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Manchester United have started talks with Ajax over the summer transfer of defender Jurrien Timber, The Guardian reports.

The Red Devils are eyeing a new central defender this summer. It appears Timber is the prime target, having played the last two years at Ajax under manager Erik ten Hag.

In recent weeks, the Netherlands international has been frequently linked, and The Guardian report that United have now made contact with Ajax for the 20-year-old.

Ten Hag was key to Timber breaking through the Ajax youth setup in 2020, and he is a ‘firm admirer’ of him. Ajax currently value their graduate at around £43 million.

United conceded a staggering 57 goals in their Premier League campaign last term. The arrival of Raphael Varane last summer did not necessarily improve their defensive showing.

The Frenchman joined from Real Madrid with huge expectations, but struggled to adapt to the style of play. He was also hampered by multiple injuries that saw him in-and-out of the line-up.

Varane is still best central defender in the squad based on achievements and experience, and any new signing could potentially take the place of Harry Maguire or Victor Lindelof in the XI.

Timber has shown plenty of promise during the last two years at Ajax. He has been good with his defensive duties, and averaged over two tackles per game in all competitions last season.

The youngster has also been terrific with the ball at his feet. He completed 92 per cent of his passes. Among United centre-backs, Varane fared best with a 88 per cent success rate last season.

Timber should be a quality long-term signing for United, but the hierarchy will definitely want to lower the final transfer fee, having signed Donny van de Beek for around £35m in 2020.

Meanwhile, Varane should be fancied to come good next term as he will be involved for United from pre-season which was not the case last year when he started training in mid-August.

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Man United have confirmed Erik ten Hag as their next manager

Manchester United have confirmed Ajax boss Erik ten Hag will become the club’s new manager this summer.

The Dutchman, 52, has agreed a three-year deal at Old Trafford with an option to extend for a further year and will take over from interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who will move into a consultancy role.

Closing in on a third Eredivisie title with Ajax this term, Ten Hag had emerged as the Red Devils’ preferred candidate in recent weeks and the club have now landed their man.

Fine work in Amsterdam has seen Ten Hag build a reputation as one of world football’s most exciting coaches and he is now tasked with bringing the good times back to the 20-time English champions. 

Ten Hag said: “It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead. I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans, and I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering the success they deserve.

“It will be difficult to leave Ajax after these incredible years, and I can assure our fans of my complete commitment and focus on bringing this season to a successful conclusion before I move to Manchester United.”

United football director John Murtough added: “During the past four years at Ajax, Erik has proved himself to be one of the most exciting and successful coaches in Europe, renowned for his team’s attractive, attacking football and commitment to youth.

“In our conversations with Erik leading up to this appointment, we were deeply impressed with his long-term vision for returning Manchester United to the level we want to be competing at, and his drive and determination to achieve that.

“We wish Erik the best of luck as he focuses on achieving a successful end to the season at Ajax and look forward to welcoming him to Manchester United this summer.”

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Sebastien Haller scored four goals as Ajax Amsterdam picked apart Portuguese hosts Sporting CP for a one-sided 5-1 victory at the start of their Champions League Group C campaign on Wednesday.

The tall striker netted twice in the opening 10 minutes to set Ajax on their way, and completed his hat-trick early in the second half before adding another goal just after the hour mark at Lisbon’s Jose Alvalade Stadium.

Steven Berghuis claimed his first goal for his new club to add to the tally while Paulinho got the home team’s consolation.

The combination of winger Antony and Haller proved lethal as Ajax got off to a dream start in the second minute, with the Brazilian’s shot deflected on to the post and Haller dipping his head to get to the rebound.

Antony’s run down the right set up Haller’s second after nine minutes before Paulinho pulled one back in the 33rd minute with an angled shot that Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasveer let slip under his body.

Berghuis ensured a 3-1 halftime lead with a polished side-foot finish but Paulinho had the ball in the Ajax net straight after the break only to be ruled offside after a VAR check.

Haller, whom Ajax forgot to register for European club competition last season in an embarrassing administrative botch-up, then added two more in the 51st and 63rd minutes.

