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When Davinson Sanchez transferred to Ajax last year, he saw it as a platform to prove himself worthwhile in the game.
“I can learn a lot and achieve my personal goals,” the 20-year-old said. “Ajax is the best club for me to grow as a player.”
Penning a contract that would last till 202, the Amsterdam side expected to have him around for a while to reap the rewards of their €5 million invested in him. However, the Colombian effort in the first team and his outstanding performance has announced him to the world and he might not be with Ajax for the whole of his contract time.
Sanchez, who has been named the club’s player of the year, has been on Barcelona’s radar for a while now, while Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint-German have also indicated interest in him.
To the team skipper, Davy Klaassen, his display calls for it: “He is a beast. I understand why he has been associated with top clubs. He has the stature, the power.”
“There is a danger of a quick departure as Sanchez displays himself so impressively on the European stage,” Ruud Gullit wrote about him in De Telegraaf . “Jaap Stam was the last Ajax player with such defensive qualities.”
The defender has refused to comment on the speculation, just stating it is “a great honour” to be considered good enough for Barcelona. The rumours will not come as a shock to him as he brushed off the opportunity to sign for Barcelona B team last year but as the speculations get stronger, he might have no other choice but to give it a serious consideration.
Sanchez is a priority for Barca. Jeremy Mathieu will likely be leaving the Nou Camp, and Javier Mascherano’s future still a doubt. The Argentine leaving the club would leave a gaping hole in the team and this would see them probing the transfer market for two or three players who can competently take up the role.
Sanchez may be irreplaceable, but the South American who says he “will do anything to succeed in Europe” is already flying high. His Ajax career was put on hold for a while by his participation in Atletico Nacional’s Copa Libertadores campaign, appearing for all games as they claimed the continental title for the first time since year 2000. Although he was not available for the pre-season and the first Champions League qualifier and Eredivide games, he instantly became a hit with Peter Bosz, playing regularly for the team.
The Eredivise has been a success and he has been instrumental to the in propelling them towards their first European final since two decades.
“I am a spirited defender who likes to have the ball at his feet. That’s one of my strengths,” he said.
It’s obvious he likes to be at the fore front of the game. He has completed more passes than any other player in the Eredivise. His style of play is similar to that of Ajax, and he has managed to pick up five goals
That urgency is evident throughout his game as he challenges and closes down every ball. Although his timing is good, he is too eager to go sliding in even though he makes great use of his body when he stays up. That need to go straight for the ball instead of watching his man can leave gaps in the defence, which left Ajax fragile at times against Schalke in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final when they attacked with width and speed.
He possesses strength and height which gives him an edge in the air – Nick Viergever is the only player who surpasses his record of aerial duels, and he has netted three from 15 headed attempts.
His debut season has been a revelation and his future at the club has been put in question. Playing for a young and vibrant team hoping to have a distinguished campaign will give the much needed opportunity to grow.
“On the streets, fans like getting a picture with me and I see positive reactions,” Sanchez said in an interview with Voetbal International last month. “Of course, I find that beautiful, and from the first day the club has helped everyone feel at home. My girlfriend has come along, and my mother and two brothers have also been over. They see that I’m alright here and that I know how to find my way.
“In South America, Ajax is known as the pathway to a rewarding career in Europe. I just got here, I want to be of great value to the club before I take the next step.”
A powerful display which led Ajax to a 4-1 victory over Lyon in the first-leg would tell his worth to the footballing world and his exit from the club might come sooner than expected.