Botman, the man of eight million, in Lille: “Not normal for me either

“Actually, I was fine with Ajax, I had just signed in. But after Lille’s interest, Ajax also said: we want to continue with you, but for a certain amount of money and if you want it too, we’ll work on a transfer.”

Excellent defender

Ajax trainer Erik ten Hag was not surprised by the transfer and the amount paid for Botman. “He’s an excellent defender. Absolutely Ajax-worthy, but we also have Daley Blind and Lisandro Martรญnez. That position is double.”

Ten Hag could therefore offer Botman little perspective. “While that boy does have potential, then came that offer. He’s worth it anyway,” said the trainer.

Feel better

Botman went through youth training from the age of nine with Ajax, but played less than a minute in the first team. For the 1,93 meter long defender the question was whether that would happen this season.

“Of course I never know what it would have been like if I had stayed with Ajax, but my feeling after the conversation with Lille was more hopeful and better than with Ajax. Not that it wasn’t good at Ajax, I could make more minutes within a year and maybe get into the basics, but the plan and feeling with Lille was just much better.”

At Lille, which finished fourth in the French league last season, Botman has been given a role as a base player. On Saturday he made his debut in the Ligue 1. He was in the base in the game against Rennes (1-1) and played ninety minutes.

The first impressions he got at the French club reinforce that good feeling. “They immediately gave me the feeling that I’m an important player. I didn’t know that feeling yet, so I have to get used to it. They ask if everything goes well and if they can arrange things for me. I’m very comfortable.”

And so Botman sees a bright future for himself in France. “I was surprised there was sudden interest, but I think of myself as a footballer abroad.”

“I’m a defender who loves to play duels. Abroad, I think, I’m better off.”