With Ajax clinching their fourth consecutive Eredivisie title and the squad at Frank de Boer’s disposal full of young stars, it is only natural that major European clubs will be looking at the Amsterdam outfit’s prize assets.
Despite a number of exciting attacking talents at the Amsterdam Arena, one of the players that has been linked most frequently with a move to Europe’s major leagues is star centre-half Joël Veltman.
Over the last 18 months the 22-year-old has grown in stature in the Ajax first team and played an important role in this season’s title success.
Veltman started 24 domestic games this term, and also had the chance to play consistently in the Champions League.
Representation in senior international football came as no great surprise after Veltman’s participation for Dutch age-grade sides, and a spot on the plane to Brazil looks well within his reach when examining the Oranje’s defensive options.
With Veltman’s stock rising considerably and his level of experience and ability growing, the inevitable move abroad is likely to come in the near future.
However, the young centre-half must chose the timing of leaving his homeland very carefully, while any potential new employers must be thoroughly vetted.
Veltman’s case is not dissimilar to that of Toby Alderweireld. The Belgian starred as a defender for Ajax consistently and was repeatedly linked with a switch away from the Dutch champions for glamorous teams in England and Spain.
Eventually last summer the time came for Alderweireld to jump ship after receiving his footballing education at Ajax’s fabled youth system, with a move to Atlético Madrid gauged as progression in the defender’s career.
Despite the Estadio Vicente Calderón outfit’s success in both domestic and European competitions this term under Diego Simeone, Alderweireld has largely been a spectator.
With Juanfran commanding the right-back slot and Diego Godin and João Miranda pillars in the heart of Los Rojibalncos’ back four, the former Ajax man has been limited to a mere nine La Liga starts in his début campaign in Spain.
Whether Alderweireld looks back on his decision to move to the Spanish capital with regret remains to be seen, but his international chances have certainly been hurt by his lack of regular action at club level.
This summer the ex-Ajax man will need to assess his options, with a move back to Amsterdam potentially a shrewd move.
For Veltman, who is three years younger than Alderweireld, regular first-team football is essential to aid his development and help him to live up to the growing hype.
A situation similar to the one that his former team-mate has experienced at Atlético would be nothing short of a disaster and as such a move needs to be carefully considered.
Despite few being able to argue that the Eredivisie can compete with La Liga or the Premier League, staying at Ajax for at least another 12 months is the smartest option for Veltman.
Players such as Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder should be deemed as good examples to Veltman. Two of the best Dutch players of a generation, the midfielders both played in the Ajax first team for five years before leaving their homeland, decisions which did not inhibit their development in the slightest.
There is no doubting the potential of Veltman to play in one of the major leagues and become a regular at national level. However, in reality the young defender has had one good season at Ajax and needs more time before jumping ship for a new adventure abroad.