Over the years, many of Ajax’s prominent starting XI players have left the club to ply their trade in Europe’s top leagues. Despite losing their players to other clubs, Ajax have been successfully able to find quality replacements almost every time. Such is the case of Dutch centre-back Perr Schuurs who replaced Matthijs de Ligt in ten Hag’s backline after the latter moved to Juventus. While he struggled to adapt and was error-prone initially, Schuurs has continued to improve and has been afforded plenty of opportunities by ten Hag. He has already gathered plenty of interest from top teams in Europe, including Liverpool, Inter Milan and Juventus.
Schuurs joined Fortuna Sittard at the age of 11 and five years later made his debut for the first team. Within the next two seasons, not only did he cement his place in the starting line-up but was made captain of the club. His performances led to a move to Ajax in 2018, and he started at Ajax’s second team. Schuurs started getting opportunities in the first team after De Ligt’s departure. While he was inconsistent for Ajax in his first full season, Schuurs has shown improvements and has regularly fought for his place in ten Hag’s backline. He made 27 appearances in the Eredivisie last season and six in the Champions League.
This season, the young centre-back has made 11 appearances in the Eredivisie and three in the Champions League. While he is yet to reach his peak as a defender, Schuurs has nevertheless been in contention for starting XI since joining Ajax.
Let’s analyze his stats in the Champions League to gauge whether he can provide the depth to ten Hag’s starting XI in the knockouts.
Although he has gotten limited opportunities so far in the Champions League this season, Schuurs’ defensive stats are nonetheless impressive. The majority of his stats surpass the league median value. His most notable stats have been average recoveries in the opponent’s half per match and aerial duels won. While there is still scope for improvement in his aerial duels, Schuurs has improved a lot in that regard since joining Ajax. His awareness of the game allows him to intercept passes effectively, and his towering physique allows him to come out on top in defensive duels.
Schuurs is described as a ball-playing defender who remains calm and composed in possession. He possesses brilliant passing attributes and can find his teammates under pressure. Schuurs is essential to Ajax’s tactics of building from the back as he links up well with his midfielders. His pass map displays the wide array of passes that he has attempted and the location of those passes. It’s evident from his pass map that he is comfortable in both short and long passes.
His heat map displays the areas of the pitch where he is most active. In ten Hag’s 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 system, Schuurs is deployed as a right-central-defender. Ajax play with a very high line, and when in possession, the young centre-back moves closer to the halfway line. Schuurs is capable of dribbling the ball out from the back and combines well with his wide attacking players.
Schuurs has actively engaged in defensive and aerial duels, and has often come out on top. He possesses a brilliant ability to recover possession and has utilized his physicality effectively.
Since joining Ajax, Schuurs has developed at a remarkable rate. His ball-playing ability is impressive, and his ability in dribbling it out from the back is something that can aid Ajax as they look to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.