AMSTERDAM – Ajax Amsterdam will have to change their playing style after the sale of Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea and the possibility of up to six others leaving before the new season in the Netherlands starts, coach Erik ten Hag said as they began pre-season training.
Ziyech was one of the key figures when Ajax reached the Champions League semi-final last season and also dominated in the Dutch league, but success for the club has meant their players have been in high demand.
Last season they sold Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus, and in recent days Joel Veltman has gone to Brighton and Hove Albion and Sven Botman to Lille.
It is expected that Andre Onana, Nicolas Tagliafico and Donny van de Beek could also still leave before the new season gets underway next month.
“If you lose players who have had a big influence on the game, the playing style will change,” ten Hag told Dutch NOS television on Sunday.
“You lack specific qualities. But of course the intentions remain the same. You should always set the bar higher than last season. The challenge is to get even more out of the players who are there now.
“We have put together a selection that is strong. We have two players for each position, except the left-back. We have to see if we can fill it in internally or if we have to look outside,” he added.
Ajax have signed Brazilian teenage striker Antony, who signed from São Paulo for 15 million euros, but ten Hag said he will need time to adjust.
“He will enter a new league on a new continent with a different language. He has specific qualities and we have to see how that fits with Ajax,” the coach added.