Nicolás Tagliafico has been part of the regular core in the Ajax team for two and a half years, but the team from Amsterdam must again fear the Argentinian’s departure in the coming winter break. Manchester City already spoke to him last summer and will return early next year to take over the wing defender from Ajax. It would be a major setback for coach Erik ten Hag, who is going to push for a replacement.
Nicolás Tagliafico arrived in the capital in the winter of 2018 at the age of 25 at the same time as Ten Hag. During the first league match against Feyenoord, he immediately appeared in the starting team and, apart from injuries and suspensions, he never disappeared from the team. With the Argentinian at the forefront of the fight, Ajax has achieved wonderful results against Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus and Chelsea in recent years. It resulted in the semi-final of the Champions League, a championship, cup win and Johan Cruijff Shield.
Interesse Manchester City
It is therefore not surprising that Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester City are very interested in Tagliafico. Coach Pep Guardiola’s club became the most concrete. Manchester City already spoke to the Argentinian several times during the long summer break to talk about a switch to England. Before the transfer could take place, however, the English had to sell Oleksandr Zinchenko first. Unfortunately, that did not work during the transfer period, which meant that interest in Tagliafico was put on the back burner.
Due to the mediocre competition start of Manchester City, the club is still thinking about the Ajax defender for next winter. Tagliafico still has a contract in Amsterdam that runs until the summer of 2022, which means that Ajax must sell him quickly to maintain the asking price of 25 million euros. Another option for the Dutch record champion is to upgrade and extend Tagliafico’s contract, but the question is whether Tagliafico is open to that. The Ajax player indicated at an earlier stage that he had a wish to leave.
It is clear that the Manchester City defense is not yet performing as Guardiola expects from his defense. In five games, the English top club conceded no fewer than eight goals, five of which were in the home game against Leicester City (2-5 loss, ed.). During this top match in the Premier League, the home team’s defense, consisting of Kyle Walker, Eric Garcia Nathan Aké and Benjamin Mendy, did not get a grip on center forward Jamie Vardy and ultimately had to accept three penalties, all of which went into goal. The Guardiola team could use some poison in the defense, which Tagliafico can definitely take care of.
Despite Tagliafico with a transfer to Manchester City to play at a higher level than the national Eredivisie, not much will change for the footballer. Under Guardiola, the English play football that is derived from the philosophy of Johan Cruijff, and which therefore has an indirect connection with the game that Ajax brings to the mat. Moreover, Erik ten Hag, as is known in the past, worked at Bayern Munich together with Guardiola and has incorporated various playing principles of the Spaniard into his game. As a result, Tagliafico fits perfectly into the way of putting pressure and building up and the dynamics on the left side does not have to cause any problems either.
Ten Hag had not been determined before happy with the departure of Sergino Dest, who left for Barcelona, Marc Overmars will therefore give the assignment to keep Tagliafico this winter at all costs. On the other hand, Tagliafico extended his contract in the summer of 2019 with the guarantee from Ajax that the club will cooperate in the future when a foreign club is interested. This, in combination with the financial setbacks due to the corona virus, will most likely result in the Amsterdammers not immediately saying ‘no’ to Manchester City during the winter break, although it remains to be seen whether the English club can reach the asking price of 25 million euros and / or wants to lay.
Should Tagliafico still move towards the Premier League, then the team from Amsterdam will have to look for a suitable successor for the left back position. With the amount of poison, dynamics and hardness that Tagliafico brings into an average match, it is certainly not easy to just replace him one-on-one. Still, there are players who can handle that position very well. When Ajax looks in the Eredivisie, Marc Overmars’ eye, as is known, falls on AZ defender Owen Wijndal. The left back was part of the success team of the Alkmaarders last season, which competed for the national championship together with Ajax.
In addition, the Amsterdammers are of course dependent on the asking price that AZ uses. When Ajax manages to receive between 20 and 25 million euros for Tagliafico, the Alkmaarders will undoubtedly want to see a considerable part of that amount back in the sale of Wijndal. If Overmars does not agree with this, Ajax must look further. In the other part of the Dutch league, however, there are no backs around that make Ajax better and the possibilities abroad are also nil, except for an old acquaintance.
However, the Dutch top club also has the opportunity to look within its own team. For example, Ten Hag has already shown in the past to be charmed by Lisandro Martínez, who mainly acted in midfield last season. Tagliafico’s compatriot, however, is a defender by nature and already serves as a backup for Tagliafico at the moment. A follow-up by the Argentinian is therefore the most obvious. He has the necessary poison and perseverance to take on the European top. Daley Blind is also a possibility in that position, although Ten Hag prefers to keep the experienced strength in the center of the field.
Another option of the Amsterdammers could be to keep Tagliafico in the Netherlands during the winter and not let him go until next summer. Then Ajax must manage to have Tagliafico renew his contract again, because otherwise the footballer will leave after the season for a lot less than the asking price from Amsterdam. On the other hand, that may well result in a championship and thus Champions League football, which means that the club will earn back the amount more than once.
POLL: Who is a suitable successor for Tagliafico?
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