herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Van der Sar: Ajax have long-term plan

 

Ajax’s Justin Kluivert. Photo: Erwin Spek/Pro Shots
Ajax’s Justin Kluivert. Photo: Erwin Spek/Pro Shots

Ajax Amsterdam’s hopes of long-term financial stability rest on the Dutch club keeping together a talented young squad that has taken them to the cusp of a first European final in more than two decades, CEO Edwin van der Sar said.

Despite having an average age of just 22, Ajax’s current crop of players has this season rekindled memories of the club’s past European glories.

They face Lyon in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final tonight, holding a 4-1 advantage from the first leg in Amsterdam. European champions four times, Ajax have recently gained a reputation for being a feeder club, selling on top talent to richer rivals in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Van der Sar says they should avoid the short-term temptation of cashing in on the latest generation and look to build a business that can compete again with the continent’s elite.

“We want to make Ajax more financially more stable and are looking to close the gap on the European front,” the former Manchester United goalkeeper said.

“We want to do it differently, by focusing on quality and maintaining the best players.”

The current generation at Ajax includes Justin Kluivert, whose father Patrick Kluivert scored the only goal when they beat AC Milan to win the Champions League final in 1995.

Other young prospects to shine are attacking midfielder Donny van de Beek, 20, and teenage centre back Matthijs de Ligt. “Here at Ajax it has been too quiet for the last 20 years,” added van der Sar.

Lyon v Ajax Live Eir Sp 1/BT Sp 3, KO 8.05

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