Ten Hag’s focus is on Sparta as Van de Beek looks set for Madrid move

Donny van de Beek may well be on his way out of Ajax. But you’ll find the focus on the mind of head coach Erik ten Hag is the next game ahead for the Sons of the Gods — a home game against old rivals Sparta Rotterdam in the Eredivisie top flight this Sunday.

Yes, the £47million fee that Spanish giants real Madrid are said to be prepared to pay for the playmaker, who is aged just 22, is not to be sniffed at. But the reality is that the Ajax hierarchy and fans alike have got used to selling their top talent and what is far more important to them is that they have a conveyor belt of new world-beaters coming through. And they do.

They are certainly doing something right as, once again, they sit top of the table going into the game on Sunday in Amsterdam against the team nicknamed the Red-White Gladiators, who are currently in 11th place in the standings. Can Ajax walk off with the title once more? You would think so. Can they win against Sparta? Again, you wouldn’t necessarily bet against it. But if you wanted to you should first head to the new Betting Hub app to check out all of the odds before you have a flutter.

Ten Hag’s aces are at the summit with their most likely challenger for the crown, AZ Alkmaar, just three points behind them in second place. Both teams have played 18 games. Yes, there are plenty of twists and turns to come. But Ajax have the experience to ride out the season and you would expect them to go on and claim the silverware. But, as we know only too well, football is a funny old game.

Van de Beek could well be rested for Sunday’s game given that he could well be on the brink of that aforementioned big money move to Madrid (let’s face it, it makes total sense because if he were injured it could well scupper the move). But one player who will no doubt be hoping that he can get some game time in the match is former Sons of the Gods attacker Ryan Babel, who has joined the club for a third time, this time on a loan deal (until June of this year) from Turkish outfit Galatasaray SK.

Of course, and you won’t need reminding, Babel is no stranger to Ajax. After all, he was born in Amsterdam and was at the club’s youth set-up as a boy — and he went on to play for the first team (he actually won six trophies with Ajax in 133 outings in his two stints at the club) before he made a move to Premier League side Liverpool.

If gets some game time, he will be gunning for Sparta, that much is certain!