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Why Ajax can go toe-to-toe with giants Man Utd, Barcelona in Daley Sinkgraven battle

"Please let him stay with us for a few years. Daley has incredible talent." - Dwight Lodeweges.

Dwight Lodeweges's plea to Europe's elite to leave Daley Sinkgraven alone and let him develop with SC Heerenveen was not unexpected. Nor has it come out of the blue.

With every round this season, Sinkgraven's impact at Heerenveen and on the Eredivisie has grown - as has his reputation across Europe.

After a summer of doom-and-gloom, with his team now sitting sixth on the table, Heerenveen coach Lodeweges knows how crucial Sinkgraven's influence has been in the opening rounds of the new season.

But the 19 year-old's impact has come as no surprise, with Lodeweges pushing Heerenveen to resist enquiries in the final days of the summer market from Ajax for the young midfielder. The 56 year-old allowed Hakim Ziyech to be sold to FC Twente without protest, knowing Sinkgraven was ready to fill the void.

"Daley can turn on a dime. He was played out of position when Ziyech was in the team, but now he is in the middle and this is where he is at his best," enthused Lodeweges earlier this season.

"He is a young, very talented player.

"It's unbelievable how he can turn in such a tight space - and he sees everything around him."

Lodeweges, who has coached around the world, admits some of the things Sinkgraven does in games takes his breath away.

"He has this ability to camouflage what he intends to do.

"If you watch a game, you can usually predict what the players are about to do. But the very good players do things that make you say 'whoah'!

"And that's exactly what Daley does. He makes very difficult things seem so easy. You go to the stadium to see players like Daley." That enthusiastic backing is now being rewarded, but Sinkgraven's stunning form, which was drawn comparisons with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, is also attracting the interest of Europe's biggest clubs, including Louis van Gaal's Manchester United and Barcelona.

Ajax's late interest in the summer came after the sale of Daley Blind to Manchester United. Like Lodeweges, Ajax coach Frank de Boer has no doubts about Sinkgraven's potential - and also agrees with his Heerenveen counterpart how best the player's development will be served.

"Daley Sinkgraven is a good player, but he is still very young. Let's leave Daley to continue as he is with Heerenveen," said De Boer.

Sinkgraven admits he's had contact with Ajax, but leaning on the advice of his father, Harry, feels his best option is to remain with his current club.

"I just want to do my best at SC Heerenveen and I hope to be able to make the step to a higher club," he said.

"There has been contact with Ajax, but that is no longer important. Now I focus on SC Heerenveen."

Sinkgraven's father was a former pro with FC Groningen, SC Cambuur and FC Zwolle.

"When making such a decision you weigh up everything. You should think about it. My father's experience helps me with that. I'm lucky in that respect."

Should Heerenveen be forced to sell, they will do so confident of getting top price. Sinkgraven was convinced to pen a new three-year deal, with the option of a further two years, before the end of last season.

Dutch coaching legend Co Adriaanse is another member of the Sinkgraven fan club. The former Ajax and Porto coach sees the youngster as a natural No10.

"He is among an exciting batch of newcomers," says the pundit. "Sinkgraven is the new No10 of Heerenveen.

"He's the new Ziyech, but perhaps better in transition and defensively. Also when his team is caught out, he is dangerous. He is able to pass through trouble."

With all this gushing praise, it seems inevitable that Sinkgraven will leave Heerenveen sooner rather than later. But while United and Barcelona circle, the youngster hints his next move may still be within the Eredivisie.

"You cannot immediately go from Heerenveen to Barcelona, there is an intermediate step is required.

"What would b e a nice intermediate step? I cannot really think about. Ajax? Yes. You're right, yes..."


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