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Europa League Final: Who to Watch in Ajax’s Young Team Threatening Manchester United’s European Dream

Kasper Dolberg
Kasper Dolberg at Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, February 23. Dolberg is at the spear of Ajax's attack. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty

On Sunday, in Ajax’s last game of the season the team missed out on the Eredivisie title by a single point. It won the match against Willem II 3-1 but the game represented the club’s ethos: it has total faith in its young players.

The average age of the Ajax team was 20 years old. Although it may not be the starting line up for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, Peter Bosz’s team will be packed with young stars.

Here, Newsweek looks at the players to keep an eye out for during the final in Stockholm:

Kasper Dolberg—19 years old

At the point of Ajax’s attack, Dolberg has delivered this season for his club despite still being a teenager. His 22 goals in 42 appearances helped him finish the season as the club’s top scorer, and making it a challenger for the title.

The Danish striker, who already represented his country in November 2016, has played a pivotal role in Ajax’s route to Stockholm. He has scored six goals in nine appearances in the Europa League this season, four of which came in the knockout rounds. Dolberg is a powerful striker with a composed finish who can cause harm to Mourinho’s defense.

Bertrand Traore—21 years old

A skillful winger with a lethal left foot, Traore has troubled many teams this season by cutting in from the right wing and finishing on his favored side.

The Burkina Faso forward is on loan to Ajax from Chelsea and has contributed 13 goals in 36 appearances for the Dutch club during the campaign. Traore has excelled in the European competition, featuring in all but two of the games, with four goals and as many assists.

Bertrand Traore Bertrand Traore at Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, May 3. Traore is on loan from Chelsea. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty

Hakim Ziyech—24 years old

At 24, Ziyech is one of the most experienced players in the Ajax lineup. The Dutchman has been deployed as an attacking midfielder but is capable of playing further up the field and down the right.

Ziyech has proved to be one of the most influential figures in Ajax’s development, by providing the highest number of assists in the league (11) and joint highest in Europe (four). His most memorable display came in the 4-1 semifinal first leg win over Lyon, where he provided three assists for his team.

Hakim Ziyech Hakim Ziyech at Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, April 20. Ziyech provided four assists in the semifinal first leg against Lyon. Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty

Amin Younes—23 years old  

Produced by Borussia Dortmund, the German forward moved to Ajax in 2015 and has played a crucial role in the club’s advances over the past two years.

Younes is capable with both feet, able to play on either the left or right wing and take on defenders. He is a composed forward with a smart finish, but has only been able to score seven goals for Ajax this season.

Amin Younes Amin Younes, right, at Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, April 13. Younes takes on Thilo Kehrer of Schalke. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty

Davinson Sanchez—20 years old  

At the center of Ajax’s defense is the powerful Sanchez. The Colombian has proved to be a strong and imposing figure in the back-four but capable of carrying the ball into the midfield.

He joined the Dutch club last summer from Atletico Nacional and has scored six times in 32 appearances, which include a spectacular overhead kick and a long-range effort. Sanchez will prove a test for the pace and power of Marcus Rashford.

Davinson Sanchez Davinson Sanchez, left, and Dirk Kuyt, center, at Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, April 2. Sanchez challenges Feyenoord's Kuyt in the air. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty

Justin Kluivert—18 years old

Son of Dutch icon Patrick Kluivert, the young player has the heavy weight of expectation over him. Kluivert, who plays on the right side of attack, was developed in the famous Ajax academy and has broken into the first team this season.

He has played 20 times for Bosz’s team this year, including six times in the Europa League. Kluivert scored his first goal for Ajax in March during an away match against SBV Excelsior, but is likely to have a place on the bench in Stockholm on Wednesday.

Justin Kluivert Justin Kluivert at Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam , January 29. Kluivert, son of Patrick Kluivert, has broken into the first team at Ajax. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty

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