"Pre-season is always a good time," the coach said. "The players have come back with a lot of energy and motivation. They want to make this a great season."
Not everyone is back in Amsterdam yet, though. The Dutch internationals are still enjoying their holidays after their time at the European Championship. The Argentines are still fighting in the Copa América. Both Edson Álvarez and Sean Klaiber have traveled to America for the Gold Cup, while Antony is competing in the Olympics in Tokyo.
That leaves room in the team for some of the younger talents. "Ajax has a top youth academy. In these weeks, we can view and assess these talents nicely. We can see whether they can already join in or whether they need an extra year in Jong Ajax."
"Every year a player has come forward," Ten Haag added. "First we had Noussair Mazraoui, then Sergiño Dest, and last season Devyne Rensch. I hope and expect that it will be the case again this year."
Raising the bar
The ambitions for the coming season are clear: to win trophies. But the bar has to be risen for the European stage. "We have grown in the past three and a half years. We are participating again in Europe and that is good. A very serious ambition of ours is to make it through the winter break and have Champions League football on the other side of it."
The trainer hopes to keep the current squad together in order to achieve his goals. "I don't expect that many changes. The balance is good between old and young. We have a leading group. Around that you have the South Americans who certainly add something to this group in terms of mentality. And there are young talents again."
In the past week, captain Tadic was the subject of transfer rumors. His departure is an absolute impossibility for Ajax, says Ten Hag. "That is, indeed, impossible. He is extremely important; on the field, but certainly also off the field. He is an absolute key player."