The 2018-19 season in the Champions League was memorable for a lot of reasons, one of them being the Ajax lineup that made it to the semi-finals of the competition, defeating Real Madrid and Juventus in the process.
The lineup fielded by Erik Ten Hag featured Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs De Ligt, Hakim Ziyech and Donny Van De Beek. All these players were highly influential in Ajax’s progression to the semi-finals of the competition, despite being major underdogs. As a result, they have all earned moves to top clubs across Europe to compete for the bigger prizes.
However, the post-Ajax phase of their careers has not gone according to plan.
Donny Van De Beek is the most notable example of this, with the Dutchman struggling to earn a starting place under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United. His signing is now seen as a panic buy after United failed to land Jadon Sancho last summer, and he has spent most of his time at Old Trafford on the bench.
As a result, he has been dropped from the Netherlands national team, and also missed the Euros through injury. He will have to play more games if he hopes to make it back to the Dutch national team, and Old Trafford certainly holds no future for the midfielder.
Hakim Ziyech, on the other hand, has had his time at Chelsea plagued by injuries. The Moroccan was injured in pre-season during his first game for Chelsea against Brighton, and struggled to make it into the team under Frank Lampard. Under Thomas Tuchel, he is now a rotational option, and has rarely played the full 90 minutes for Chelsea.
However, he has the chance to impress now that he is back from a shoulder injury sustained in the Super Cup against Villareal.
Matthijs De Ligt was Ajax’s youngest captain ever, donning the armband at 18. He moved to Juventus to step up his game, but has failed to establish himself as an undisputed starter. He is still young, at 22, and might have to move to another club if he hopes to fulfill the potential he once showed in his home country.
Frenkie de Jong has been Barcelona’s best performer in some games, but has struggled to show his best form consistently. While he has fared better than the four gems of Ajax that made moves to big clubs, he is yet to be as integral to Barcelona’s play as he was to the Dutch club.