Tristan Gooijer is a 19-year-old central defender or full-back who plays for Jong Ajax in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. Gooijer started his career at a local club in Almere but joined Almere City’s youth academy in 2014 before joining the youth academy of Ajax in the summer of 2016. He gradually made his way through Ajax’s youth academy and is now a regular starter for Jong Ajax in the second tier of Dutch football. Gooijer was part of the first-team squad during pre-season and is a Dutch youth international. He has a contract that expires next summer but is expected to extend his contract.
Standing at 1.85 meters with an athletic build, Tristan Gooijer has a very interesting build for a defender. Gooijer is physically strong in ground duels, often bullying his opponents even at senior level for Jong Ajax in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. Gooijer is very quick on the first meters, whilst also being fast over longer distances. His good recovery speed can help him to compensate for slight positional errors. As Gooijer is very athletic, he changes directions quickly and he is agile. The defender has good balance and footwork. Gooijer, despite being quite tall, sometimes struggles in aerial duels as his jumping reach, timing and positioning are all average. Gooijer has good stamina.
Playing as either a right-, left-, or centre-back, Tristan Gooijer is a very versatile defender. Gooijer likes to step up and defend aggressively, trying to win back possession as quickly as possible without giving away fouls. Gooijer is a very good 1v1 defender in isolated 1v1s on the wing but can sporadically give his opponent too much space near the box. His defensive positioning is generally an aspect he needs to work on, as he sometimes fails to cut passing lanes well enough or to make the right decisions dealing with crosses from his side. Gooijer’s body shape and orientation when defending transitions is also something he needs to work on as he tends to turn his back on the rest of the pitch instead of maintaining an open body shape allowing him to see the entire pitch. Around the halfway line when the opponents haven’t settled possession yet, he does well to stay on his front feet and is very attentive in picking up second balls. The defender times his slide tackles well and as mentioned in the previous paragraph, his recovery speed compensates for slight positional errors.
The defender has very good technical ability. Tristan Gooijer has a very clean and solid passing technique. He prefers to play short passes and very rarely mishits a pass. The defender’s pass selection could be better. He does not always go for line-breaking passes when the option is there and could be more progressive with his passing, especially from centre-back. He rarely goes for a long ball and does not have an extensive passing range. Gooijer is very active in first-phase possession and always tries to run into space opening up (forward) passing lanes. He sometimes fails to use the space optimally as he misses chances to utilize his excellent ball-carrying ability. As a full-back, he dares to take on opponents more and likes to carry the ball more. Gooijer has excellent close control while dribbling and it often seems like he has the ball on a string. Gooijer does not often go for a cross but has a good crossing technique, while also displaying good ball-striking ability from close range.
In general, Tristan Gooijer is a defender with a very interesting physical and technical profile, but there is a lot of potential he has yet to fulfil. Gooijer needs to work on his pass selection in first-phase possession, aerial ability, defensive positioning and body shape and orientation when defending transitions. I think all of these aspects are very much trainable but it needs some time. Gooijer is quite close to first-team level as a right-back but one of the reasons for this is that Ajax’s current options at right-back are not great. Gooijer’s short-term future is at right-back but in the long-term he will end up as a wide central defender in a three-at-the-back. Though, that’s only if he significantly improves his weaknesses. I think Tristan Gooijer has the potential to play for mid-table teams in one of the top 5 leagues.