To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Not now
OK

Erik Ten Hag Gave A Staggering 23 Debuts To Ajax Academy Players, Where Are They Now?

Daniel Marland

Published 
| Last updated 

Erik Ten Hag Gave A Staggering 23 Debuts To Ajax Academy Players, Where Are They Now?

Erik ten Hag gave 23 Ajax academy players their debut during his five years as manager and some of them have already achieved great things in the game.

Loading…

The 52-year-old's track record with youth caught the attention of Manchester United and they announced him as their new manager back in April.

Ten Hag is currently overseeing a promising pre-season and 13 of his 31-man squad graduated from the United academy.

Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage have impressed, while James Garner, Alejandro Garnacho and Hannibal Mejbri are chomping at the bit to impress.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

Whatever effort they put in will not be in vein either. Every player to have debuted under ten Hag are still at Ajax or play top-flight football elsewhere in Europe.

Nobody guarantees success, but ten Hag's eye for talent is as close to perfect as you can get.

Using Transfermarkt, we have identified every player ten Hag gave a first professional start to between 2017 and 2022. Some of these names will be familiar.

1.) Noussair Mazraoui (Right-back)

Debut: February 4, 2018

Where is he now? Bayern Munich

Mazraoui made his debut in ten Hag's third game as manager and left a lasting impression. The following season saw him overtake Joel Veltman as starting right-back and he played a vital role in Ajax's last three Eredivise title wins. The Morocco international's contract expired in July and he signed a four-year deal with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

2.) Dani de Wit (Midfielder)

Debut: February 25, 2018

Where is he now? AZ Alkmaar

De Wit found minutes hard to come by, with a packed midfield including Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek stifling any chance of regular game time. Lasse Schone's experience was vital too. He departed for AZ Alkmaar in 2019 and remains a regular to this day, playing all eight of last season's Europa Conference League games.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

3.) Jurgen Ekkelenkamp (Midfielder)

Debut: April 19, 2018

Where is he now?: Hertha Berlin

Ekkelenkamp made an impressive 40 appearances in all competitions before swapping the Netherlands for Germany last year. He scored one minute into his debut after replacing former AC Milan and Barcelona star Kevin Prince-Boateng.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

4.) Azor Matusiwa (Midfielder)

Debut: May 6, 2018

Where is he now?: Reims

Matusiwa's sole appearance came on the final day of the 17/18 season, a 2-1 win over Excelsior. Nobody would complain about a 100 per cent win record. He now plies his trade with Ligue 1 stalwarts Reims after a spell with Groningen.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

5.) Kaj Sierhuis (Striker)

Debut: August 11, 2018

Where is he now?: Heracles

Sierhuis played three times in all and like Matusiwa, joined Reims before spending a season with Heracles. Sadly, he tore his ACL in February and is yet to make a return.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

6.) Ryan Gravenberch (Midfielder)

Debut: September 23, 2018

Where is he now?: Bayern Munich

Ten Hag's youngest debutant and the one destined for superstardom, coming on four days after his 16th birthday against PSV Eindhoven. Ajax lost the game 3-0 and it means Gravenberch is the first on this list to debut in a defeat. Ironic. He's regarded as one of the world's top midfield talents and moved to Bayern for £15 million last month, with his contract set to expire in 2023.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

7.) Mitchel Bakker (Left-back)

Debut: September 26, 2018

Where is he know? Bayer Leverkusen

Bakker never played a league game and was limited to appearances in the cup. He shockingly joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 and made the top 20 candidates for the 2020 Golden Boy award. Injuries to Juan Bernat and Layvin Kurzawa saw Bakker given more minutes under Mauricio Pochettino and he featured in their Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester City. He was sold to Bayer Leverkusen three months later, but PSG have a buyback clause.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

8.) Noa Lang (Winger)

Debut: March 13, 2019

Where is he now?: Club Brugge

Talented, and he knows it is perhaps the best way to sum up Lang. Ten Hag gave him a public dressing down during a cup game and told him to 'shut up and listen'. Bad blood continued to boil and Lang eventually departed for Club Brugge after a successful loan spell. Lang has attracted interest from a number of clubs this summer and is still bitter towards ten Hag, claiming everyone at the club loved him except 'one person'.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

9.) Sergino Dest (Right-back)

Debut: August 10, 2019

Where is he now?: Barcelona

Probably the player on this list everyone has seen most. The United States international played 38 games for Ajax before sealing a move to Barcelona in 2020. He was a regular starter under Ronald Koeman, but Dani Alves' return in 2022 and the appointment of Xavi saw Dest slip down the pecking order. He has been linked with a move away from the Camp Nou this summer.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

10.) Sontje Hansen (Winger)

