How Daley Blind bucks the system at Ajax
Charlie Dear | 13 February 2019
Blind eyeing an upset against Real Madrid
Ajax are finally back in the Champions League knock-out phase for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
We have a preview of tonight’s exciting match-up with Real Madrid right here.
But we turn our attentions to a man who has taken the unusual step of returning to his boyhood club in the peak of his career.
Daley Blind is back at Ajax and thriving in one of the most exciting sides the club has seen in years.
Playing at the biggest club in the world
Rewind to September 2014 and Daley Blind completed a star-studded clutch of signings for Manchester United including Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.
Blind was a massive part of Louis Van Gaal’s Dutch side at the previous summer’s World Cup – this was the stylish midfielder’s break-out moment.
On arrival, the then 24 year-old called United the ‘biggest club in the world’. But that doesn’t always mean it goes well – even for the 2014 Dutch Footballer of Year.
But after making 60 league appearances in two seasons under Van Gaal – the manager was sacked.
The next two campaigns under Jose Mourinho saw his game-time start to evaporate. His dream move was becoming a nightmare.
Bucking the trend
He returned home to Amsterdam last summer and has firmly established himself as a ball-playing centre-half that could still be gracing the Premier League.
But a 28-year-old Dutchman at the peak of his powers shouldn’t be playing in the Eredivisie, should they?
Ajax are famed for their conveyor belt of talent, that now sees their better players leave before the age of 21. They don’t tend to return until their best days are behind them.
In recent times Justin Kluivert, Davinson Sanchez and Jasper Cillessen have all left for some of the best clubs in Europe.
Ajax were desperate to shift 24-year-old club captain Davy Klaasen in 2017 as he was blocking the wheel from turning.
But Blind is such a likeable figure wherever he plays, that it’s actually helping youngsters Perr Schuurs and Mathhijs De Ligt to develop even quicker.
Blind’s consistency at centre-back has helped Ajax to their first Champions League knock-out game in nearly fifteen years.
Whilst Ajax may come unstuck in this tie, from the board’s perspective their job’s already done.
Frenkie De Jong is on his way to Barcelona and the likes of De Ligt and Kasper Dolberg could soon follow.
But Blind will again usher in a new generation with Schuurs being readied for first team football.
The former United man is an anomaly in the Ajax wheel of fortune, but as long Blind continues to prosper and help the younger players, then it’ll all be worth it.
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