Ajax have had an eventful 2021-22. The Dutch giants won their 36th Eredivisie title after a close fight with PSV. Erik ten Hag, their hugely successful manager, is leaving for Manchester United. Marc Overmars had to step down after an ethics scandal. However, there has one constant factor throughout this all. The norm of promoting young talent.
This is how Ajax wins titles:
🇳🇱 Ryan Gravenberch (18)
🔑 2 key passes
💪 6 ball recoveries
🇳🇱 Devyne Rensch (18)
⚽️ 1 goal
⚔️ 2/3 tackles won
🇳🇱 Jurrien Timber (19)
⚽️ 1 goal
💪 4 ball recoveries
⛔️ Clean sheet
All in the XI to clinch their 35th Eredivisie title. ❌❌❌ pic.twitter.com/HkQniHcN0b
— Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) May 2, 2021
Ten Hag has not been shy to use players from their famed youth academy. Jurrien Timber, Ryan Gravenberch, and Noussair Mazraoui have been some of the foremost names on the team sheet.
However, there have been players from Jong Ajax as well. One of the standout talents in this regard has been Devyne Rensch. The centre-back, who can also double up as right-back, is ready to join the first-team on a regular basis, on the opposite flank of Kenneth Taylor.
NUMBERRR 𝗫𝗫𝗫𝟲 ITTT IISSS 🏆!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/BqsH43SmSM
— Devyne Rensch (@RenschDevyne) May 12, 2022
No matter who comes in as the new manager, they will definitely want Rensch around. Moreover, with news that Gravenberch, Mazraoui, and even Timber could be leaving soon, it presents the perfect opportunity for Devyne Rensch.
Playing career so far
Devyne Rensch started his playing career with amateur club VV Unicum. He is from the famed class of 2003, which has rising stars across Europe like Ricardo Pepi, Luca Netz, Florian Wirtz, and others. Rensch transferred to Ajax in 2016, linking up with the junior teams.
Internationally, Rensch career took off in 2017 with the Netherlands U15 side. He would go onto represent every age group, making his senior debut for Oranje in 2021.
It was a pleasure to join this amazing group of players and staff. Blessed with my debut🇳🇱🦁 Hopefully the first of many🧡 pic.twitter.com/q2jObY1U6f
— Devyne Rensch (@RenschDevyne) September 7, 2021
Rensch’s progress with Ajax was going superbly too. The centre-back was earning plaudits from all around, which led to him being named the recipient of the Abdelhak Nouri Trophy (best young talent) in 2019-20. He would play several games for Ajax in the 2020-21 pre-season, before making his official debut in November 2020.
Devyne Rensch, congrats on winning the Abdelhak Nouri Trophy for best @AFCAjax talent of the year! 🏆👏
Only the beginning and much more to come if you keep working hard! #ForTheFuture pic.twitter.com/xljOVXpPZa
— Edwin van der Sar (@vdsar1970) November 19, 2020
Rensch would continue spending time between the first team and Jong Ajax. Therefore, he has racked up 37 appearances for Ajax over the past two seasons. Moreover, Rensch has also been a solid presence in the attacking sense with seven goals and five assists between the two teams so far.
Ten Hag has given great chances to the youngsters and Rensch has made the best use of them.
Devyne Rensch is not the tallest, standing at 5’10”. However, he makes up for that with excellent positioning and tactical awareness. Rensch has been phenomenal in going up against more fancied attackers, winning 55% of his duels with 7.6 per 90.
He averages a passing accuracy of 87% in 2021-22. Moreover, he is no slouch with the ball at his feet, completing half of his dribbles.
✶ Best Talent of our Academy
✶ @Eredivisie debut
What a month for Devyne Rensch! 💎#emmaja #ForTheFuture pic.twitter.com/y9SitJsAQD
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) November 29, 2020
As mentioned, his frame sometimes makes it tougher to win aerial duels, winning only 46%. Rensch makes 2.60 tackles and 2.04 interceptions per 90, which are pretty good for an upcoming player.
Ajax’s 4-2-3-1 system relies heavily on the defenders getting involved in starting attacks. Therefore, it is no surprise that Ten Hag has developed Rensch’s game in this regard.
Wait, wait, wait… Score.
🔮 ⌁ Devyne Rensch #jajein
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) December 7, 2020
Moreover, given how the 19-year-old can also play as a right-back, he has evolved his running game. Rensch regularly joins Antony in attacks, motoring up and down the flanks. However, it is not only about the numbers with Rensch.
What the stats do not tell
Said Ouaali, head of youth development, calls him a “true Ajax defender.” This goes to highlight the numerous facets of Rensch’s all-round game. Speaking to Algemeen Dagblad, Ten Hag had glowing praise,
“He has great vision, athleticism and technique, so he has a number of attributes to have an amazing career. I’m proud that he is making these steps at such a young age, although he has to stay humble and has to keep pushing. If he does that, he can go much further, even in a short amount of time.”
He has great pace, which makes overlapping easier down the right. Speaking to GOAL, Rensch revealed,
“I’m a brave player. I dribble a lot and go past my opponent. Defensively, I have good positional awareness.
Therefore, it is evident how confident Rensch is of his game. That is the exact kind of mentality which helps a career grow leaps and bounds.
🗣[Stentor] | Peter Van der Horst (ex-VV Unicum coach): "All children have the dream of playing for Barcelona. Devyne Rensch (18 – Ajax) can make it doable. Now Sergiño Dest plays there, but I think Devyne has already gone one step further." pic.twitter.com/gkJDRf3j8s
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) September 10, 2021
What makes him special
It is not the present, but the future that will really challenge Devyne Rensch. Timber is on the transfer wishlist of several clubs, while Mazraoui is going to Bayern Munich. That leaves Rensch taking up the mantle in the backline. He is one of the youngest players to have a regular stream of game time. Therefore, the pressure will only continue to mount.
— Devyne Rensch (@RenschDevyne) April 21, 2021
Till now, Rensch has shown incredible growth which suggests that he is ready for the added responsibilities. Rensch can fill in seamlessly at right-back, after the likes of Sergino Dest and Mazraoui.
Moreover, he can also cover the centre, alongside Lisandro Martinez, if Timber leaves. Ajax’s philosophy of players having well developed all-round skills that will bear fruits as their career goes on.
Devyne Rensch first-half vs ADO
18-year-old full-back. Just some Ajax things. pic.twitter.com/Bj2431oGIK
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) March 21, 2021
Therefore, expect Rensch to continue along that same path if his more experienced teammates leave. That is the beauty with Ajax, they always have someone ready to take over and are willing to throw them at the deep end after proper training.
Devyne Rensch has a contract with Ajax till 2025. However, it is unlikely that he will see out the entirety of it. No doubt several top clubs will come circling for him.
Manchester United have been linked with a whole host of Ajax players, given Ten Hag has joined them. However, it is unlikely that Rensch will be on the move just now.
Sooooo deserved. 💫
Glad you're extending, Devyne! #ForTheFuture
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) June 18, 2021
Moreover, Barcelona have also been touted as a strong possibility. The Blaugrana have Dest on their books, and the connection between the two clubs is legendary. Therefore, it can end up as a viable option too.
For now, Rensch will be celebrating the league title and continuing to focus on the 2022-23 season.