The top 10 wonderkids at Ajax & PSV

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Brian Brobbey Jong Ajax 01132019
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Goal looks at the best young players currently waiting for their chance to break through at the top level with the Eredivisie's top two teams

  1. Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax
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    Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax

    He is just 16 years old, but Ryan Gravenberch has already made his Ajax debut and has become a regular for Netherlands Under 19s.

    The central midfielder broke Clarence Seedorf's record as Ajax's youngest ever player when he made a brief appearance against PSV in September. He played a full 90 minutes in the KNVB Beker just a few days later as they trounced amateur side Te Werve, becoming the youngest scorer in the Amsterdam side's history, too.

    He has not turned out for the senior side since, but he is holding his own against professionals as a key player for Jong Ajax, having made 15 appearances in the second division. 

    "I'm pretty tall for a 16-year-old, so sometimes I don't realise that I'm a boy of that age," he said recently. "I feel like I'm just 18 or 19, like those other guys. I'm 16 and now I play against players who are 32. Of course they are physically stronger and also walk more. In the beginning I had to get used to that, but now things are going better."

     

  2. Mohammed Ihattaren | PSV
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    Mohammed Ihattaren | PSV

    The attacking midfielder has been with the Eindhoven giants since 2010 and recently emerged from the youth academy to make his first senior appearances for Mark van Bommel's team.

    The Utrecht native has featured four times in the Eredivisie and already tasted international success at youth level, having lifted the European Championship title with the Under 17s in 2018.

    "Frankly, I'd like to have him with Everton tomorrow, he's so good," Everton technical director Marcel Brands, formerly of PSV, said last week. "But I don't think that's the path he should take. He will need an intermediate step up later. In that respect, Mo is fine at PSV. The club plays European football, he has a great chance of playing time and he is in the national teams."

    He has just turned 17, but Ihattaren is already being tipped to seal a regular place in Netherlands' and PSV's senior sides within a couple of years.

  3. Brian Brobbey | Ajax
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    Brian Brobbey | Ajax

    Brian Brobbey is one of those strikers who makes an immediate impression on anyone watching him.

    Brobbey recently turned 17 but he is currently excelling with Ajax's Under 19s with an awesome 25 goals from 26 games. He has been sailing through the youth academy since joining in 2010 and is blessed with a wealth of talent.

    "Brian Brobbey is the quickest here at Ajax," Under 19s boss John Heitinga told ESPN last month. "He does 30 metres in 3.7 seconds. He is 16, 91 kilogrammes, his body fat is low, and his one leg jumping is higher than Cristiano Ronaldo."

    He has already featured twice for the reserves, so it would be no surprise to see him take on the experienced professionals in the second tier more regularly before long. The Ajax first-team is the target, however, and he hopes to be in it by 2020. If he keeps scoring at this rate, he will likely meet his deadline.

  4. Joël Piroe | PSV
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    Joël Piroe | PSV

    Young striker Joel Piroe was snapped up from Feyenoord's youth system five years and has become known as an exciting striker.

    The 19-year-old is yet to make his first appearance for the first-team, but his exploits for Jong PSV - the reserves team playing in Dutch football's second tier - as well as the Under 19s.

    He has already netted 10 times in just 17 Eerste Divisie appearances this season - including an incredible four goals in a single game against Almere City, while he has also scored against Inter and Tottenham U19s in the UEFA Youth League.

    Last year, Juventus were credited with an interest in the forward, but he is still eyeing a spot in Mark van Bommel's side.

    "I've really enjoyed myself so far, and I'm dreaming of making my debut here in the first team," Piroe said earlier this month. "The coach knows me, he knows what he has in me."

     

  5. Sontje Hansen | Ajax
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    Sontje Hansen | Ajax

    Sontje Hansen is another Ajax prospect excelling at a level beyond his years.

    The 16-year-old looked great for the Under 17s last season and was quickly moved up to the Under 19s this term. 

    Although he was initially seen as a striker, he has been used on both wings and in an attacking midfield role by coach John Heitinga, proving capable of scoring or creating goals from any position.

    Having already shown he is capable of competing with older players, his first-team debut may not be too far away.

  6. Jordan Teze | PSV
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    Jordan Teze | PSV

    Another impressive right-back to emerge from Dutch youth systems, Jordan Teze is well on the path to the PSV first-team.

    The 19-year-old's 15 minute cameo against PEC Zwolle in August remains his only top-flight appearance to date, but the Dutch side have recently tied him down to a new deal that will run until 2021, with an option for an extra season.

    He has been with the Eindhoven club for almost 12 years and has already worked with coach Van Bommel, who oversaw the Under 19s before replacing Phillip Cocu at the helm last summer.

    Teze has been a key player for Jong PSV this term, scoring three times in 14 appearances - most of which have come in the centre of defence.

  7. Victor Jensen | Ajax
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    Victor Jensen | Ajax

    Signed from Copenhagen for €3.5 million in 2017, Victor Jensen became the latest in a long list of Danes to head to Amsterdam.

    The attacking midfielder was introduced to the Under 19s, but he was immediately pushing for a place in the reserves.

    This season, he has made 11 appearances in the second tier with Jong Ajax and seems to be adapting well. 

    The Denmark Under 19 international recently netted his first goal for the Eerste Divisie team, getting the second in a 5-1 win over Roda JC.

  8. Cody Gakpo | PSV
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    Cody Gakpo | PSV

    Young winger Cody Gakpo has already proven himself as a rising star at PSV. 

    The 19-year-old made his first Eredivisie appearance in a cameo against Feyenoord last season, but has already been more involved this campaign.

    The local boy came off the bench to get his first league assist and goal in a 5-0 win at Fortuna Sittard earlier this month before Van Bommel called upon him and Ihattaren to make an impact as they tried to claw their way back against Utrecht last week. 

    With Steven Bergwijn and Hirving Lozano currently holding on to the wing spots in the PSV starting XI, Gakpo faces a difficult task of securing a place but few would bet against him doing so in the near future.

    "At the moment I have to show what I can do in training sessions and with Jong PSV," he said. "What I want is to stay with PSV and wait for my chance and seize it when the time comes."

  9. Nicolas Kuhn | Ajax
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    Nicolas Kuhn | Ajax

    A winger with good technique who does not shy away from physical battles and has a talent for finding the net, Nicolas Kuhn has looked a promising signing since his €2 million move from RB Leipzig in January 2018.  

    After impressing with the Under 19s - he scored six goals in five UEFA Youth League appearances - the German appears to have secured a regular spot in the reserves. The increase in playing time is paying off, too, as the attacker scored his first professional goal in a 3-3 draw against Dordrecht.

  10. Armando Obispo | PSV
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    Armando Obispo | PSV

    The centre-back has been on PSV's books since 2006 and has already been wearing the captain's armband for the reserves at the age of 19.

    An Under 21 international, Obispo made two Eredivisie appearances last term, but is yet to be given a chance with the league leaders this year.

    Obispo has become frustrated with his lack of opportunities, admitting in November: "As it looks now, it's not really positive for me, you have to be honest. 

    "I just keep working hard and hope that I can get a place. In football everything can change very quickly. I have not talked to the coach about my situation yet. I play matches in Jong PSV, so I do have a game rhythm, that's the most important thing, and in the winter we'll see what happens."

    Although he featured in a friendly against Royal Antwerp in January, he is still waiting for his chance to dislodge Daniel Schwaab or Nick Viergever.