Ajax transfers show how Erik ten Hag could build next Manchester United squad

Ajax transfers show how Erik ten Hag could build next Manchester United squad

Few clubs in Europe have a stronger reputation for development than Ajax, but although Manchester United famously proved otherwise, it’s rare for teams to reach the pinnacle without the right blend of youth and experience.

The principles at the Amsterdam ArenA are clear and the club’s supply chain of talent coming through its academy has rarely dried up. When they came within seconds of the Champions League final in 2019 three of the stars of that squad were Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek and Frenkie de Jong, all homegrown products who enhanced their reputation and earned moves elsewhere.

That faith in youth and a philosophy to play exciting, attacking football is what makes Erik ten Hag such an attractive proposition for United, with the 52-year-old impressive during an interview for the managerial job earlier this week.

Ten Hag spent two years working in Munich alongside Pep Guardiola, taking charge of Bayern’s B team, and many of his ideas stem from that period. On their day this current Ajax side are one of the most enterprising in Europe and their surprise exit from the Champions League to Benfica last week is a shame for neutrals who value entertainment.

But much of the success Ten Hag has enjoyed in Amsterdam has come about because he’s got the alchemy right. The Dutchman has slotted into a structure at Ajax that sees him as head coach, but he’s embraced a transfer strategy that has identified what the club has been missing.

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