18-year-old Ajax Defender Could be Liverpool’s Hidden Transfer Gem

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Arne Slot’s Liverpool Plans: Ajax Wonderkid Could be a Solution

As Arne Slot replaced Jurgen Klopp in the Anfield dugout ahead of the 2024/25 season, attention is now starting to turn towards the recruitment strategy. Recent reports suggest that a left-footed, versatile, defender could be towards the top of Arne Slot’s transfer priorities.

That’s where 18-year-old defender, Jorrel Hato, could come into Liverpool’s transfer plans this summer. The teenager is currently playing for Ajax and has been labelled as one of the hottest prospects in Europe at the moment.

Let’s take a closer look at why Hato could be a potential target for the Reds ahead of the summer transfer window…

Who is Jorrel Hato?

As mentioned above, Hato is an 18-year-old defender currently playing for Ajax in the Eredivisie. Despite his young age, Hato has racked up 46 appearances across all competitions for the Dutch side this season. That puts Hato on 61 senior appearances for Ajax already, despite still being a teenager.

His impressive club performances also earned him a call up the Dutch senior side, where he now has one cap to his name. With this being classed as his major breakthrough season, his performances have also launched him onto the radar of numerous top clubs and Liverpool could definitely be one of those.

Tactical Fit

With recent reports suggesting that Arne Slot and the hierarchy at Liverpool want a left-footed defender, Jorrel Hato fits that bill perfectly. His versatility will also prove to be a hugely valuable asset too, with the youngster also capable of slotting in at left-back if needed.

His ability on the ball and physical presence would comfortably see him fit in alongside the likes of Jarell Quansah in the Liverpool squad. That ability on the ball is proven by his 91.6% pass completion rate.

Crunching the Numbers

When looking at Hato’s underlying numbers, it’s clear to see why there’s so much hype around the youngster.

His hugely impressive numbers in terms of ball progression is similar to what the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip have achieved over the recent years of success. You’ll struggle to find a central defender with more progressive passes (4.58) and progressive carries (1.07) per 90 minutes, than Hato.

It’s not just his ability on the ball that makes him an attractive proposition for Arne Slot’s plans at Liverpool, but he also holds an impressive physical and defensive presence that will only improve with time. Averaging 1.99 tackles and 1.49 blocks per 90 minutes, there’s definitely some solid foundations for Slot to build on.

Dutch Connection

Over recent weeks, there has of course been some speculation that some of Slot’s Feyenoord players could follow him to Liverpool. Now obviously that’s mostly down to lazy reporting, but there is also a natural expectation that Slot will look to prioritise players that he trusts and is familiar with – although much of the recruitment work will be done by Michael Edwards and his team.

Hato would also be able to learn from his international captain, Virgil Van Dijk, and it’s hard to argue that there’s anyone better to learn from in the world than Liverpool’s current skipper.

Potential Finances

The potential finances in the deal for Hato could potentially be much smaller than some of the fees for other linked players. For example, Frankfurt defender Willian Pacho is reportedly Liverpool’s primary defenive target and would likely cost between £50-60million.

Transfermarkt currently value Jorrel Hato at around £20million, which would be an absolute bargain. However, it’s important to note that Ajax could easily demand a much higher fee for Hato and with his contract not set to expire until 2028, it puts the Dutch outfit in a comfortable position for sure.

If Liverpool are looking for someone to come in and eventually take over for Virgil Van Dijk on that left side of defence, then I think Hato could potentially be the perfect signing for that. Give him a couple of years to learn from his surroundings and he will become a world-class defender – mark my words. Use the growth of Jarrel Quansah as evidence and it’s arguable that Hato could have an even higher potential ceiling than Quansah, too.

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