Debut: December 22, 2019

Where is he now?: Ajax

Hansen is still at Ajax and features regularly for Jong Ajax. He was handed his debut at 17 and is likely to get opportunities this season.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

11.) Naci Unuvar (Winger)

Debut: January 22, 2020

Where is he now?: Ajax

Another winger. Another one for the future. Where do Ajax find these talents? Unuvar scored 16 goals in 31 games for Jong Ajax in the last campaign. New manager Alfred Schreuder will be keeping an eye on him.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

12.) Danilo Pereira (Striker)

Debut: February 23, 2020

Where is he now? Feyenoord

Not to be confused with the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder of the same name, Danilo was mainly backup to Sebastien Haller during his time with the club. He departed as a free agent this summer but has stayed in the Eredivise.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

13.) Jurrien Timber (Central defender)

Debut: March 7, 2020

Where is he now?: Ajax

If you've followed any Manchester United transfer news in the last few months, chances are you've stumbled across this name. Timber is a calming presence at the back already, despite only turning 21 in June. Ten Hag wanted to bring him to Old Trafford, but he turned down a move out of fear of losing his place in the Netherlands squad. Definitely one to watch.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

14.) Brian Brobbey (Striker)

Debut: October 31, 2020

Where is he now?: Ajax

Perhaps the most interesting player on this list. Brobbey was seen as the heir to Haller's throne, but chose to join RB Leipzig when his contract expired in 2021. Realising the grass was not greener in the Bundesliga, he returned to Ajax on loan in January. He scored seven goals in 11 games and made the move permanent in July. Haller is now at Borussia Dortmund and Brobbey will likely be the main man going forward.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

15.) Devyne Rensch (Right-back)

Debut: November 28, 2020

Where is he now?: Ajax

Devyne Rensch could see his chances of making the first-team scuppered by the arrival of Owen Wijndal, but right-back is Ajax's greatest weakness right now.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

16.) Kenneth Taylor (Midfielder)

Debut: December 12, 2020

Where is he now?: Ajax

This season could be a breakout one for Kenneth Taylor. The departure of Gravenberch means there is an opportunity for someone to step up and it could be him. Taylor impressed in pre-season and was handed a start in last month's Johan Cruyff Trophy defeat to PSV Eindhoven.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

17.) Victor Jensen (Midfielder)

Debut: December 12, 2020

Where is he now?: Rosenborg (on loan from Ajax)

Jensen spent half of 2021 on loan with Danish outfit Nordsjælland and he's captained Denmark at youth level. He signed a new contract in March before joining Rosenborg on a two-year loan deal.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

18.) Youri Regeer (Midfielder)

Debut: December 15, 2021

Where is he now?: Ajax

Regeer played five times last season and in a change of pace, featured more in the league than the cup. He did score in the latter though, a 9-0 romp over Excelsior Maassluis.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

19.) Kristian Hlynsson (Central midfielder)

Debut: December 15, 2021

Where is he now?: Ajax

Hlynsson became a cup specialist, scoring in both appearances against Barendrecht and Excelsior Maassluis. You'd take two goals in two at the start of any season, never mind your debut one.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

20.) Amourrichio van Axel Dongen (Winger)

Debut: December 15, 2021

Where is he now?: Ajax

A third debut in the same game against Barendrecht, van Axel Dongen is already attracting interest from some of Europe's top clubs. We have said it so many times already in this list, but one to keep your eye on.

21.) Liam van Gelderen (Right-back)

Debut: April 23, 2022

Where is he now?: Groningen

Van Gelderen was thrusted into the spotlight during last season's title charge after a string of injuries. He left in the summer to join Groningen where he is hoping to establish himself as a starter.

22.) Jay Gorter (Goalkeeper)

Debut: May 15, 2022

Where is he now?: Ajax

Ajax's goalkeeping situation in the last few years has been a strange one. The last two years of Andre Onana's career have been complex and often, Ajax relied on veteran keepers Remko Pasveer and Maarten Stekelenburg. Gorter started the last game of last season against Vitesse with ten Hag knowing he was on his way to United. Was this one final gift?

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

23.) Anass Salah-Eddine

Debut: May 15, 2022

Where is he now?: FC Twente (On loan from Ajax)

Salah-Eddine came on for Nicolas Tagliafico against Vitesse and has since gone to FC Twente on loan.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

Who do you think will be the standout academy graduate at Manchester United under Erik ten Hag?

Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Erik Ten Hag, Ajax

Daniel Marland
More like this

Chosen for YouChosen for You

Football

Wojciech Szczesny lost a €100 bet with Lionel Messi over controversial VAR penalty decision

2 hours ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

It's 4am in Australia but the scenes are crazy as they book spot in World Cup last 16

9 hours ago