In Focus: Ajax star Brobbey could be Ten Hag's next Dutch import
Manchester United signed a number of players from the Eredivisie over the summer — and Ajax striker Brian Brobbey is the next man tipped to make his way to Old Trafford.
The hitman, 20, has made an excellent start to the season and former boss Erik ten Hag, now in charge at Old Trafford, is said to be a huge admirer.
As Liverpool prepare to visit Amsterdam in the Champions League tonight, we turn the spotlight on Ajax's latest young sensation.
A highly-rated product of Ajax’s famed academy, Brobbey left his boyhood club to join RB Lepizig in the summer of 2021.
But only six months and nine Bundesliga appearances later, he was back in the Dutch capital and working under Ten Hag once again.
Initially rejoining on loan, Brobbey impressed with seven goals in 11 Eredivisie appearances during the second half of the campaign.
But while Ten Hag left for Manchester in the summer, Ajax made Brobbey’s return permanent for a reported £14million and he has already bettered last season’s tally — netting eight in 11 league outings.
With pace, strength and deadly finishing, it is easy to see why Ten Hag may see Brobbey as well suited for the English top flight.
Only PSV’s Cody Gakpo — widely tipped for a big-money move to one of Europe’s top clubs — has bettered the Ajax man's goal return this term.
That is made all the more impressive when you factor in that he has started only seven of their 11 league outings as he battles for a place with another highly-rated star in Mohammed Kudus.
The Ghanaian briefly took Brobbey’s place in the starting XI after a number of goalscoring displays — including against Liverpool in the reverse fixture at Anfield.
On the healthy rivalry, Brobbey said: "We have a good competition. He does his thing, I do my thing. We only make each other better.
"Kudus scored almost every game. If I did, I wouldn't think it fair if the trainer then takes me out. So I understood the choice."
Having netted five goals in his last three games, Brobbey will expect to hold onto his place in the coming weeks.
Theatre of his Dreams
Though he is only a few months into his return as a permanent Ajax player, Brobbey has made no secret that he would like to end up at United later down the line.
And it seems the feeling is mutual, with the striker revealing Ten Hag tried to snap him up in the summer.
He told Voetbal International: "Dream club? Manchester United. Erik sent me a message, yes, to congratulate me, and to tell me that he would like to have me at Manchester United.
"But I’m not finished at Ajax yet, I want to show something here first.
"I absolutely wanted to go to Ajax. Erik also wanted to work with me, texted once if I was open to it, but I thanked him nicely."
The right place
At 20, Brobbey knows that move may still be there for him in the future if he continues with his current form.
With Ajax a club known for nurturing young talent, the Netherlands Under-21s international is in the perfect place for his development right now.
On his return to Ajax, Brobbey added: "I wanted to go back. My friends here, Ajax’s playing style, it just wasn’t finished yet.
"I first have to really succeed here as a striker of Ajax. That’s also how the past six months felt, when I played here on a rental basis.
"I really had the feeling afterwards: I really have to go back. Believe me, in a few years I will provide a nice transfer fee for Ajax and then the club will have made a nice profit."
For all his excellent displays domestically, Brobbey is yet to get off the mark in Europe this term having started all four of their Champions League outings from the bench.
Since a 4-0 win over Rangers on Matchday 1, the Eredivisie champions have lost three straight games — shipping a combined 10 goals across two meetings with Napoli.
Qualification to the knockout stages looks a tall order with Ajax sitting six points behind the Reds in Group A with two games to play.
In a 4-2 reverse in Naples a fortnight ago, Alfred Schreuder’s decision to continue to play Kudus over Brobbey was heavily criticised as the Dutchman comes under increasing pressure.
He said: "If I don't get the time from Ajax, I couldn't care less! Then they have to sack me! Mohammed [Kudus] as a striker, eight goals in eight or nine games
"You can't tell me he's a bad option as a striker. Losing to Napoli is not about Kudus or Brian [Brobbey]! Napoli just has more quality!"
With Ajax at a last-chance saloon and Brobbey in red-hot scoring form, it may be time to get his chance to shine on the big stage.