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One To Watch: Ajax starlet Hato could be worth the wait for Arsenal
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Dan Fitch
Jorrel Hato has attracted attention from Arsenal
Jorrel Hato has attracted attention from Arsenal

Jorrel Hato is the latest top talent to roll off the conveyer belt at Ajax. 

The 17-year-old has become a regular for the Dutch giants this season and won his first cap for the Netherlands last November.

His rapid progression has seen the versatile defender linked with a move to Arsenal. 

Ahead of Ajax's trip to Go Ahead Eagles on Sunday, we put Hato under the spotlight. 

Arsenal dream

Hato gave his thoughts about joining Arsenal when previously discussing Jurrien Timber's move from Ajax to North London.

The teenager said: "Unfortunately he was seriously injured in his first Premier League game for Arsenal but he is still young and has a bright future ahead of him.

"In any case, the move to Arsenal was a wonderful one for him.

"It is also my dream to one day make such a transfer but I realise that I still have a very long way to go."

Contracted until 2025, Hato may eventually get such a move but he will not be joining Arsenal this month.

Post-Brexit rules prohibit English clubs from signing overseas players until they are 18, meaning Arsenal would have to wait until the summer after Hato's next birthday in March.

Ajax breakthrough

Jorrel Hato joined Ajax's academy from Sparta Rotterdam in 2018
Jorrel Hato joined Ajax's academy from Sparta Rotterdam in 2018

Remaining at Ajax for the time being may prove the best for Hato's development rather than being thrust into the middle of a Premier League title battle at Arsenal. 

He debuted for the Amsterdam outfit's first team last January aged just 16 and was initially eased into the side with substitute appearances at left-back. 

Hato enjoyed a run of starts towards the end of 2022-23 and made the switch to central defence for the final three matches. 

Following Timber's move to Arsenal, the youngster has taken his opportunity this season to secure his position as Ajax's centre-back, with only the occasional appearance as a full-back. 

Hato made his debut for the Netherlands as a central defender, replacing Virgil van Dijk at half-time in a Euro 2024 qualifier against Gibraltar.

That he has impressed enough to gain senior international recognition says much for the talent of a young player who has shone within Ajax's most troubled season for decades.

After a terrible start to the campaign, John van 't Schip's side have stabilised in recent weeks and are now unbeaten in eight Eredivisie games. 

Hato focus

Jorrel Hato played every minute of Ajax's Europa League group stage campaign
Jorrel Hato played every minute of Ajax's Europa League group stage campaign

Hato opened up about Ajax's struggles and the improvements he is asking of himself. 

He said: "I need to coach more, much more, I think. That's what I'm focusing on the most right now. 

"At Ajax, we want to form a real team on the field, so you have to communicate well. You have to demand things from each other but also help each other, making things easier for all of us. 

"It's a challenging situation but I believe we will come out stronger." 

Though he is pushing himself to be more communicative, the left-footed teenager is already well-developed in other areas. 

His tacking is precise and he is defensively aware. On the ball, the pacey academy graduate is very comfortable and has a good eye for a pass. 

With a mixture of talent, versatility, youth and maturity, it is no surprise that Hato is now a wanted man, even though he has yet to really become one.


Jorrel HatoAjaxEredivisieArsenalPremier League
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