Schreuder keen to improve Bassey’s build-up game after recent criticism

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Calvin Bassey Ajax 2022-23
Ajax Amsterdam coach Alfred Schreuder is determined to improve Nigeria defender Calvin Bassey's build-up play.
  • Schreuder has revealed how he is helping Bassey improve
  • Ajax coach using ex-Breda tactician’s build-up methods on Nigerian
  • The defender has been criticised for being ‘poor’ on the ball

WHAT HAPPENED? Bassey has been the subject of criticism from a number of Ajax legends over his ball-playing abilities since he joined the Dutch champions from Scottish giants Rangers in the summer.

While Schreuder has always stood by the player, the tactician has admitted that he is working to improve the defender’s ability to play out from the back, borrowing from what his former coach at NAC Breda Henk ten Cate used to do with his centre-backs.

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WHAT DID HE SAY? "With Bassey, I actually do exactly as Henk did with [Ex-Breda defender] Rob [Penders]," Schreuder told Voetbal International.

“You often see that defenders in the build-up play the balls too early. By that I mean, they play the ball, but don't pass anyone.”

“Ten Cate used to teach his players that you sometimes had to dribble towards the [opposition] striker, look him up, and if a midfielder presents himself well, you can pass.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Bassey has been a key member of Schreuder’s team, starting 18 straight matches in all competitions before the World Cup break, as his coach deployed him either in central defence or at left-back.

He made a number of mistakes, particularly in his side’s losses to Napoli and Liverpool in the Champions League as well as against Eredivisie rivals PSV Eindhoven, drawing criticism from former Ajax players.

Former Ajax midfielder Marciano Vink claimed Bassey “cannot play football in that position” while ex-winger Kenneth Perez termed him a ‘Bambi on ice’ for being poor on the ball.

Schreuder, however, defender the player, saying he needs time while the Nigeria international has also produced a number of top performances in the league and in Ajax’s wins over his former club Rangers in the Champions League.

WHAT’S NEXT? Bassey will likely be in the starting XI when Ajax resume their Eredivisie campaign with an away match at NEC Nijmegen on January 8.