Frank de Boer gave his first press conference of the new season on Wednesday afternoon. Right before Ajax’s first training at the Toekomst, he spoke with several journalists. Ajax’s goal is, as it is every year, crystal clear. De Boer: “We’re going for the championship and the cup. We also want to get through the winter break in European football.”
Last year at this time, De Boer and his staff members had a better idea of what they were facing. “Almost everything was clear in terms of transfers. Now we’re still in the dark”, said De Boer. Whether Jan Vertonghen will leave Ajax for another club is one of the question marks. Whether a winger, or extra centre forward will join the selection is just as unclear. De Boer thinks the situation around his captain, Vertonghen, will be clear soon. “It’s business. He has his interests, but Ajax itself has its own interests. But you don’t just replace someone like Jan. There’s a big chance that things will get worse with a replacement. Perhaps another player can get into the same path as Jan was three years ago.”
Whether or not Luciano Narsingh will be the new attacking winger is less obvious. The difference between what the club can offer and what the player is asking for is still too big. De Boer: “I think we’ve made him a very good offer. So it’s up to him to accept it, or not.” This unambiguity coming from the ArenA fits with Ajax’s new guidelines. Don’t spend more than you have. “We want to stay financially sound, as a club. We won’t spend money before we’ve earned it. But I would have loved to present Narsingh today.” Sending a new offer to the sc Heerenveen player doesn’t seem to be in the cards. “We have a limit and we’ve reached it. It’s what we think a player is worth.”
If Vertonghen transfers before August 31, a new captain will need to be designated. The technical staff already has a successor in mind. “We’ve decided that. But I’m not going to reveal who it would be; I’m first going to tell the player himself.” In any case, the new captain won’t be Bulykin. At his own request, the Russian is training until July 1, when his contract expires. Ismaïl Aissati is leaving Ajax. “Our visions were too different”, says the Ajax coach. Geoffrey Castillion (loaned out to RKC Waalwijk last season) and Mounir El Hamdaoui will start with Jong Ajax on July 9. Via the reserves, the forwards can fight their way back into the first team.
Eyong Enoh returned injured from Cameroon after the holidays. The midfielder sustained an injury to his kneecap during an interland match. Enoh will be out for two to three weeks. Nicolai Boilesen will also have to watch from the sidelines for the time being. Both players therefore missed the first public training. “We’re looking at the situation week to week. Miralem Sulejmani is doing well. He’s training individually.”
In addition to these athletic ambitions, De Boer is also counting on his players’ individual progress. Ajax players need to continue to develop themselves and become more and more important within the team. “The guys are a year older and better.” The fairly new medical staff needs to prove itself. De Boer: “We are always looking to take steps upward, both in the medical and athletic areas. There are many new people. We had intake meetings on Monday. The medical staff thought it was important to sit down together. Among other things, to get an overview of the players.”