Frenkie de Jong Fit to Face Real Madrid in UCL, Says Ajax Manager Erik ten Hag
Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong has overcome the injury scare he suffered in the 1-0 defeat to Heracles on Saturday and will be fit to face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, says manager Erik ten Hag.
There were concerns over whether Ajax's star anchor would be ready to play in the round-of-16 first leg at the Johan Cruyff Arena after he came off injured in the 79th minute in the Eredivisie matchup against Heracles.
However, Ten Hag addressed the media on Tuesday and allayed any fears over the Barcelona-bound anchor, via Ajax's official Twitter account:
Per FourFourTwo, Ten Hag said:
"Frenkie is fine, he is happy to play the match.
"Like all of us, I imagine he will have an extra motivation, but we all have to play a Champions League game against Madrid, who have won three consecutive Champions League titles.
"Frenkie only wants one thing, which is to close the season well, we have this match with Madrid and he is sure to be 100 per cent motivated to give the best."
Ajax's preparations for Wednesday's matchup haven't been ideal. The Eredivisie outfit have lost two of their last three matches after going undefeated in their previous 23.
Dutch football writer Michael Bell underlined how important De Jong, 21, was to the club's chances prior to Saturday's defeat at Heracles, and the pressure has only been amplified since the loss:
Barcelona announced in January that De Jong had agreed to join them this summer in a £65 million deal, adding an extra hint of spice between the player and his soon-to-be El Clasico rivals.
Alongside centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, De Jong looks like one of the rare talents Ajax have a habit of producing and one who is sure to have a genuine impact against a team as talented as Real.
The Godenzonen will be underdogs to advance despite Real's poor first half of the season, and there would be a noticeable gap in Ajax's spine if De Jong were to miss out at all.
Despite the Dutch club's gumption and their ability to draw twice against Bayern Munich in the group stage, commentator Kevin Hatchard has backed Los Blancos to go through:
Donny van de Beek, 21, and Lasse Schone, 32, have been the other consistent figures in Ajax's midfield this season, but neither has the same impact on the team that De Jong does.
Real coach Santiago Solari is sure to be aware of the Netherlands international, who will be ready to take on the team searching for a fourth successive Champions League crown.