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UEFA rejects Ajax’s Bob Marley tribute shirt

The Netherlands champion received wide praise and a rush of sales in the offseason for launching a black uniform with small red, yellow and green birds on the back of the shirt collar

Ajax must change its popular Bob Marley-themed shirts in Champions League games because the three little birds motif breaks equipment rules, UEFA said.

The Netherlands champion received wide praise and a rush of sales in the offseason for launching a black uniform with small red, yellow and green birds on the back of the shirt collar.

It’s a tribute to Ajax fans singing Marley’s “Three Little Birds” at games as their anthem.

UEFA said the club was told after submitting the design for approval one year ago it would not be approved to wear in games.

“The three birds being a tribute to Bob Marley’s song do not represent a team identification of Ajax as set out in Article 13 of the equipment regulations,” UEFA said in a statement on Tuesday, adding the manufacturer “was given the options about how the design could be adapted.”

Ajax decided its players will wear game shirts without the motif while selling a version to fans with the birds.

The team’s home uniform is iconic thick red and white vertical stripes.

Ajax’s Champions League campaign starts Wednesday at Sporting Lisbon. The group also includes Borussia Dortmund and Besiktas.

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Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek has been ruled out of the Netherlands’ Euro 2020 campaign due to injury.

Van de Beek arrived at Old Trafford from Ajax in a deal worth £35m last summer, but has struggled to make his mark with the Red Devils, having only made four Premier League appearances for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

The 24-year-old was an unused substitute for his national side in their first Euro 2020 warm-up fixture against Scotland, and did not feature in Frank de Boer’s squad on Sunday against Georgia.

Netherlands revealed on Tuesday morning that the Man United man has now been ruled out for the entire tournament, and that De Boer would not be selecting a replacement for the midfielder.

Van de Beek has represented the national side through the youth ranks and earned his senior debut in 2017, before going on to make 19 appearances for the Netherlands.

The midfielder will now start his recovery and hope to make a bigger impression in the Man United side next season.

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Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is open to the possibility of becoming Tottenham Hotspur’s new manager.

Spurs are still searching for a permanent candidate for the role, having dismissed Jose Mourinho last Monday.

It’s now understood that Ten Hag ranks highly on Tottenham’s manager shortlist and the club are keen to strike a deal with the 51-year-old.

According to sports journalist Fabrizio Romano, Spurs have scheduled a ‘direct meeting’ with Erik ten Hag and the Dutchman is open to leaving Ajax in the summer.

Ajax are on the verge of becoming league champions once again and require only a point at home to Emmen on Sunday to secure the Eredivisie title.

Ten Hag took charge of Ajax in December 2017, following previous spells with fellow Dutch sides Go Ahead Eagles and Utrecht.

He previously faced Tottenham in the 2019, suffering a devastating Champions League semi-final defeat courtesy of a Lucas Moura inspired second leg fightback.

Other potential candidates for the role have included Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers, Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo, former RB Leipzig manager Ralf Rangnick and departing RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Spurs had wanted Nagelsmann to replace Mourinho, but Bayern Munich recently agreed terms for the 33-year-old to become their new coach from July

Ryan Mason is currently in caretaker charge of Spurs until the end of the season.

As well as finding Mourinho’s long-term successor, another priority for chairman Daniel Levy is addressing Harry Kane’s future at the club.

The 27-year-old striker is under contract until June 2024 and has again reiterated his desire to win trophies as opposed to individual awards.

“Individual awards are great, they are fantastic achievements,” said Kane.

“When I look back at the end of my career, these are the things I will go over and take in more, but the goal right now as a player is to win team trophies. I want to be winning the biggest prizes there is to offer and we are not quite doing that.”

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Substitute David Neres scored two minutes into injury time to hand Ajax a thrilling 2-1 victory over Vitesse as they claimed a record-extending 20th Dutch Cup title on Sunday.

Neres steered the ball into the back of the net from Sebastien Haller’s headed assist to help Ajax retain the title they won in 2019. The competition was not completed last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ryan Gravenberch put Ajax ahead in the first half but Vitesse, whose only cup final win came in 2017, equalised seven minutes later as Lois Openda scored from close-range.

Vitesse lost centre-back Jacob Rasmussen to a straight red card four minutes from the end and his absence was felt as Ajax piled on the pressure in the closing stages and were rewarded with Neres’ winner.

