Few clubs are more well-known for their youth development than Ajax. Many of the best players in the Netherlands came through Ajax’s famous academy, widely regarded as one of the world’s finest. Ajax also recruits foreign players at young ages — including many from neighboring Belgium.
Three of Belgium’s most capped defenders — Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, and Jan Vertonghen — all signed for the Dutch side by the time they turned 18. Club Brugge icon Mats Rits joined Ajax when he was 17. Overall, nine Ajax players have gone on to be capped at senior level by Belgium.
Ajax has continued to recruit from Belgium, with several Belgian players on their various youth teams currently. There’s one prospect turning heads right now — Stanis Idumbo Muzambo.
CAM Stanis Idumbo Muzambo, 17, Ajax
Stanis Idumbo Muzambo was born in France and holds French, Congolese, and Belgian citizenship. He joined Belgian side Club Brugge’s academy at a young age but left when he was 12, joining fellow Belgian side KAA Gent.
Four years later, Muzambo was on the move again, this time heading to Amsterdam with Ajax. Last season he split time between Ajax’s U17 and U18 sides, finishing with a combined eight goals and six assists in 21 games. The highlight of his season was at U17 level against rivals Feyenoord, scoring both goals in a 2-1 victory.
In May, Muzambo was chosen to represent Belgium in the U17 Euros. While an unsuccessful tournament for Belgium, who failed to make it out of the group stages, Muzambo impressed and scored two of Belgium’s four goals.
Now with the U18 team, he started the season with a goal and an assist in the Dutch U18 Cup. In the U18 Eredivisie (the Dutch top flight), he’s found the back of the net three times, with two assists in just four matches. In the UEFA Youth League (the youth equivalent of the Champions League), he’s continued that form: three goals and one assist, including a brace against Napoli.
Muzambo has great attributes for a CAM (central attacking midfielder). He’s got a powerful shot, scoring from long distances on several occasions, and is great at finding teammates with his impressive passing. He’s fast, and his dribbling makes him difficult to steal the ball from. On defense, he’s a hard-working player who often wins the ball back in dangerous positions.
Muzambo is going to stay with Ajax’s U18s for a little longer, but by the end of the season, he’ll likely be playing at a higher level. The next step up is the Ajax U21s, who play in the second tier of the Netherlands but a direct promotion to the first team isn’t impossible. Ajax have a busy schedule this year and are known for giving young players a chance, so he could make an appearance at senior level by the end of the year.
With Muzambo, Ajax have a top talent on their hands. It’s only a matter of time before he shows his talent on a bigger stage.
Note: this article has been edited to add additional information about Muzambo’s international eligibility. Thanks to our readers for catching this.
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