AFC Ajax youth academy players
Scouting reports on the best young players from De Toekomst
Ajax’s academy is one of the most iconic in world football, producing a number of leading players from multiple generations.Every year, another seems to break into the first-team and establish himself as a high-level player.
Here are reports on De Toekomst’s emerging group of players currently. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses.
What is Ajax's academy identity?
The Ajax academy is based around the principles of Johan Cruijff: technical excellence and positional fluidity. Every player that spends significant periods at the Amsterdam club’s academy is proficient on the ball, capable of playing off either foot.
They invest huge resources into local development, but also recruit leading talent from elsewhere in the Netherlands and Europe, from Scandinavia to the Balkans.
What are Ajax's academy pathways?
Ajax are fortunate to have a B team playing in the second division of Dutch football. It provides an important bridge between academy and senior football. Many of their outstanding youth players of recent years – De Ligt, De Jong, Van de Beek, and countless more – all spent at least a season play for Jong Ajax.
And Ajax aren’t afraid to use young players too, and their dominance within the Eredivisie allows them to focus heavily on youth development.
Who are AFC Ajax's best academy graduates?
Everybody knows about the success of the Ajax academy. They’ve produced leading players in multiple generations, from the 60s and 70s right through to the current day.
A shortlist of former Ajax academy players includes Marco van Bastem, Dennis Bergkamp, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert and Wesley Sneijder.
What competitions do Ajax's academy teams play in?
Unsurprisngly, Ajax teams dominate underage football in the Netherlands, from under-8 to under-18 levels.
They’ve also been consistetly competitive in the UEFA Youth League and their B team, Jong Ajax, are typically one of the stronger sides in the Dutch second division.
Amourricho van Axel Dongen
Amourricho van Axel Dongen has been a prominent name in Netherlands’ youth circles for a little while now, not least because of it’s uniqueness.
He was linked heavily with some elite European clubs, including Chelsea, last year before extending his contract at Ajax. Since then, he’s impressed at under-18 level in the UEFA Youth League and domestic competitions. He’s also beginning to break into the Jong Ajax side and has made his first-team debut in the KNVB Beker.
Amourricho van Axel Dongen's style of play
A right-footed left winger, Van Axel Dongen is a fairly typical inverted winger – he likes to stick high and wide in build-up before narrowing as play progresses up the pitch. He does have plenty of promising traits, though.
Prime among them is his change of tempo, which is sleek and smooth. He moves through the gears effortlessly. He can create separation over the first five yards and maintain it over longer distances.
His aggressive positioning combined with his speed makes him a dangeros runner into spaces vacated by opponents. It also enables him to beat players off the dribble, which he does to a fairly regular basis. He can go either way with the ball, sliding past players with ease.
The next step in Van Axel Dongen’s development will be adding outputs to capitalise on his approach play. Turning his sleek speed and adept dribbling into more shots, for himself and others, will take him to another level.
Amourricho van Axel Dongen is a right-footed left winger that is good at dribbling on the outside of defenders, beating them with a sleek change of pace. He is also effective at attacking space from wide areas.
At the moment Van Axel Dongen struggles to turn his actions into shots. He also struggles to finish in one-v-ones.
Born in Amsterdam to parents that hail from Suriname, China and Hong Kong, Kian Fitz-Jim personifies the multicultural make-up of the Netherlands. Signed as a 16-year-old from AZ Alkmaar, he technically isn’t a product of Ajax’s academy – but he is an impressive prospect in their pipeline nonetheless.
He broke into tje Jong Ajax team last season and has since established himself as an important starter for the club’s B team this year. He’s also trained with the senior squad on a semi-regular basis.
Kian Fitz-Jim's style of play
All told, Fitz-Jim is a very active player in the centre of the pitch. He immediately catches the eye because of his all-action mobility and ball-centric mentality.
A product of AZ’s academy, it’s not surprise that Fitz-Jim is a talented player in possession. His fundamental skills are of a high level and they suit the Ajax style. He’s very clean and coordinated in how he receives and releases the ball; he scans frequently which informs his decision-making process; he is comfortable playing on his weaker left foot as well.
Those skills enable him to be an effective presence in build-up play. Fitz-Jim constantly wants to receive the ball, and he is adept at progressing possession with crisp passes over 10-20 yards.
He’s an intelligent, hard-working defender as well. He’s always seeking out the ball and isn’t afraid to engage in tackles. His mobility allows him to cover ground, but he can be overwhelmed by bigger opponents in contact.
Kian Fitz-Jim is a mobile and technical midfielder that tries to progress play at every opportunity. His technical coordination is very good, and he can all sorts of actions in midfield – from winning the ball back to driving it forward.
The biggest flaw to Fitz-Jim is his size, or lack of it. If he was half a foot taller he would be playing high-level senior football right now, but his small stature may limit his potential. He is prone to over-dribbling too.
Gabriël Misehouy has been at AFC Ajax since the age of seven, and he’s now on a fast-track through the academy ranks. He was a key starter for the club’s UEFA Youth League team this season, despite almost always being the youngest on the pitch, and impressed at every step.
Domestically, Misehouy is still with the under-18 team, but it won’t be long before we see him step up to the B team group – if not higher. He’s one of the premiere emerging talents in the Ajax youth system right now.
He starred for the Netherlands at the 2022 UEFA U-17 European Championship and has now started to break into the Jong Ajax team.
Gabriël Misehouy's style of play
In many aspects, Misehouy is the typical Ajax academy product. His smaller stature is counteracted by an excellent technical skillset, which consists of great close control, the ability to receive and play in tight spaces, as well as the vision and touch to play killer passes. The role Misehouy typically plays – an attacking eight on the left-side of a 4-3-3 shape – is indicative of Ajax also.
Misehouy is especially exciting because of his ability to break open defensive structures. He can squeeze out of the tightest of spaces, which creates time and space for himself and others to exploit. His technical level is excellent, not least in the way he manipulates the ball, but he also has the burst and agility to elevate those skills to another level. He slips out of small spaces really easily.
Once he breaks out of those areas, at whatever level of the pitch, Misehouy has shown he can hurt teams as a passer. After carrying the ball into space, he has the touch to execute valuable passes – be it slipping in an overlapping full-back or accessing an attacker in or around the box.
Expect to hear a lot more about Misehouy very soon.
Gabriël Misehouy is a small but high-tech midfielder that has excellent technical control. His small size affords him a sharp burst and agility. Misehouy is adept at breaking open defences as a technical playmaker.
Misehouy still has plenty of time and potential to develop physically, adding more muscle onto his bones. His decision-making on when and where to dribble can improve as well.
Johan Cruijff is the most iconic. Dennis Bergkamp, Marco van Basten and Patrick Kluivert are others with a similar cultural and sporting impact. Then there’s the more recent generations, which includes international-level players like Wesley Sneijder and Matthijs de Ligt.
Gabriël Misehouy is one of our favourites, an emerging talent from the 2005 generation. There is also Silvano Vos of the sme year group, and Amourricho van Axel Dongen will get a lot of attention of the coming year too.
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