The Ajax way with Cruyff is to play 4-3-3, with one No 6 and two No 8s, but the current team is slightly different because De Jong is better if he can drop in and then start playing. So theyve decided to play with two No 6s – Lasse Schöne and De Jong – and one No 10, who is Donny van de Beek. Watch him. He was a 13-year-old kid in the youth system when I was the Ajax manager. So the system is 4-2-3-1, although Van de Beek is playing high up. Hes almost like a nine-and-a-half.
0:26 Erik ten Hag on Ajaxs unfair advantage in Champions League match at Spurs – video Hakim Ziyech is on the right wing but he is more like a midfield player. He drifts in, plays in spaces and he is a passer. If he has got the ball, the others will attack the spaces and run in behind. David Neres, the Brazilian, who is a very good talent, comes off the left and Dusan Tadic, the old Southampton player, is up front, even though he is not a No 9. But Tadic plays there and that is very difficult for big centre-halves like Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
If I was Spurs, I would sign Ziyech. He is not the strongest but he is developing into a very good player. There is one thing. Look at Tadic. He was an average player in the Premier League but in the Netherlands, he is one of the best in the league. In the Netherlands, its not as difficult as people think.
Frenkie de Jong says he must stay hungry to keep improving
Ajax play first press all the time. They play high up. But remember what José Mourinho did with Manchester United in the 2017 Europa League final against Ajax? He did not build up. As soon as you build up against Ajax, they will get the ball high up because their first press is amazing. But if Spurs can avoid the first press, their next pass can be deadly.
Ajax midfielder De Jong: I wont be Barcelona starter
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Martin Jol, pictured as Tottenhams manager in 2005. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer Ajaxs centre-half Matthijs de Ligt is probably the best young defender in Europe now – he will go for €80m or something this summer to Barcelona, United or wherever – and the left-back, Nicolás Tagliafico, is very good going forward. But if he is going forward, there is always space behind him.
In general I have no problems with it [his price tag]. Everyone is free to say something about me. I think I have a reasonable idea of what I can improve.
Christian Eriksen could get Spurs players into that area but who? They need runners but they dont have runners for the first leg, with Son Heung-min suspended and Harry Kane injured. Maybe Lucas Moura can come into the space but not Fernando Llorente. He is too immobile.
Video: De Jong, De Ligt & Ziyech: How Ajax built a team that could win the Champions League | BBC Sport
Liverpool transfer news: Reds urged to sign Ajax starlet Matthijs de Ligt by former Netherlands international
Id like to see Spurs play 3-4-3. If they play like Ajax – 4-2-3-1 – they will have a big problem with Ziyech spare
With Llorente, you have to play on the front foot all the time, you have to attack and dominate and play in their box. But Ajax play through you and hit you on the break. Spurs are also very good with the first press but Ajax could play around them, particularly with De Jong. As a Spurs man, that is my worry.
I will be sad to see Harry Winks miss out and Id worry if Moussa Sissoko did not make it because you need somebody who can break up the transitions, which Ajax are very good at. Maybe Eric Dier can do that. Id like to see Spurs play 3-4-3 and then theyd have a good chance. If they play like Ajax – 4-2-3-1 – they will have a big problem with Ziyech as the spare midfielder.
21-year-old forward David Neres is yet another name you should get accustomed to reading on the newspapers. While Vinicius Junior limped off with an injury while his team were battered 4-1 by Ajax, an impressive show by Neres at the other end won him a place in the Brazil squad that was vacated by the formers injury. The winger then appeared as a substitute in Brazils friendly against Chile.
The thing about Ajax is they dont care one bit about Spurs. Or Real Madrid, or Juventus – both of whom theyve outplayed and beaten away from home this season. They play a bit like the Netherlands 25 years ago. When they play against the biggest teams, they are so good because they dont care. Its going to be a fascinating game.
19-year-old De Ligt recently became the youngest player to captain a side featuring in the knockout stage of the Champions League. At 17, he started in a Europa League final against Manchester United. The defender has shown great maturity for his age and displayed attributes that sets him apart from other players of his age. His ability to read the game and prevent danger is commendable.
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Liverpool have been urged to make a smart move for Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, with Mario Melchiot considering his fellow Dutchman to be the perfect partner for Virgil van Dijk.
Ajaxs youngsters are the talk of the town now. De Jong is on his way to Barcelona in the summer and De Ligt is set to follow him. It wont be long until Neres finds a way out too. But before that, they have unfinished business in the UEFA Champions League, starting with a first leg semifinal against Tottenham Hotspur.
The highly-rated 19-year-old already operates alongside a £75 million ($97m) centre-half at international level with the Netherlands.
Jurgen Klopp will have to move quickly, though, if such a deal is to be done, with De Ligt attracting admiring glances from leading sides across Europe.
Barcelona and Juventus are among those leading the hunt, but former Ajax star Melchiot believes Anfield could be the ideal destination for the current holder of the prestigious Golden Boy award.
He has been linked with a move to Barcelona to join team-mate Frenkie de Jong, who has already agreed a €75million summer switch to Camp Nou, while a host of other European giants are also said to be interested in the youngster – including Liverpool.
He told talkSPORT: My boys at Ajax are of course going to try and hold onto him for as long as they can, but they know theyre coming into a difficult situation with De Ligt.
He went through a very difficult spell when he first broke through because he made a couple of mistakes for the national team so the country was jumping on his back.
For now, the only thing they have to go off is an answer given by the player himself on a podcast with his current club, Ajax. The midfielder said he doesnt “expect to start” at Barça. The comments are surprising, above all because he arrives as a star following Ajaxs elimination of Real Madrid and Juventus in the Champsions League.
Barcelona-bound Ajax star Frenkie De Jong: “Dont expect to be in Starting XI right away”
They have already sanctioned a €75 million (£65m/$85m) switch for Barcelona for Frenkie de Jong and are expected to see a number of other players head for the exits in the next transfer window.
Interest has built steadily in the prized assets within an exciting young squad, with the Eredivisie title hopefuls having showcased their talent this season during a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals.
Matthijs De Ligt makes transfer price tag prediction amid Manchester United and Man City links
They are due to be back in European action on Tuesday when they take in the first leg of a last-four showdown with Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.