Ajax chief Erik ten Hag has had to contend with no end of speculation that his top players are about to jump ship over the summer after a memorable and successful season last time of asking. But all of a sudden, Europe’s leading clubs have cottoned on to the fact that it may well be the coach who is shaping these talented aces who is the man they should try to lure to head up their clubs.
Ten Hag is apparently now on the wish-lists of both Chelsea and AS Roma and whichever way you balance that one, it isn’t good news at all for the Sons of the Gods. Marc Overmars, the Ajax director of football, has had his work cut out over the past few weeks with players such as Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech all on their way out of the Johan Cruijff ArenA.
Now the former Arsenal and Holland winger must keep tabs on Ten Hag’s intentions because a move to either the Premier League with the Blues — who have just parted company with Maurizio Sarri — or AS Roma (Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte could well end up with this job) would provide a more lucrative salary as well as a bigger budget to snare stars.
Yes, Ten Hag has indicated that he has unfinished business at Ajax and wants to help the club win even more silverware. He did a remarkable job of collecting trophies last season, after all, and claimed the KNVB Cup as well as the Eredivisie. But the Sons of the Gods missed out on Champions League glory after being defeated by Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final.
Before they can mount another serious tilt at European football’s biggest prize, critics argue that Ajax would need a season to bed in their new recruits — the likes of Defensa y Justicia defender Lisandro Martinez, SC Heerenveen’s schemer Kik Pieri, Rasvan Marin from Standard Liege and FC Emmen’s Kjell Scherpen, among others.
At Chelsea, who may yet choose to appoint former midfield ace Frank Lampard as their next coach, Ten Hag has more of a chance of winning the Champions League. AS Roma didn’t qualify, so they are out of the equation.
Meanwhile, another player said to heading towards the Ajax exit is David Neres — with Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool all said to be keen on his services for a fee in the region of £36million. Ex-Sao Paulo attacker Neres, aged 22, is on duty for Brazil in Copa America – and said of a potential switch:
“When I’m in the national team, I try to stay focused, I’ll leave it aside with my agents. Of course, the Premier League interests me; it’s the best league in the world, I always had the dream to play there.”