Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar says it would be an honour if clubs the stature of his former employers signed players from Ajax.
Van der Sar spent six seasons playing for United before retiring in 2011. Now, he is back in the boardroom at another of his former clubs, Ajax.
The 50-year-old’s current role means he oversees a number of different jobs for Ajax. One of his main tasks is to help players progress from the club and take the next step.
Ajax have a proud tradition of developing talent and sold two of their key players to Premier League clubs in summer 2020. Hakim Ziyech joined Chelsea, while Donny van de Beek moved to Man Utd.
Now, van der Sar has welcomed his former club to bid for more of their players. He insists he would be “doing something wrong” if players did not move on.
“It sounds strange but we are almost honoured if Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United are coming for our players,” Van der Sar said.
“Of course, I’d rather keep them. But having been a player myself, if you give us great service, league titles and commitment, then we think with you and set you along for the next part of your career.
“But we hope that you come back to Ajax and play for another one or two years, come onto our coaching staff or be like myself and Marc (Overmars).
“We know the ambition of the players and if our players are not good enough to be scouted by the top clubs, then we are doing something wrong.
“If Chelsea hadn’t scouted Hakim Ziyech, we’d have done something wrong.”
Van der Sar outlines current role
The Ajax chief executive then explained the similarities between his current role and his old one as a goalkeeper.
“I step in when it is needed,” he said. “When there’s a through-ball between Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand (he claps his hands) then I go out and get it. It’s similar now.
“If they are stuck with a problem that they can’t solve or I see things are going wrong I ask: ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Can I help you?’
“That way, I try to be the sweeper-keeper that I was as a player, now as a chief executive.
“Maybe I exaggerate a little. Because it’s not that simple — it’s a proper job being a chief executive.”