When Ajax crashed out of the final Champions League qualification round at the hands of Rostov, there was a mini uproar that striker Kasper Dolberg didn’t start either game. This may come as a surprise when you take into account that he is only 18-years-old and has only played 229 minutes of competitive football for the Dutch giants. However, in the absence of Arkadiusz Milik who has recently signed for Napoli, the Ajax fans are looking towards the extremely talented forward to be their new No9 and lead the line during the 2016/17 season.

Kasper Dolberg was spotted by Ajax scout, John Steen Olsen, whist playing in a youth tournament in Denmark. Director of Football, Marc Overmars, stated that Olsen insisted on his signing and the club acted swiftly to secure his transfer from Silkeborg. It’s worth noting that Olsen is Ajax’s Scandinavian scout. The same scout who discovered talents like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Christian Eriksen and Viktor Fischer.

Despite being injured for parts of the 2015/16 season, Dolberg scored 8 goals for the Ajax U19s and made an instant impression. New Ajax manager, Peter Bosz, promoted the 18-year-old to the first team this summer. He was duly rewarded when the striker scored on his debut against PAOK and then followed it up with a brace on his league debut against Roda JC.

Dolberg is an extremely versatile forward who can play across the front-line. Although he is comfortable out wide, with him being 6″1, his future surely lies in the middle of the park as a No9. He is skillful on the ball and has great technical ability. This helps with his dribbling as he likes to run at his opponents using his pace. Despite his tender years he looks very experienced and also works very hard off the ball.

Ajax have never been shy giving young forwards a chance. When given the opportunity, the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Luis Suárez have shone. Their fans will be hoping that he follows in their footsteps. It looks like Dolberg will cement his place in the team during the course of the season and then it is up to him to grasp his chance and become the next great Ajax No9.

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He has scored 16 goals this season, he’s 1.86 metres tall, he’s Polish, he has great shooting and finishing ability: he may not be Lewandowski, but at 22 years-old he has the potential to be considered amongst the best strikers in Europe.

Milik has developed into a hot prospect since signing for Ajax and he is continuing to show all of the qualities needed to be a top striker for many years to come. His former teams Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg didn’t believe in him. And two seasons later he is proving them wrong, having just scored against PSV, in the match between two Dutch giants, putting Ajax in pole position to claim the Eredivisie title.

He’s predominantly an old-style centre forward, however he does possess the technical qualities and versatility to shine in the modern game. He is physically imposing and is a great aerial talent. Not only is he a threat in the air, but he has also scored a number or great volleys.  He has wonderful finishing and passing ability and has contributed 16 goals and 8 assists this season in the Eredivisie. He also displays  good positioning and teamwork,  and is not afraid to help his team defend. An outstanding player for his fair play too: referees have shown to him just 3 yellow card this season.

His only weakness is his mentality: he’s composed and brave, but he has to be more aggressive, to improve his ball stealing qualities and tackling. He could develop some technical attributes such as his free kicks and long range passing, however the main qualities of his role are at his disposal.

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At the age of 20, he outperformed what the former Ajax strikers Ibrahimovic and Suarez did at the same age, proving his fantastic qualities as a forward. Now the rumours about a transfer to Inter Milan are very persistent, assuming, as expected Mauro Icardi moves on to pastures new: would Milik be the ideal replacement? In the recent past Arsenal and Leicester scouted him too.

Don Balòn put him in the best talent list for 2015: as with a lot of Ajax youngsters who have risen from Netherlands’ best academy (and one of Europe’s best too).

Milik has been called by the Polish National team and joined Lewandowski in a sensational attacking duo. He first played for the national team in 2012 at the age of  19 years old. Since then he has played 22 matches and scored 10 goals. This year we’ll surely see him in Euro 2016: in his group are the World Champions (Germany), Ukraine and North Ireland. He has a great chance to show his talent and will be helped by some top players such as Lewandowski, Krychowiak and Blaszczykowski.

He’s young, still underrated and it’s only a matter of time before he will be considered amongst the best forwards in Europe. His qualities as a classical forward mixed with his modern football technical qualities mean he could be the perfect transfer target for an Italian or English team.

At the age of 22, he is ready to play in a top team, although as pointed out he is nowhere near the finished article and has to improve some aspects of his game. Will he stay and continue his development at Ajax or seek a new challenge sooner.  For example, Luis Suarez was 24 when he decided to leave the Dutch giants for the Premier League, in order to complete his development. Zlatan Ibrahimovic decided instead to part from the team at the same age that Milik is now. Which choice would be the best one for the Polish young star? Of course he looks more like Ibrahimovic for his qualities, but may Suarez choice be the best for Arkadiusz?

Good luck for your career, Milik!

About the author – Marco Santanche

Marco was born in Rome and supports Inter because of Luiz Nazario da Lima Ronaldo. He is a Brazilian citizen because of his father’s roots. He played futsal for several years, even in the FIGC (Italian FA) as a winger, playmaker and striker. He is now studying for a degree in finance.



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