ESPN made his ESPN FC 100 again and had a spot in their list for five Ajax players and Ajax-manager Erik Ten Hag. André Onana, Nicolás Tagliafico, Donny van de Beek, David Neres, Dusan Tadic and Erik ten Hag all claimed their place in the ESPN FC 100. Besides that, ex Ajax-players Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong are also named by ESPN.
To compile the 2019 edition of ESPN FC 100, more than 40 ESPN FC experts from around the world were given a list of about 250 players and managers to make their selections. Each expert made a top 10 for every position in a traditional 4-3-3- formation. All scores combined lead to a top 10 from the best players of 2019. We’ll discuss all Ajax-players who received a spot in the top 10 on the position they play.
Goalkeeper: André Onana (10)
Ajax goalkeeper André Onana finds himself on the 10th place behind big names as David de Gea, Hugo Lloris, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Wojciech Szszesny, Manuel Neuer, Ederson, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jan Oblak and number one Alisson from Liverpool.
ESPN comments on Onana: “Ajax’s fairy-tale run to the 2018-19 Champions League semifinals might not have been possible without Onana, who at 23 is surely the most exciting goalkeeper in his age group. His education with the Dutch champions and, previously, Barcelona shines through in his composure on the ball and astute interpretation of the “sweeper-keeper” role.
Sharp reflexes and a commanding penalty box presence complete the package and a move to one of Europe’s biggest leagues surely beckons before long.”
Left-back: Nicolas Tagliafico (10)
Nicolas Tagliafico has been rewarded with a 10th place on the left-back position. The players with a higher ranking are: Aleksandar Kolarov, Alex Grimaldo, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Digne, Lucas Hernandez, Alex Sandro, Jordi Alba, David Alaba and number one Andrew Robertson.
ESPN writes about Tagliafico: “One of the most joyous things about Ajax’s run to the Champions League semifinal last season was that there often wasn’t one standout individual, but a lot of perfectly fitted cogs in a gloriously entertaining machine. Tagliafico often stood out regardless, a busy and diminutive player who scurries around the pitch, being a nuisance. He also has established himself as one of the key men in the Argentine national team.”
Attacking midfield: Donny van de Beek (3)
A great score for Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek who finds himself on the 3rd place of the attacking midfielder ranking with only Manchester City stars Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva in front of him.
ESPN praises the development the 22-year-old made over the last year: “One of the biggest surprises over the summer was that Ajax managed to keep hold of Van de Beek as the richest clubs in the world circled for his signature. But keep him they did, and he hasn’t lost his mojo in the wake of the exits of Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong to Juventus and Barcelona, respectively. If anything, he has continued to prove why he is one of the most promising midfielders in the world. “Many players have grown, and Van de Beek is the best example of this,” Ronald Koeman said of the next great Ajax star.
Winger: David Neres (8)
Wingers still have a role to play in the modern era and Brazilian winger David Neres showed the world that he is a player who certainly plays an important role for his team. Therefore, he finds himself back in 8th place. The seven players with a higher ranking are all superstars from the biggest European clubs: Angel di Maria, Marco Reus, Son Heung-Min, Jadon Sancho, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, and Raheem Sterling.
ESPN remembers the important goals Neres made and describes his qualities as follows: “With memorable goals against Real Madrid and Juventus, Neres was one of the revelations of Ajax’s run to last season’s Champions League semifinals. As accomplished a creator as he is a scorer, the pacy wide man was not an automatic pick in the first half of last season; but by the end of the campaign, he had played his way into both the Ajax first XI and Brazil’s triumphant Copa America squad.”
Forward: Dusan Tadic (10)
Ajax-captain Dusan Tadic had an incredible 2019 so far and therefore he finds himself in the top 10 along with some quality players: Joao Felix, Neymar, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Antoine Griezmann, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The Serbian forward surprised everybody with his outstanding performances at Ajax so far, including ESPN: “For all the quality he showed in his four years at Southampton, few people could have predicted the extraordinary impact Tadic would have in his first season at Ajax. The Serbia international amassed 38 goals and 24 assists in all competitions, crowned by his virtuoso display in Ajax’s 4-1 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League round of 16 last season. A devastating alliance of elegance and creativity, it was a performance for the ages.”
Manager: Erik ten Hag (3)
The mastermind behind Ajax’s great season was certainly Ajax-manager Erik ten Hag and this clearly has been noticed according to his third place. The only coaches who have a better ranking are Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
ESPN describes the performance of Ten Hag as follows: “How Erik ten Hag must curse Lucas Moura. The Ajax coach was one swish of the Tottenham winger’s left boot away from becoming the first man to lead the Amsterdam giants into a Champions League final since 1996. Nevertheless, the way his adventurous young team laid waste to the continent’s superpowers — eliminating Real Madrid and Juventus in the knockout stages — established him as one of Europe’s top coaches.”
The full ESPN FC 100 can be found on the site of ESPN.