Ajax’s young squad will not be overawed when they meet Manchester United in the Europa League final on Wednesday night in Stockholm, according to former Ajax and United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
The Dutch side have displayed no signs of nerves as they reached their first European final since 1996, despite having an average age of just 22.
Speaking to the Times, Van der Sar said, “They have played the same system, the same philosophy and they know what to do when the game starts.”
“Sometimes you know what they can do but in other clubs they don’t get the opportunity to show it. At Ajax, you get the opportunity.
“You saw it in the games against Schalke (in the quarter-final) and Lyon (in the semi-final). I never saw in those games that these boys could not play in the final.”
Ajax are often forced to sell their best players to Europe’s richer clubs, but Van der Sar said that should that happen they already have new young players coming through the ranks.
— AFC Ajax (English) (@AFCAjax_EN) May 23, 2017
Already, 19-year-old Danish striker Kasper Dolberg and captain Davy Klaassen have been linked with moves to clubs including Manchester City and Everton, while United are also said to be looking at Dolberg.
“At a certain point, at 24-25, they are ready to take the next step to a different club and we know that. That is not a problem,” he added.
“If our academy works well, then his follow-up is there already and pushing him out of the club because he wants to take his place.
“We will maybe lose one player in the summer but I think this team is going to stick around for a few years.”