With the majority of my senior players either still on holiday or playing in the European Championships, the training ground had been pretty quiet, besides the youngsters, and the ones that wanted to hit the ground running into the new season. With a European Championship Semi-Final against Spain on the horizon, the country was gripped, and rightly so. Dutch football was on the up. Taking in my surroundings, i heard a familiar voice behind me.
“Milan, figured i’d find you out here.” Without even turning around, i knew instantly it was my good friend and Director of Football here at Ajax, Marc Overmars.
“It’s peaceful this time of year. Why not take in all that we accomplished last year, right here. And look forward to new beginnings next season.”
“Well i’ve got some news, with regards to the playing roster, we need to reduce it. We understood your request for you to see who’s got what it takes and who hasn’t for the first year. Now for those that haven’t, they need to move on. Last season was impressive on and off the pitch, and i’m confident we can do the same again this season. But it’s imperative we reduce costs, to maintain that flow through the club. So who’s it to be.” Even though we are best friends, and he was my best man, Marc was ruthless on the pitch as a player and he’s taken that approach into becoming the director of football. He approached me for the job, i made sure he stayed despite advances from his old club, Arsenal.
“Okore, Llorente, Arabidze, De Tomas, Kaj Sierhuis, Jairo are the main ones. And if we get big enough offers, then Onana, Neres and Ziyech can go. But not on the cheap. With the transfer market the way it is, we should be able to pull in at least £100 million.” Marc stood before me shocked, that i mentioned the last three names.
“Andre, David and Hakim? Are you sure about this? They’ll bring in a huge chunk of that, but the quality they’ve got can’t be denied.” Placing an a hand on his shoulder, i just smiled.
“Don’t worry, my friend. Pau Lopez replaces Andre. We’ve got Trincao and Doan, as well as Che to replace David. Pelayo, Ramires and Kasey Palmer are more than capable of filling, Hakim’s boots. You trusted me enough to give me this opportunity, and i repaid you. Now trust me again and know what i’m doing is best for this club.” Marc smiled back at me, nodding his head.
“Of course my friend, my trust in you will never waiver. But i need to ask something of you as well, Milan.” Marc was abit more serious this time.
“We’ve made a business decision and brought in a new signing to staff. She’s going to do a wide range of positions. To start with she’’s going to model our new kits, she’s an athletic trainer, and has over 319k followers on instagram, so the extra exposure to her fans will be greatly rewarding for us. But not only that, she’s an Ajax fan and wanted to work with the first team, youth, whatever you want her to do in the fitness department.” Marc was abit hesitant, because this was an appointment behind my back. And he’s sure i wouldn’t agree to it.
“But, Milan, if you agree. I’d advise for it not to be in the medical department, because otherwise all the players will be faking injuries. Her name is Anniek van Keulen. An absolute head turner. And we need you to show her around, show her the ropes, then place her where you want.” He said with a grin.
“Ok, i’ll show her around and if there’s a job for her in the fitness side of things, then we’ll see what she’s got. But if she distracts the lads too much, she’s gone.” Marc laughed knowing Milan’s work ethic out on that field. If the players don’t give 120% in training and come match day, they’ll find themselves benched.
“Thank you, friend. Me, Edwin, Marco, Wim, Michael (Reiziger), Aron, John (Heitinga), Winston, Richard (Witschge), Cedric, Patrick, Clarence and Jaap are all meeting up later to head over to Wembley to watch Oranje defeat Spain, you coming?” I smiled, nodding.
“Try and stop me.”