Jens Odgaard (att)(Sassuolo); Joris Kramer (def)(Go Ahead Eagles, end of loan); Mees De Wit (def)(PEC Zwolle); Mayckel Lahdo (att)(Hammarby); Zinho Vanheusden (def)(Inter, on loan);
Zakaria Aboukhlal (sp)(att)(Toulouse); Mohamed Taabouni (mid)(released); Jeremy Helmer (att)(released); Kamal Sowah (sp)(mid)(Club Brugge, end of loan); Joris Kramer (def)(NEC Nijmegen, on loan); Jeremy Helmer (att)(released); Mees Bakker (gk)(De Graafschap, on loan); Owen Wijndal (r)(def)(Ajax); Beau Reus (gk)(SK Beveren);
Last season was not a bright one for AZ as they failed to make the top 4 for the first time in 5 years. At his first campaign fully in charge, coach Jansen only seldom managed to follow the path taken by his predecessor, Arne Slot, who had led the Alkmaaners close to the title, and his boys ended up on the 5th spot courtesy of 2 wins out of the last 9 games. If nothing else, they succeeded in qualifying to the Europa Conference League qualifying rounds via the playoffs. The defence was certainly the area that proved most fragile as AZ would often concede silly goals.
Their summer was not a particularly active one in terms of transfers. In fact, they only lost one major protagonist in left-back Wijndal. Capable of 10 assists last season, he attracted Ajax interest and left for good cash. De Wit is set to replace him after a positive season at Zwolle. 18-year-old Kerkez, who did well in the ECL playoffs at the end of last campaign, could also be considered for the post.
Right-winger Aboukhlal, who played a very small part in terms of actual playing time last season, despite making the field in 30 league games, asked to quit and was let go with no second thought as they are well covered in the post. The Dane Odgaard, coming off a forgettable experience in Italy, should represent the alternative for their main striker, Pavlidis. That is a kind of player they missed in the past campaign.
For the defence, they signed 22-year-old Vanheusden, a very promising centre-back, whose past seasons have been plagued by injuries. He is expected to add depth to an area, where the likes of Hatzidiakos and Martins Indi also spent plenty of time in the sidelines last campaign.
The midfield is an area they hardly touched and this could be a problem if veteran Clasie and Midtsjo end up injured.
With a squad pretty similar to last season, but with a few youngsters having acquired some needed experience in the meantime, AZ could be fighting again for a top 4 finish.