Super Eagles Defender Calvin Bassey have been the subject of immense criticism from some section of Ajax supporters and the Dutch media.
The Nigerian has been vilified and made a scape goat for Ajax poor defensive form in the Champions League this season.
Ajax were put in the same group with Napoli, Liverpool and Rangers and few would bet against Ajax not making it out of the group.
They started the campaign brightly seeing off Rangers 4-0 at home before losing 2-1 to Liverpool thanks to a last minute goal from Joel Matip.
Many will argue Ajax deserved at least a point from the latter as they resiliently held their England counterparts and competed well, but the next three games spelled doom for the Dutch side as they shipped in 13 goals; lost 6-1 to Napoli scandalously in front of their home fans before falling 4-2 away to Napoli and another humbling 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool.
Ajax paid a club record €23 million to price Bassey from Rangers and offered him a 5-year deal, but fans and pundits believes the Nigerian is struggling to meet up with his high price tag and has not shown the quality of an Ajax Player.
Former Dutch Tactician Adriaan de Mos was very vocal and as quoted by Goal, the former Ajax and PSV gaffer claimed that the Nigerian defender is not at the level to play for Ajax, questioning the rationale behind paying a record fee for a player from the Scottish League.
“Bassey is not an Ajax player for me. And I can’t imagine anyway why you would bring a player from the Scottish league to Ajax.
“He has no speed of action, no insight. And before he has turned, a day has passed. There is no feeling in him.”
This criticism mirrors the general believe of Bassey’s strong critics but questions need to be asked else where too.
Ajax’s poor form in Europe doesn’t seem to affect them in the league as they sit top in the Dutch Eredivisie a point off PSV having played a game less.
They also boast the second best defensive and attacking record in the league as de Amsterdammers have scored a total of 38 goals and conceded 10 in 12 matches.
Before the start of the season, Ajax lost both Anthony and Lisandro Martinez – both were important first team players to Manchester United – and some how Alfred Schreuder have been unable to help his side find the form Ajax had shown in the Eredivisie and Europe.
Bassey is an important member of this Ajax set up as his versatility allows him to feature both as a full back or as a center defender that can also pop up as an emergency winger if the need arises.
He has also contributed a goal and three assists this season and has played his part effectively completing all 90 minutes in the matches he has featured in this season helping his team to six clean sheets in all competition.
Bassey needs time to adjust because by all standards, moving from a different league, Culture and playing style is a process that needs time; not every player adapts immediately to a new environment and for Bassey’s contributions so far he needs to be commended.
He can’t be fed to the Wolves when every member of the team should be held responsible for the poor results, after all its a team sport and defending is a collective responsibility.
The coach should shoulder some blame as it is obvious the Players are struggling to cope with the rigour and intensity of European football and it’s no surprise their only victory was against Rangers.
People might want to point at the quality of Napoli and Liverpool, but it’s not enough reason to lose scandalously to this teams – and Liverpool have not been in top gear this season and are beatable just ask Leeds and Nottingham Forest.
Ajax should see Bassey as an asset not a burden, he’s a 22 year-old defender with the ability to play in multiple positions and still has a lot of room to learn and improve.
Bassey’s criticism is unfair, the Nigerian needs time and so far he has not been awful. He’s not the problem at Ajax. They are not struggling in the league and barring any major upset, Ajax are set to compete in the Europa League.
Alfred Schreuder should start looking at ways to improve his team’s general approach to games as they are good enough for the League but not good enough to keep tabs on Napoli and Liverpool.