Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has been speaking to the Guardian about his role in charge of Ajax, and also on Donny van de Beek and what made the Dutch youngster stand out at his boyhood club.
Everybody knows that the best players leave Ajax. It’s where so many happy stories began and Van de Beek is the latest to move on and try his hand at becoming a star at Old Trafford.
Speaking about his time at Ajax and moving to Juventus in 1999, Van der Sar told the Guardian: “If you wanted to further your career, you needed to go abroad. The wages were higher so for us in Holland, at a certain point, it’s important to take the next step.”
The difference now is Van der Sar is responsible for the players who emerge from the Ajax academy and, as everyone knows, their main objective is to create the best young players to move on for the biggest deals.
In the Guardian story we learn more about Van de Beek’s links to Real Madrid, which is where he could have ended up last summer, only for Van der Sar to deem the timing wrong. After overseeing the departures of Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) and Kasper Dolberg (Nice).
The playmaker was persuaded to stay for one more year but little did he know that would mean a move to Manchester United.
“He [Van de Beek] was fine. He was with us for 10 years. He loves Ajax. I think he needed maybe an extra year also.”
Van der Sar continued to explain what made Van de Beek so special during his time in the Ajax academy and first team.
“In the youth, Donny was always one of then two or three big talents. He was not a spectacular player, he was not making 12 stopovers or scoring bicycle kicks but his technique was very functional. He was always in the right position.”