leaps and bounds since his arrival at the club from his native Argentina. He switched to the Eredivisie from Independiente back in 2018 and he has never looked back.

And such has been his progress that the elite clubs from around Europe have started to take note of the potential availability of the defender, who cost just £4million when he was lured to the Johan Cruijff ArenA. A transfer to a big club in the Premier League, Bundesliga or La Liga wouldn’t be out of the question this summer that’s for sure.

And his dazzling displays even led to fellow countryman Lionel Messi extolling the benefits of playing alongside him and, indeed, urging his club Barcelona to take a look at capturing the 27-year-old. One way or another, the summer could be a defining one for his career. Yet he says he has Ajax to thank for the step up he has been able to make. He added that the style of football at the Sons of the Gods suits him down to the ground. And that is probably why he has been able to flourish so much.

Tagliafico, who has earned 25 caps at international level for Argentina, told his country’s Ole sports newspaper:

“Coming to Ajax made me grow as a player. Not only as a professional but also in the way I see football, tactically and technically. One has to prepare to play in a team with such a defined identity. Because if you don’t, you don’t play.

“The main difference is the idea of the game. Here, almost every team tries to play with the ball on the ground. In Argentina, for instance, you see something different lately. A football that is more physical, of perhaps more trying to go for the second ball. Also, aggressively speaking, it’s different. Here, in Europe and specifically in Holland, the football is more peaceful, it’s calmer. In Argentina, a team that is more intense with a lot more pressure is difficult to play with. Not here, they let you play more.”

Tagliafico, who started his career in his homeland with Banfield before switching to Independiente in 2015, says he wants to play his football in Europe for the foreseeable future before considering making a move back home. He added:

“I’ll be 28 in August. Long term wise, I’d want to stay in this continent until I retire. After that, I’ll see if I go back to Argentina or not. For now, there’s still a lot of time left.”

One thing is for sure, though – Ajax fans will be hoping they can keep the player for the next season at least. The Barcelonas of this world may have something to say about that.