Football News

Dusan Tadic “surprised” by progress of Ajax’s unsung hero

By Ben Green

Published: 11:02, 14 May 2019 | Updated: 16:49, 14 September 2021

Dusan Tadic has explained how Donny van de Beek has impressed him the most of his Ajax teammates this season, despite praise most commonly being directed at Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.

The Amsterdammers all but secured a 26th Eredivisie title on Sunday after coming from a goal behind to thrash Utrecht 4-1.

Has Van de Beek impressed the most? Five key things to know…

  1. Ajax stunned football fans across the globe by reaching the Champions League semi-finals this season.
  2. A policy of combining youth with experience has helped catapult Erik ten Hag’s side to continental stardom.
  3. Among the academy products to announce themselves at elite level this term have been De Jong and De Ligt, with the former securing a big-money move to Barcelona.
  4. Meanwhile Van de Beek has largely gone under the radar, though his goals have been crucial and his work rate insatiable.
  5. As such, Tadic has now ranked Van de Beek’s influence above those of his young teammates.

Van de Beek netted the second at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in what was his 16th goal of the season across all competitions.

And while De Jong and De Ligt have mostly stolen the headlines throughout the season, with the latter likely to dominate the rumour mill this summer, Van de Beek has been just as influential to De Godenzonen‘s sensational campaign.

Tadic, who joined the club from Southampton last summer, recently stated in an interview with De Telegraaf that he has been “surprised” by the rapid progress of his 22-year-old teammate.

He said: “Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek have made an enormous amount of progress, but Donny has surprised me the most.

“He started to live even more for football. Donny likes to listen to the older players, has started to pay more attention to his diet and to train harder in the gym.

“If you saw it at the start of the season and see it now, that’s a world of difference. Magnificent.”

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Pochettino in awe of Van de Beek

Tadic wasn’t the only one who reserved special praise for the five-time Dutch international, with Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino recently expressing his admiration for the midfielder.

Prior to Spurs’ dramatic 3-3 aggregate win over Ajax in the Champions League semi-final, Pochettino outlined his praise for Van de Beek in an interview with El Pais.

He said: “Van de Beek. Nobody talks much about him. He gets behind Tadic, he arrives, he works, he scores goals.

“Logically, I love De Jong and De Ligt. But the example of the operation of this Ajax is Van de Beek. I like [him] very much. They have a young player, from the academy, in each line, that shows what the team is.”