January: Looking Good and One In On Transfer Deadline Day
Lincoln & Haaland Hit The Ground Running
It was a relaxed month at the beginning for Ajax, Lincoln and Haaland
both coming in eased the pressure for loads of business to be done and despite an array of sides circling for the best Ajax players, it was only Joel Veltman
who was subject to a bid from the so called big gun players. Wolverhampton Wanderers
had that bid turned down however.
Blind is on his way to China
Daley Blind is on his way out of Ajax though but as it is to either Shanghai Greenland Shenhua or Dilian Yifang
. The fee that Ajax will be getting is believed to be £22,000,000
. That will be a £6,000,000
profit on what they paid Manchester United
only two years ago.
Foden and Barkley did not make the move to Holland
There was one signing on deadline day. It is understood they were turned away again for Phil Foden (I do not believe we have heard the last of Ajax going for him either) and chose against bidding for Ross Barkley
. Instead Ajax matched the minimum fee release clause of £25,000,000
for Sander Berge
. It is understood that his club KRC Genk
had already spent and eye popping £20,000,000
on transfer deadline day so needed to make the money back. Ajax manager Frank de Boar claimed he had been a fan of the midfielder of around 6 months.
Dennis (Bergkamp) came to me and told me that I needed to go and watch this young man in Belgium play. I had sent Dennis to watch someone else but after the match, Sander had got the player of the match award and met Dennis. He was told by Dennis that I would be interested in buying him and asked how he felt about this and whether or not he would be interested. Sander was very respectful and stated he did not want to talk whilst contracted to his current club and would wait if he was given permission. I went and saw him a few times (de Boar laughs). SEVEN times I went to watch him play, I could almost have a corporate box there, I went that often. When it come to deadline day I just thought, Sheffield United are interested! I mean no disrespect to them but there 13th in the table in England and we have an exceptional record with younger players where we can nurture them into players that move to massive clubs! Obviously I want this to stop and players come here to be exceptional but this is a working progress. I look forward to Sander Berge being amazing for Ajax football club.
Sander Berge, however did move to Ajax for £25,000,000
The month of January was a good month for Ajax despite nearly slipping up in the Dutch Cup against second division side MVV
but came through that.
The first fixture back from the winter break saw Hakim Ziyach continue where he left off but the difference this match was there was a striker who new how to score as Lincoln and Haaland both started but it was the Brazilian who got off the mark here. Jack Grealish, who has now settled into life in Holland ran the show with his right hand man Ziyach. No one came in with a bid for the wide man and he showed them what they were missing when he lashed home from 20 yard out follow good link up play with Grealish and Ekkelenkamp in midfield. Grealish then swept home a delightful through ball by debutant Haaland before Lincoln stole the show with his trickery, taking it around 3 defenders and scoring a 1 on 1 against the keeper. Lincoln then rose highest to head home a forth. Zwolle got one back but Ekkelenkamp finished off the scoring with a crisp finish from around 8 yards out.
MVV were so close to the upset
Then in the cup, Ajax were lacklustre at the start of the match. MVV looked as though they were the dominant force in Dutch football so when they scored in the 41st minute, not one Ajax supporter were surprised. it was a Nicolas Tagliafico own goal. At half time Ajax were booed off. They did not improve in the second half but they were lucky that MVV are not the best at scoring, only 9 goals in the second division all season. They doggedly held on defending there hearts out when Naci Unuvar hit a pot shot from the corner of the box which totally surprised MVV and went in. Ajax did not deseve it. MVV were shot and in a boring extra time the game went to penalties, something Ajax have been excellent at all season. First Haaland (technically his first goal for Ajax but it doesn't get put like that), Then American Dest, Moroccan En-Ensyri and Naci Unuvar finished a perfect 4 goals with Onana saving from Vlijter and Martina for Ajax to luckily go through to the quarter final.
They finished the month off with a 4-0 win against Groningen who were lying third at the time, demonstrating the gulf in class between Ajax and PSV to the rest of the league. Erling Haaland scoring two goal, Kik Pierie sandwiching the goals and Van de Beek finishing it off.
Ajax have pulled out a 4 point lead with a game in hand so if they win they will go 7 clear and it will be looking a lot better for the Champions. Good months for FC Utretch and FC Groningen see them keep pace for third and a Europa League spot. Heracles have also moved up and are looking in good shape. At the bottom, Vitesse and Fortuna are 3 points off Sparta in 15th place but Sparta have lost there last 5 on the bounce and it is looking like they are now in the tight relegation battle. FC Twente should be safe as they are 9 clear of 13th placed PEC Zwolle.
Ajax have a busy February coming up with five Eredivisie matches, The Dutch Cup Quarter Final and Champions League 1st knockout stage.
Ajax, in theory should win all there Eredivisie matches this month. In FC Utretch in the Dutch Cup they have a potential banana skin, however with the new signings allowed to play it looks as though they should win that. It is the crunch match against FC Bayern that is going to be the big one! Can they do it?
Player Of The Month
This young defender was on the loan list at the start of the season, now he has been given a fresh new 4 year deal and is one of the first names on the teamsheet. His ability to suss out where the ball is going and to intercept it is out of this world. If at the start of the season you told me the first choice centre back pairing would be Pierie and Rajkovic then I would have laughed!