Scouting – A New Age Midfielder : Daley Sinkgraven

Welcome to the third episode of Goalden Times’ scouting series, The Next Big Thing. This time, we have selected Daley Sinkgraven, Ajax’s talented midfielder, who seems ready to take over the world in a few months.

Daley Sinkgraven

There has never been a dearth of talent in Dutch football clubs, especially Ajax,in terms of talented players or most notably in terms of young and emerging talented players who are touted to take the world by storm in the near future.

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So, is Ajax’s exciting January transfer window signing Daley Sinkgraven the next big thing?

Would he replicate the likes of Jari Litmanen, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Denis Bergkamp, Wesley Sneijder and Zlatan Ibrahimovic after addressing the physical aspect of his play? Undoubtedly, his pace, ability to pick out a pass and unerring dribbling skills would go a long way in shaping the future his career holds. But would he fall prey to the hype and sensationalism that surrounds him? Let us  find out!

Country: Netherlands
Club: Ajax
Position: Attacking Midfielder, Central Midfielder, Left Midfielder
Date of Birth: 4th July, 1995
Height: 1.79 meters
Preferred Foot: Left

Career So far

Daley’s career commenced at amateur football club MVV Alcides, which also is his hometown club of Dutch town Meppel, in 2002 when he was six. After spending six years at Alcides, Sinkgraven ended up at Eredivisie club SC Heerenveen’s youth academy, which has produced quality players such as Ruud van Nistelrooy, Daryl Janmaat and Lasse Schone in the past. In 2013-14, Daley’s breakout season, the then 18-year old-made 23 appearances (including three starts) for De Superfriezen in all competitions and made his debut in January against Roda JC Kerkrade.

During that season, Sinkgraven maneuvered a total of 19 key passes and emerged as one of the highly coveted youngsters in the Eredivisie, playing just behind star striker Alfred Finnbogason. And there is  no wonder why he caught the attention of the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool at such a tender age.

Before joining the likes of Viktor Fischer and Lucas Andersen in the famed Ajax bandwagon, Sinkgraven’s true mettle came to the fore. He scored four times, creating a total of 39 chancesand is one big reason why Heerenveen are placed as high as seventh in the table.

In late January, Sinkgraven joined Ajax for a fee of € 7 million and upon signing a long term four and a half year deal, Sinkgraven was handed the No.8 jersey. He made his debut for the Amsterdam based club in a narrow loss at the hands of AZ Alkmaar. Since then, Sinkgraven has appeared seven times for Ajax in the Eredivisie, racking up three  assists and has delivered some stellar performances already which include a more than impressive showing against former club Heerenveen.

On the international stage, Sinkgraven has represented Oranje at Under 17, Under 18, Under 19 and Under 21 stages, but has thus far, failed to do anything significant.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The youngster is among the most assured and reliable dribblers you are  likely to come across in the Eredivisie. And can well be placed in a juxtaposition to the other highly coveted youngsters such as Memphis Depay(who has been phenomenal this season), Adam Maher, Jean-Paul Boetius, who all are older than Sinkgraven in terms of age. Fischer’s incisive dribbling is something which he makes use of predominantly to run at defenses directly.

And being a part of a bandwagon which adheres to being more direct and vertical than their predecessors, he is  among the best in the league.

Player Matches Key Passes Chances Created Assists Successful Take ons (%)
Memphis Depay 25 1.72 1.84 0.12 57.02
Daley Sinkgraven 20 1.85 1.95 0.10 56.25
Jean-Paul Boetius 26 1.15 1.25 0.08 42.31

Stats on per game basis for the 2014-15 season

The graphic above compares Sinkgraven to the other talented attacking midfield players or inside forwards in the Eredivisie. And he leads in three  categories, only to be seconded by PSV hitman Memphis Depay. Jens Toornstra, the PSV attacking midfielder has stats which ostensibly are out of this world but one also must take into account the fact that Toornstra is 25 and a lot mature too.

His specialty is a breathtaking turn which draws the opposition defender out of the picture, followed by a devastating dribble to run at the back four directly. Sinkgraven may well be a dangerous dribbler but he has an eye for a pass too. His no-nonsense attitude around the box allows him to pick out a killer pass in the form of a cross or a threaded through ball. There is an air of nonchalance about the way he plays the game, apart from being as cool as a cucumber. The way he plays forces you into thinking that football is not  a very tough game to play after all!

The adventurous attitude he carries can often be compared to that of a curious child, when he is  exposed to a new environment. And in terms of weaknesses, Sinkgraven hardly seems to have one. But Sinkgraven needs to find a bit more consistency to his play. Although, he is quite good in showcasing the abilities he has up his sleeve but as per Squawka, the youngster can accumulate more than 40 points in some games but slump to obtaining  three or  four  points in some of them, bringing to the fore some of the inconsistencies that still prevail in his overall game. And in the modern day world, consistency is something which plays a significant part in guiding the trajectory of a player’s career.

Passing Shot :

Most opponents must not  commit the crime of judging Sinkgraven’s abilities by his childish looks. Even if he is not  having a good game, he has the ability to pull off a moment of magic to help the team score. A sure shot to do something big, Sinkgraven dreams of playing for Catalan giants Barcelona one day. And with Ajax, those dreams  are not  out of his reach. And more so because, he penned a long term contract with them and has a lot of time to develop and convince others. With the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and even Chelsea sniffing around him, it does seem as if this man is on the threshold of doing something big.


Kaustubh Pandey

About Kaustubh Pandey

Kaustubh is an Atheist who loves to watch Manchester United play. He's a football writer and an aspiring journalist.