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Dutch Masters: Meet the Ajax stars who humbled Real Madrid as they take the UCL by storm

Dutch Masters: Meet the Ajax stars who humbled Real Madrid as they take the UCL by storm
After Dutch side Ajax produced a phenomenal display at the Bernabeu to defeat Real Madrid 4-1 and progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, RT Sport takes a look at six of the side's most influential performers.

FRENKIE DE JONG

This will be the last season Ajax fans get to enjoy De Jong in their lineup, as he will be off to join Spanish giants Barcelona in the summer, having inked a reported €75 million ($85 million) deal in January. 

But for the remainder of this season, the Ajax star is still in the Netherlands and producing brilliant performances.

Former Barcelona playmaker Xavi said he was "a beastly talent" while former Dutch international ace Rafael van der Vaart said he is "the best player in the Netherlands and, with the ball at his feet, perhaps one of the better players in Europe."

He has already got credit in the bank with his next club, having been instrumental in knocking out Barca's great rivals Real in the Champions League, in the process dominating world player of the year Luka Modric in midfield.   

MATTHIJS DE LIGT

Despite his tender age, 19-year-old de Ligt is already Ajax captain and their rock at the back. The half-century appearance mark for his club is now a distant speck in his rear-view mirror, and he already has represented his country 13 times.

His performances at center back have defied his years, as he has shown rare poise and positional savvy for a player of such a young age.

His displays have inevitably led to some of Europe's big spenders circling Ajax, and it would come as no surprise if the Dutch side ended up receiving some colossal offers for their young defensive star in the summer - with Barcelona known admirers. 

Also on rt.com Inspired Ajax dump holders Real Madrid out of Champions League

DUSAN TADIC

Every young side needs an older head in the lineup to help provide balance and experience to the team, and Tadic plays that role perfectly.

The 30-year-old playmaker arrived from Premier League Southampton last summer and became an instant hit at Ajax. His displays in the number 10 role have not only delivered an impact at domestic level; he's been equally as impressive on the European stage.

His brilliant display against Real Madrid this week - where he laid on two assists and scored one of his own - was one of the major factors behind Ajax's thrilling victory, and marked him out as one of the most dangerous playmakers in the UEFA Champions League this season.

Also on rt.com ‘He’s taking lives out there!’ Internet drools at Tadic magic as Ajax stun Real

DAVID NERES

Brazilian winger Neres provides Ajax an exciting attacking threat down either wing, and his prowess helped fire the Dutch side past Real Madrid this week as he netted the team's second goal in their incredible 4-1 win.

The 22-year-old arrived from Sao Paulo as a raw young winger and is maturing into one of the most exciting attacking talents in the Eredivisie.

His performances have already attracted interest from potential buyers, but all the while he's wearing the iconic white and red shirts of Ajax, the Dutch fans will be happy. 

NICOLAS TAGLIAFICO

Argentinian full-back Tagliafico arrived at Ajax for a bargain fee of just $5.25 million in January 2018 and has looked like an outstanding purchase.

The 26-year-old Argentina international provides stability and an attacking threat down the left flank for the Dutch side, where his tireless performances have earned him plaudits galore.

And after a string of impressive performances this season, the biggest problem Ajax will have will be fending off the bids for their all-action wide man over the summer.

ANDRE ONANA

Goalkeeper Onana, 22, worked his way through Barcelona's system after joining the club as a 13-year-old, but never made it to the Barca first team.

Eventually, he was offloaded to Ajax, where he elevated himself from the Jong Ajax B-side to the main Ajax squad.

Now the established starter at Ajax, Cameroonian keeper Onana has provided a commanding presence between the sticks for the Dutch side, both in the Eredivisie and in the UEFA Champions League, where Ajax have excelled this season.

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