Breeding pond: ‘Long’ Dies Janse turns out to be the defensive leader of Ajax U17

In the ‘Kweekvijver’ section, Ajax Showtime zooms in on Ajax’s showpiece every week: the youth academy.

Dies Janse is having a strong season at Ajax Under 17. The central defender forms a good duo with Precious Ugwu in the back and has emerged as the defensive leader of Ajax U17. And that is great of Janse, who has only been playing for Ajax for two years.

Ajax has had a partnership with Sparta Rotterdam for a few years now and Janse exchanged Rotterdam for Amsterdam two years ago as part of that agreement. Like two years older Olivier Aertssen and Diyae Jermoumi, Janse came to Ajax, where he started in the U15 in the summer of 2020. What followed was a short-lived adjustment period in which Janse mainly had to make steps on the ball. He immediately stood out defensively, but at Ajax more is expected from a rearguard player.

Janse managed to make that change quickly. Despite his height, he managed to make good strides on the ball and significantly improve his basic technique. This to the approval of his trainers and the policymakers in the Ajax youth, because Janse was soon passed on. As an O15 player he made his appearance at the O16 and as an O16 player he was even a basic player at the O17 at the end of last season. He is one of the key players in that team this football season. It illustrates how quickly Janse has moved since his arrival from Sparta Rotterdam.

A-typical Ajax appearance

But still, those who look critically do not immediately see Janse as a typical Ajax defender. The Zeeland-born sometimes looks a bit clumsy in his motor skills and certainly does not seem to benefit from his long body. It contrasts with the grace and flexibility of a center defender like Jurriën Timber, but Janse should not be blinded by his somewhat clumsy appearance. Behind those long legs is a surprisingly good football player.

Janse has good insight and is strong in his defensive orientation and positioning. Moreover, Janse has a flawless kicking technique and he can place balls both high and low where he wants. Even under high pressure, Janse often makes the right choices on the ball and ensures that Ajax starts playing from behind. It testifies to Janse’s strong game insight, something that is also reflected in his coaching towards fellow players. As a left center defender, Janse usually has the entire field in front of him and he does not hesitate to direct his fellow players. The left back slightly wider, or the right wing more between the lines; these are matters that do not go unnoticed by Janse and in which he provides direction.

This makes the center defender in the field an important extension of Ajax O17 coach Yuri Rose. Rose usually used Janse as a left back in his team last season, but this season the left leg plays in the heart of the defense. Rose has great confidence in Janse and it is funny to hear how the Ajax coach invariably instructs his center defender from the sidelines with the addition of ‘Lange’. Things like ‘Connect, Lange’, ‘Lovely ball, Lange’ or ‘Fine, Lange’ always echo from Rose’s mouth over the field at Ajax U17 matches.

Due to the strong development of Janse and the shifts that are taking place at the back of Ajax O18 – Jorrel Hato has already played several matches for Jong Ajax and seems to be joining the promises after the winter break – it is obvious that Janse will soon another team moves on. It shows the good steps that the multiple youth international has made at Ajax in the past two years. Janse is already ready for a step higher.

Thys Zwagerman (Twitter: @ThijsZwagerman | email: [email protected])

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