REUTERS - Ajax Amsterdam’s youthful squad will not be overawed by the occasion when they face Manchester United in the Europa League final on Wednesday, former Ajax and United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has said.
Despite an average age of 22, the Dutch side led by manager Peter Bosz have displayed no sign of nerves in beating Schalke 04 and Olympique Lyonnais to reach their first European final since 1996.
“They have played the same system. They have the same philosophy and they know what to do when the game starts,” Van der Sar told the Times.
”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 have often had to sell their best players to richer rivals in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
And while 19-year-old striker Kasper Dolberg and captain Davy Klaassen have already linked with moves at the end of the season, Van der Sar said academy prospects were already groomed to replace any outgoing players.
“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.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford