Ajax's Quincy Promes gamble paying off
Background Image: Markus Unger, CC-BY-2.0
In a summer where five prodigious talents departed Amsterdam for almost €200m, a 27-year-old Sevilla outcast was Ajax's biggest signing. Quincy Promes' reputation suffered a hit in Spain. He is reshaping it, justifying the Eredivisie champions' gamble.
Ajax is long-famed for its academy. Johan Cruyff, Ruud Krol, Arie Haan and Jonny Repp helped win three European Cups in the 1970s. Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard starred in the next decade, before making way for Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf in the nineties.
Sons of God continues to brew more exciting talents. Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Justin Kluivert are among the most recent to roll off its well-tuned production line. However, keeping hold of them remains a bane.
Its an Eredivisie thing; faced with an ever-increasing challenge of competing with the riches swirling in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy. While Kluivert moved to Roma for €17.25m in 2018, De Jong and de Ligt joined Barcelona and Juventus respectively for a combined €160m.
Replacing these starlets is another issue. Ajax often turns to another bunch. These days, though, experience comes with the package. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (37) from Schalke 04 in 2017, Daley Blind (29) and Dusan Tadic (30) both from the Premier League in 2018 and Promes (27) last term from Sevilla.
The Dutchman is already surpassing expectations. Promes boasts an impeccable record in the final third. He found the net six times in eight Eredivisie starts. He opened his account at PSV in August, added three at Fortuna Sittard then notched the winner at RKC Waalwijk.
Promes' tally is only bettered by two players; PSV's Donyell Malen and teammate Tadic. The 27-year-old is way ahead of his skipper for minutes-per-goal, with a strike in every 117 minutes against 141. Malen buries an opportunity in every game.
While many may scoff at his Eredivisie credentials, Promes has proven to be equally prolific elsewhere. The Dutchman struck 59 in 115 appearances for Spartak Moscow. His unimpressive year in Seville yielded five. Two previous Eredivisie seasons produced 38 goals. For l'Oranje, he's found the net seven times in 37 appearances.
Although burying chances essentially lies with the top striker, the middlemen require service. Promes crafts openings for teammates. He's been involved in two goals at Ajax. The 27-year-old has always done so with reckless abandon throughout his career. In 76 matches with Twente Enschede and Go Ahead Eagles, he bagged 19 helpers. In 115 with Spartak, he assisted 31.
Although overawed by Chelsea on Wednesday, Promes has been a menace in the Champions League. He registered two goals in his opening two matches and was unlucky against the Blues. The Dutchman thought he had given his side the lead after 34 minutes but his effort was ruled out by VAR. Promes is proving to be Erik ten Haag's hatchetman.
His sheer pace and movement enable him to creep into dangerous areas. Unusual for a winger, Promes regularly finds deadly attacking positions and acts as an auxiliary forward. He has played through the middle on a number of occasions, too.
Promes' versatility, tactical flexibility and intelligence have given his boss plenty of options. He's been deployed across all positions in the final third. His ability and willingness to move beyond the striker and threaten the opposition goal also make him a more flexible option. His wickedly powerful shot means he is always a threat from almost anywhere.
Ajax should certainly be proud of another masterstroke in the last shopping window, working wonders with Quincy Promes...