Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has confirmed star players Donny van de Beek, Andre Onana and Nicolas Tagliafico could all leave the club in the next transfer window.
The youthful Champions League semi-finalist side of 2018/19 has already been split up following the departures of Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus, Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona and Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea, and a number of their remaining players have been linked with future exits.
Speaking to Het Parool, the Ajax coach confessed that although the current financial crisis puts big departures in doubt this summer, he accepts the club may have no option but to sell if the right price is put forward.
He said: “The transfer market will start in August – the top leagues are now being played out, so the money flows are maintained.
“The market value of players will be slightly depressed, but not much. Based on their performance and ambition, a number of our players also want to make the move abroad.
“Agreements have been made with Andre Onana, Donny van de Beek and Nicolas Tagliafico, but it remains to be seen whether the market is indeed breaking loose. For Onana and Van de Beek, another year of Ajax could certainly be an option, for Tagliafico it is slightly different because of his age.”
Tagliafico, 27, has been linked with a move to Leicester in recent weeks as a possible replacement for Ben Chilwell, the number one target for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. However, Stamford Bridge remains a heavily touted destination for the Argentina international.
Playmaker Van de Beek has been linked with a move to Real Madrid for some time, but in recent weeks it has been reported that he would prefer a move to Manchester United, where game time would be more of a guarantee.
Stopper Onana has also been heavily linked with Chelsea as well as Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain this season.
Barcelona are confident that if Manchester City’s proposed two-year Champions League ban is upheld, Pep Guardiola can be convinced to return to the Camp Nou dugout.
The Cityzens face worrying times ahead of the 2020/21 season, as they face being exempt from elite European football for the next two campaigns after being found in breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
Currently appealing against the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS are due to give their verdict in the next couple of weeks after City denied UEFA’s allegations had any backing.
Should the ban go ahead, then it will leave the future’s of a number of City’s players up in the air, however, the Express claim it is their manager who may be on the move. They state that Barcelona are keeping a watchful eye on the ruling with the hopes of tempting their former manager back to Catalonia.
La Blaugrana’s form has dropped of late, opening the door for Real Madrid to sneak into top spot in La Liga. However, Quique Setien has been in the job for less than six months and the suggestions they are looking to replace him already appear, on the face of it, as nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to the club’s recent 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo.
That ignores the desires of Guardiola, who is entering the final year of his City deal. It’s been previously claimed by the Spaniard that he sees his future at the Etihad Stadium and the project at hand, regardless of the outcome of their CAS ruling.
He even explained that he is ‘excited’ for the rest of the 2019/20 Premier League season and ‘the next one’. Whether he stays beyond that season is not known for definite, but a summer departure looks exceedingly unlikely.
There is also the issue of finance. With one year left on his City deal, if Barcelona were to bring him back to Spain then they would need to by him out of his contract and, quite frankly, Barça are in serious financial disarray at present. Other than all of that, this story is a dead cert.
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Barcelona boss Quique Setien rued missed chances in his side’s 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday afternoon, as the Catalans handed the advantage back to Real Madrid in the La Liga title race.
It appeared Barça were going to hold on to a slender 2-1 victory following Luis Suarez’s well-taken brace, but Celta struck late on through an Iago Aspas free-kick to restore parity.
It was a mightily disappointing afternoon for Setien, particularly as his side had looked impressive in the opening 45 minutes. The Spaniard was bullish, however, in his assessment of the game, claiming his side warranted walking away with all three points.
“They took a lot of risks in the last few minutes and they found a goal that gave them a point,” Setien said, as quoted by Marca.
“We shouldn’t have got into that situation because we were much the better team in the first half. We had to have gone in at the break with a more comfortable scoreline. I think [football is unfair].
“The superiority we had in the first half was enough to have won the match and gone into [the second half] with more relaxation. We’re finding it difficult. Scoring is sometimes a question of luck.”
Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati and Gerard Pique all spurned glorious openings in the first period, as Barça failed to build on their 1-0 lead before the break.
The result means that if Real beat the lowly Espanyol on Sunday night, they’ll take a two-point lead at the top of the table and Setien says his side will have to win all their remaining six league encounters if they are to pip Los Blancos to the title.
“It’s true that we had a two-point lead 11 matches ago and now, as long as our rivals win, they’ll have that advantage,” he added.
“We’ve got little margin for error now and, in theory, we have to win all our games and hope our rival slips up.
“We’ll try to keep picking up maximum points. We’ll see if we have a bit more solvency in some aspects that make things easier for us.”
Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is keen to leave the club, and Barcelona could look to pursue some form of player-plus-cash deal, with the Catalan giants willing to include either Philippe Coutinho or Nelson Semedo as part of the move.
