Edwin van der Sar hopes to see Justin Kluivert continue his development at Ajax, rather than join a European giant too soon. The 18-year-old has been linked with Barcelona and Manchester United due to his standout performances in the Eredivisie, which also earned him his full international debut with Holland in last month 3-0 win over Portugal.
Promising future ahead
Van der Sar, who began his storied senior career with Ajax and is now the club's chief executive officer, accepts the forward will eventually move elsewhere, but wants him to challenge for trophies at the Johan Cruijff ArenA first.
"Everybody knows that we develop fantastic players," he told Omnisport. "But for us we want [them] to shine in the ArenA, that they win trophies for us in a couple of years' time and then they go to a bigger competition, bigger league. But the aim is to keep them for several years here. Hopefully, they follow the path of many of the players that Ajax brought forward, like Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp. Marco van Basten, Patrick Kluivert, Frank de Boer, [Edgar] Davids, [Clarence] Seedorf, [Wesley] Sneijder... It's a long list and hopefully they have a successful career at Ajax first and then they're able to make the next step."
Just like his Dad
Kluivert is the son of former Barcelona and Holland star Patrick Kluivert, who was part of the exciting young Ajax side that won the Champions League in 1995. And Van der Sar sees a similarity between the two when it comes to a ruthlessness in front of goal, even though they have very different playing styles.
"The son is following in the footsteps of the dad," he said. "Of course, he has a different physique, different attributes. He's quicker and left and right-footed, whereas Patrick was the main striker. For him, it's a great story. He's a bit smaller but he's faster and he has an eye for goal. I think that's what they have in common. He's only 18. He's only played 25 matches for the first team so there's still a very long way to go. He's got great potential and it's very rewarding to see what they've learned from the youth coaches, the policy and the philosophy that Ajax always puts forward. We look at the academy, look what players are there before we buy someone and that way it's extremely rewarding to work in a club like Ajax."