Arsenal transfer target Noa Lang is wild child who fell out with Ajax boss ten Hag after scoring hat-trick on debut
LEAVING Ajax has been a blessing in disguise for Noa Lang.
The promising Dutch forward, 22, has become one of Europe's hottest properties after starring for Club Brugge in recent seasons.
His progress has attracted the interest of Arsenal, who are reportedly monitoring the £25million talent ahead of the January transfer window.
However, his career threatened to stall when he was accused of being a disruption to the team.
That culminated in a bitter bust-up with Ajax boss Erik ten Hag on the touchline during a cup game for reportedly disobeying instructions from club captain Dusan Tadic.
It was only a month earlier Lang had exploded onto the scene with a hat-trick on his debut – the first player in 60 years to achieve such a feat for the Eredivisie giants.
But the row with ten Hag saw him fall down the pecking order, he was shipped out on loan to Twente and then Club Brugge, where he signed permanently in 2021.
Lang was born in Rotterdam and raised by his stepdad, former Ajax star Nourdin Boukhari.
As a kid, he played with Feyenoord's academy until 14 when he made the switch to Amsterdam.
He progressed through the ranks at Ajax and was capped at U16 level for Netherlands all the way through to the U21's.
Ajax knew they had a talent on their hands, but it wasn't until December 2019 that he got his chance at 20.
Lang was handed a start against FC Twente, who raced into a 2-0 lead. It seemed like it would be a debut to forget.
Instead, Noa inspired his team to an epic comeback – scoring three goals in a 5-2 win in just 18 minutes.
No player in 60 years had managed a hat-trick on their debut for Ajax, and immediately he was labelled the 'new Ibrahimovic' for his exploits.
IT SOON WENT WRONG
The joy of being the next big thing wasn't to last.
Lang got another start in the second round of the KNVB Cup in a game against Telstar.
And it started so well, with the livewire scoring an opener. It all turned sour soon after though.
With the game a close knit affair, club captain Tadic was said to have given Noa some instructions on the pitch.
However, ten Hag believed they were ignored – with the young buck answering the senior pro back.
"You need to shut your mouth and just listen!" ten Hag was alleged to have said to the stunned winger from the touchline.
"Stop it, it’s our match, not yours!"
OFF YOU GO
Just weeks later, the experienced Ryan Babel was brought in on a loan deal from Galatasaray.
Lang's path to the first team was blocked for the remainder of the campaign, and he was sent to FC Twente.
But, when the coronavirus pandemic saw the Dutch season cancelled he was forced to return to Ajax.
Before the start of the 2020-21 season, it was agreed that it would be beneficial for both parties to let Lang leave for Belgium and Club Brugge.
There was the offer of a new contract on the table, but the youth star wanted to play regular football.
A loan with an obligation to buy for £6million was accepted, and Lang was set for a new challenge.
As he left, he delivered a parting shot to the club.
"I’d lie if I said I didn’t have any difficulties with it," he said.
"Ajax is a massive chapter of my life. I’ve dreamed about playing for Ajax as a small boy. I’m proud I succeeded but at the same time, I feel like I didn’t make the most of it.
"It doesn’t feel like I was successful. Nor do I feel that I have had a real chance. I’m being very honest about that."
DUCK TO WATER
It's in Brugge where Lang has shone brightly.
For his debut campaign, he notched 17 goals in 37 games, including against Zenit Saint Petersburg to keep Club Brugge's Champions League campaign alive.
Domestically, though, it was a goal in a 3-3 draw with rivals Anderlecht that earned the club a fourth Belgium title in six years.
And he showed he was a team player in his debut season – registering 11 assists.
This season, Lang has continued in the same vain – scoring and assisting four goals in his 13 games in all competitions.
BUT NOT WITHOUT PROBLEMS
Controversy has followed him overseas.
Back in May, after that Anderlecht win, he celebrated Club Brugge's title win by singing along to an anti-Semitic song with supporters.
Lang was charged by the Belgium FA, but rather than fined or suspended, he was sent to Dossin barracks in Mechelen, which is now a Holocaust museum.
At the time, though, he wasn't exactly apologetic.
"My dad’s Surinamese and my mother’s Dutch. I know all about racism and bias," he said on Instagram.
"I chanted enthusiastically with supporters I met for the first time after winning. As a former Ajax fan I know very well the soccer world’s nicknames.
"I did not mean to offend anyone. I’m done with the subject and won’t be revisiting it."
Source: Read Full Article