Ndombele made the switch to north London last summer, with Tottenham forking out over £50m for his services. But while he has shown flashes of brilliance, he hasn’t really been given an extended run in the team.
The midfielder has also come in for criticism from Jose Mourinho, with the boss claiming in March after a draw with Burnley that he should have given ‘more to the team’. Since the Premier League got back underway, he has yet to even come off the bench for Spurs.
It was suggested in April that Ndombele was ‘ready’ to quit Tottenham, with both Barcelona and PSG keen on signing him. The Independent now report that Barça remain keen on his services, but their financial struggles at this moment in time can’t be ignored. As a result, while they are keen on bringing him to Camp Nou, they will only be willing to discuss a deal if it involves a player exchange.
The report adds that La Blaugrana are willing to include either Coutinho or Semedo, both of whom have been linked with moves away from the club in recent times, as part of the deal. Spurs will look to stand firm in their valuation of Ndombele (the same amount they paid to Lyon), but Mourinho ‘may’ decide it is better for the club to part ways and start fresh.
Coutinho is free to leave Barça and his agent has admitted that the playmaker is keen on a return to the Premier League. It has already been suggested that Spurs are willing to offer Ndombele (and/or Toby Alderweireld) as part of the deal, but it wasn’t clear at the time whether Barcelona would go for it.
However, while it appears as though Ndombele is keen on departing north London and Barcelona do not wish to keep hold of Coutinho, this remains a very complicated deal with a number of obstacles. Most notably, Barcelona would demand cash on top of Ndombele for Coutinho, an amount Spurs will likely try to negotiate, while there is also the issue of the Brazilian’s wages.
Barcelona lost ground in the La Liga title race as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors started brightly and after Gerard Pique was denied by the crossbar in the opening stages, Luis Suarez soon gave Quique Setien’s side the lead after Lionel Messi outfoxed Celta’s attempt to stop the Argentine from scoring directly from a free-kick to find Suarez lurking at the back post.
Celta responded well to going a down, however, as Iago Aspas spurned a couple of promising openings in transition and Marc-Andre ter Stegen deflected Brais Mendez’s deft dink onto the post.
Barca were impressive going forward, though, and they should’ve doubled their lead before the break through Ansu Fati then Messi – who uncharacteristically missed the most typical Messi finish from just outside the area.
The hosts eventually exposed Barca’s unbalanced defensive line in transition shortly after the restart through Fedor Smolov to restore parity, before Suarez grabbed his second of the game after the hour mark following some tenacious work from Nelson Semedo to win the ball back.
Celta pegged back the Catalans for a second time late on though, as Aspas craftily rounded to wall from a free-kick to beat a stationary ter Stegen just two minutes from time. It could’ve got worse for Barcelona in the dying embers, but Nolito fluffed his lines when presented with a glorious chance.
The result means Real Madrid will take a two-point lead at the top if they overcome Espanyol on Sunday night.
Subs: Nolito (5), Rafinha (8), Bradaric (6), Murillo (7), Santa Mina (5)
Key Talking Point
With Celta set-up in a deep 5-3-2, this one was – once again – about how well Barcelona could break down a low block. They had struggled past Athletic’s back five last time out and were stifled by a dogged Sevilla unit the game before that.
This time around, it was a game of two halves for Setien’s men.
With Ivan Rakitic serving as the metronome in front of the back four and the dynamic Riqui Puiq thrust into the starting XI following his game-changing performance off the bench last time out, Barca circulated possession at a much faster tempo in the opening period, while width was constantly being provided by both full-backs – challenging the hosts’ compactness.
While they struggled to create clear cut chances, they were able to work plenty of openings as a result of their improved build-up play and structure in attacks against a deep block.
The second period saw them revert to their slow tempo in attack, and a Rafinha-inspired Celta put the visitors firmly on the back foot following the Brazilian’s introduction. In the end, they were fortunate to escape with a point after Aspas levelled late on.
Setien still has much to work on despite signs of improvement in the first half. They were appalling in defensive transition today.
Subs: Braithwaite (5), Griezmann (5), Firpo (5), Arthur (5).
Was his overall influence on proceedings limited? Sure. But we saw more indication of Luis Suarez returning to his best on Saturday afternoon with a well-taken brace.
While he has the genius of Messi to thank for his first, his second was vintage Suarez.
After Semedo counter-pressed brilliantly in the Celta box to win back possession, the ball eventually fell to Messi who subtly slid a pass across to a marked Suarez. The Uruguayan, however, used his body expertly to create just a yard of space before toe-poking his left-footed effort into the far corner.
It’s a pity, however, that it didn’t prove to be the winner.
Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in a crunch encounter on Tuesday night before travelling to Villarreal next weekend for another tricky test.
Celta, meanwhile, visit Mallorca in the week – with a win in that one all but securing their status in La Liga for next season.