If a club has carved its reputation on identifying world-class potential in young players, it is definitely Borussia Dortmund. Over the years, the club has converted several talented players into world-class talent. Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Nuri Sahin, Lars Ricken, Christian Pulisic, Kerem Demirbay, Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho, Youssoufa Moukoko, Giovanni Reyna are just some of the examples. Dortmund also have the Midas touch when it comes to reviving the careers of youngsters whose career have gone downhill after an impressive youth spell. Currently, that player is 20-year-old Dutch attacker Jayden Braaf.
Braaf spent his youth career at Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Manchester City before being snapped by Dortmund in the summer of 2022. Now he has been sent on loan to Serie A side Hellas Verona for him to get more minutes. With Moukoko and Karem Adeyemi being chased by several top clubs, Braaf could become their next leading star when they depart.
Braaf was defined as a generational talent when he first arrived at the scene but since has withered owing to several factors. However, he now has a final chance to get back to his best and fulfil his sky-high potential.
So, who is Jayden Braaf, and how has he been in his short career?
Playing career so far
Jayden Braaf was born on August 31, 2002, to Surinamese parents in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He started his career with the local club ASV Fortius where he stayed for just one year before being scouted by Ajax. In the next eight years, Braaf would change clubs three times.
After spending three years at the club, Braaf left for AFC Amsterdam, where like ASV Fortius, he spent only one year before joining Ajax’s rivals PSV Eindhoven in 2014. After that, he spent four years at the club and was called up to the Netherlands under-15 national team.
Braaf played in six matches scoring against Germany, which turned out to be the winning goal. In 2018, Bread switched clubs and went to Manchester City, joining their under-18 team.
Jayden Braaf leaves Borussia Dortmund to join Hellas Verona, deal fully agreed as revealed last week — medical also completed. 🟡🇳🇱 #BVB
Exclusive details: loan deal will include a buy option clause for Verona but NO buy back clause for Dortmund; BVB would have a sell on clause. pic.twitter.com/BFzt9yszAY
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 13, 2023
He would make six appearances in the under-18 Premier League, scoring one goal and providing one assist. However, his highlight of the season came in the EFL Cup, where he scored a brace against Rochdale. This put him and Phil Foden, who was also performing in the youth ranks, very close to a senior team call-up.
The 2019-20 season was by far Jayden Braaf’s best season. This season he was one of the best-performing players for the under-21 side. At the same time, he would also win the under-18 Premier League and FA Cup.
During the same year, he also participated in the under-17 World Cup, helping the Netherlands finish third. However, things have been challenging for the youngster since then. After an underwhelming loan spell at Udinese, Manchester City began experiencing problems with his attitude. As a result, he was sold by the club, and he joined Borussia Dortmund.
Braaf played seven times for the reserves before being sent to Hellas Verona on loan.
Jayden Braaf stats
The 2019-20 season of Braaf’s career made everyone stand up and take notice. This was the season when the then 17-year-old was promoted to the under-21s. However, the increase in the quality of football didn’t affect the teenager. Playing 16 matches, Braaf scored nine goals, almost one-third of his side’s total output. This included brilliant performances against Blackburn, Everton and Southampton, where he scored a brace. Bread would be voted the under-21 Player of the Season for this display.
He was one of the few positives of an abysmal season where City finished eighth on the table.
Though limited, his spell at Udinese brought some flashes of brilliance, including a well-taken goal against Benevento.
This season’s stats could have been more impressive as in seven appearances (including three starts), he failed to make any contribution in Borussia Dortmund.
Jayden Braaf scout report
At one time in Manchester City, Jayden Braaf was seen as the second coming of Jadon Sancho. He was also compared to Leroy Sane, which gives us an idea of how he plays. Braaf’s playing style is direct, as he is a forward that likes to drift wide to the inside channel, where he can use his pace and dribbling skills to move the play forward.
Braaf loves to be involved in the build-up and does not shy from dropping down the pitch. Since he played as a winger in his youth career, Braaf also loves to exploit the width of the pitch to stretch the opposition’s defence which opens up space for him to exploit.
However, despite all his trickery and pace, Braaf could be more adept at playing a brilliant final ball for his teammate to score, which is why his assists numbers are so low.
The tragic case of Jayden Braaf 🇳🇱
~Talent isn't everything~
– "Shootingstar U17 WorldCup"
– U18 PL champion
– U18 FA Cup winner
– good performances in PL U23
– doesn't make it to the pros and as a result stands out negatively due to his attitude
— Clemens (@NichZumAusMalen) January 9, 2023
What makes him special
Well, his biggest asset is having the experience of playing across so many leagues, teams, age groups and competitions at such a young age. Braarf has thrived at the most cutthroat levels and has also shown that, given the trust of his coach, he becomes an absolute beast.
At his best, Braaf certainly looks like a player who is very capable of performing at the highest level and that too over a consistent period. He has developed all the attributes expected of a modern centre-forward. This combined with his divine skills of being at the right place at the right time, makes him a rare talent for his age group.
Jayden Braaf potential & transfer news
On the talent side, there is nothing stopping Jayden Braaf’s rise. However, his attitude has caused him problems throughout his football career, right from his stint at PSV, where he was suspended for the final months before his move to City.
Even at City, he got into heated arguments with his coach and several other members of the club’s hierarchy, which led to his sale. These problems have followed him at Borussia Dortmund, where he has already been fined multiple times for being late to team meetings and training.
The only positive is that he still has a lot of time to resurrect his career. A solid second half of the season at Hellas Verona should be the first step towards that.