The transfer market is ever-changing, with each new day bringing a slew of rumours and links to the attention of the world’s football fans. Young players are frequently at the forefront of these stories, with any and all remotely talented youngsters garnering reports of impending moves away from their club at one point or another. A recent development, pushed through by Italian paper La Repubblica, is that Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam have joined the fight to sign AC Milan’s much-touted prospect Hachim Mastour. The Eredivisie runner-ups would take the midfielder on loan, or else offer a sum in the range of €5 million in order to bring him to the Netherlands on a permanent basis. Such a transfer, whether it be a loan or a sale, represents an excellent opportunity for Milan, Ajax, and most importantly, Mastour himself.
Gaining attention after appearing in Youtube videos showing off his juggling skills, Mastour quickly amassed a cult following which touted the Moroccan-Italian as a future star. Making waves with Milan’s youth sides, Mastour’s superiority over his peers eventually led to then-Primavera coach Filippo Inzaghi selecting him for the U-19 Rossoneri team, despite the protégé being just 15 at the time. Not long after, he gained his first senior Milan callup, appearing on the bench once during Clarence Seedorf’s short and ill-ended reign as manager. Under Inzaghi’s term last season, he was featured in the squad a further five times but never made his full debut, much to the outrage of a small sector of Milanisti. Hopes of seeing the youngster make strides into Milans first team were further dashed with the appointment of Sinisa Mihajlovic as Milan’s new coach and subsequent incoming transfers, as well as the return of several loanees. This left the club with two options, sending Mastour back down to the Primavera rather than seeing him rot on the bench, or shipping him away from the San Siro, on loan or otherwise.
Enter Ajax, stage left.
Mastour’s latest suitors have arrived somewhat late to the party, with clubs such as PSG already heavily linked with a swoop for the starlet for a number of days. However, the latecomers would certainly be both the best destination and a smart choice for Milan’s newly-christened Morocco international. Ajax have been at the forefront of talent development for many decades, with countless past and present stars of world football making their first steps with the Dutch giants. The Dutch Eredivisie has also long been a haven for youngsters to make big strides, with players such as Vitesse’s Bertrand Traore, Feyenoord’s Sven van Beek, and Ajax’s own Anwar El Ghazi & Ricardo Kishna all enjoying highly productive campaigns last season despite being no more than 20 years old. At the Amsterdam ArenA Mastour would fit right in alongside the likes of Jairo Riedewald and Daley Sinkgraven, who made big strides into Frank de Boer’s first team last despite being teenagers. He would experience much less pressure and have the opportunity to learn from some of the best talent developers in the world, molding and perfecting his raw, highly malleable skills.
Should Mastour go off on his Dutch adventure on loan, he would return to Milan a new man, obtaining a wealth of experience and knowledge that no club in Italy could ever hope to provide. Even if Mastour would not end up a week in, week out starter, he would nonetheless experience top-flight football in all its glory more than a few times throughout the season, and could even have a shot at lifting a trophy with his temporary club. Once back in Milan, a good campaign with Ajax could spell further inroads into the Rossoneri first team, and hopefully with time, a permanent spot. If, however, Milan decide to cash in on their unpredictable asset, Mastour’s Dutch buyers would have themselves a lump of clay which the genius of Frank de Boer and his coaching staff could someday mold into a champion.