Ajax Technical Director, Gerry Hamstra, has made comparisons between Nigerian defender, Calvin Bassey, and Liverpool superstar, Virgil Van Dijk.
Hamstra stated this while explaining their decision to go for the services of the Super Eagles defender ahead of the new season.
The 22-year-old Nigeria international moved to the Dutch side from Glasgow Rangers in a record transfer fee £18.7m to end his stay at Ibrox, after signing a five-year contract.
Hamstra likened Bassey’s rise to the top to that of Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk and Dutch legend Jaap Stam, who played for a host of clubs in Europe, including PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Lazio, Milan and Ajax, before retiring in October 2007.
“Calvin got into professional football late at Leicester City,” Hamstra said. “From there, like Jaap Stam and Virgil van Dijk did a bit in the past – he fought his way up.
“Calvin is an open personality and he has taken off at Rangers. We are getting one of the stars of the Europa League final.
“At first he played at left-back, but then Giovanni van Bronckhorst put him in the centre. He is a boy who has made great strides in a short time. We are in a situation at the club where a lot of players have gone,” he said, referencing Lisandro Martinez, Sebastian Haller and Ryan Gravenberch’s exits, among others.
Hamstra also defended their decision to pay £18.7m – which could rise to £22.7m – for Bassey’s services, making him Nigeria’s most expensive defender in history.
Hamstra insists that the players’ potential deserved the fee.
“We looked at potential and got a player for more than we would normally pay – because he had to be a Champions League-worthy replacement,” Hamstra said, as quoted by Squawka.
“The one-on-one replacements simply cost a little more than the guys for the future. Ultimately, you have ambitions. You want to become champion and take the next step in Europe.”
Bassey’s eagerly awaited debut for Ajax did not take off on Tuesday, after he missed out in the team’s 3-1 friendly win against Shaktar Donetsk at Amsterdam Arena following work permit issues.