The win kept Ajax on track to complete a league and cup double as they lead second-placed PSV Eindhoven by 11 points on top of the Dutch Eredivisie.

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Manchester United will face Granada and Arsenal will take on Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

United narrowly saw off Italian giants AC Milan in the last-16 with a 2-1 aggregate win and were rewarded with a kind-looking draw against the Spanish side.

Arsenal, meanwhile, survived a scare to beat Olympiacos 3-2 on aggregate to book their place in the final eight, and their reward is a game against Leicester and Rangers conquerers Slavia.

The other two games are Ajax vs Roma and Dinamo Zagreb vs Villarreal.

Both English sides should feel relatively pleased with the draws they received.

And if they make it that far United and Arsenal could meet in the final after they were kept apart for the potential semi-finals, which were drawn at the same time

The winner of Granada vs United will take on the winner of Ajax against Roma.

And whoever comes out on top between Dinamo Zagreb and Villarreal will face the winner of Arsenal and Slavia Prague.

The quarter-final first legs will take place on April 8, with the return games a week later on April 15.

And the first leg of the semis are scheduled for April 29, with the return on May 6.

And the showpiece final to put in the diary will go ahead on May 26 at Poland’s Gdansk Stadium.

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West Ham striker Sebastien Haller is close to sealing a move to the Eredivisie with Dutch giants Ajax.

Reports say the striker, 26, is the subject of ongoing negotiations between the two clubs.

The fee for his services is likely to reach around €25 million (£22.6m/$31m), with a meeting scheduled on Thursday to finalise the agreement between all the parties.

Haller is well-regarded in the Netherlands, having shined in the country during a previous spell in the Eredivisie.

From 2015 to 2017 the Ivory Coast international starred with Utrecht, having landed at the club after struggling to establish himself at Auxerre.

He netted a total of 51 goals in 98 games for Utrecht, form which earned him a transfer to the Bundesliga with Frankfurt.

And after two years in Germany, West Ham swooped in 2019 to make him part of their squad in a £45 million transfer.

Haller, however, has never Tully convinced in the Premier League, starting just 10 games in the current campaign.

A stunning overhead kick against Crystal Palace back in December was a rare moment of celebration for the forward, who expressed his hopes that the goal would help him build his confidence and remain in David Moyes’ plans.

“To be honest, I used to score a goal like that every season, so I’m used to it!” he explained to West Ham’s official website.

“I think it’s kind of special and I’m just happy because it was a beautiful goal and it helped us to get one point. I think we deserved three and we should have gone for the three, but I’m happy.

“I got two last season, against Watford and Bournemouth, so hopefully I can get another one on Monday at Chelsea – that’s the only thing I’d ask for, a goal like that! “It’s good for the eyes, for the confidence and for everything, but a goal is a goal so at the end it’s just one goal.”

Haller, who represented France throughout the youth divisions before opting to represent Ivory Coast at senior level, has played 54 games in all competitions for West Ham to date, scoring 14 goals.

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Ajax forward Quincy Promes was released from jail on Tuesday following his arrest in connection with his alleged involvement in a stabbing that took place in July, but remains a suspect.

Promes missed training with Ajax on Sunday following his arrest and is denying any involvement in the alleged incident.

Promes’ lawyer told Dutch news agency ANP: “Promes was not on site at the time of the incident. Promes is fully cooperating with the investigation.”

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported a stabbing happened in Abcoude, just south of Amsterdam, at a family reunion hosted by Promes on the premises of a company he owns. The report added the player got into a fight with one of his relatives there and stabbed him.

“It’s very worrisome but being accused of something doesn’t mean you did it,” Ajax had told FOX Sports Netherlands in a statement following his arrest. “It is therefore too premature to say anything about it from Ajax.”

Police did not confirm the identity of the suspect but said a 28-year-old from Amsterdam had been arrested in connection with the alleged incident. Police said the man stabbed, who was seriously injured in the incident, pressed charges last month.

Promes has scored seven goals in 47 international appearances for the Dutch national team, and scored Ajax’s second goal in their 4-0 win over PEC Zwolle on Saturday.

Ajax face Utrecht in the Dutch Cup on Wednesday with Promes in contention to make the squad.