He once said he wanted to return to Ajax, is still in contact with employees of the club and in Barcelona there is a big cleanup. Enough ingredients to fantasize about the arrival of Luis Suárez in Amsterdam. For the fans then.
“He’s very welcome, but I’m not going to daydream about it”, assures Ajax trainer Erik ten Hag in Bramberg, Austria, where the people of Amsterdam are preparing for the new football season, which starts for them on 13 September.
Ten Hag: “Players like Suárez can give an impulse, are an absolute added value. But contact? No, there isn’t. We also don’t need to stir, only when absolute strengths leave, is there.”
And those strongmen are still under contract in Amsterdam. Hakim Ziyech nowadays defends the colours of Chelsea and Joël Veltman experiences his dreamed foreign adventure at Brighton, but for the rest of Ajax’ top sellers it’s just interest and rumours about it.
And the fact that Ajax has been sure of a place in the group stage of the Champions League since Wednesday, men like Donny van de Beek, André Onana, Nicolás Tagliafico and Sergiño Dest can, according to Ten Hag, convince them to stay in Amsterdam.
“The Champions League is definitely a motivation to stay with Ajax. They know what they have here, that they are in a good team and we are competitive in that league“, says Ten Hag.
“We play at the highest level and we’ve seen what that does to players in recent years. How they can develop on that stage, how they can excel in the Ajax playing style. That ultimately leads to very nice careers.”
Purchases Antony and Mohammed Kudus make a good impression, but Ten Hag does not have to be there directly. And so the coach is in the for him unprecedented luxury of being able to work towards the start of the competition with a team that has been played in, without the pithy European pots that have to be won
Ten Hag: “We always had to qualify immediately for the Champions League and fit in new players. Now I don’t have those factors. For the first time I can work towards the season with a fixed selection. That’s totally different.”
“If we keep this group together, I think we’ll be right there at the start of the season. I have a good feeling. The players are very fit and mentally good for it. But we won’t know until the league starts.”
Also because that team can lose important parts until mid-October, when the English transfer market closes as the last of the five major European competitions. Perhaps a Luis Suárez will have to be fitted in after all. “Players like Suárez are always welcome at Ajax.”
Ten Hag indicated that Ajax doesn’t have to fear that he will suddenly walk out the door himself, to the Dutch national team: