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Tagliafico announces stay at Ajax for another year

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There may be an exodus of young talent from Dutch side Ajax this coming summer as the club continues its stunning run through the Champions League, but they are doing their best to convince as many players as possible to stick around.

The club announced Friday that Argentinian international Nicolas Tagliafico would not be leaving this summer, and while there was no contract extension to go along with the announcement, it was a short and sweet statement from the defender to help ease fans before the impending sales to come.

The 26-year-old left-back, who was a consistent starter for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup and has since worn the captain’s armband for a few post-World Cup friendlies in Lionel Messi’s absence, joined Ajax last summer from Argentinian club Independente and signed a four-year deal through the summer of 2022.

The announcement marks a slight change in heart for the Argentinian, who just a month ago admitted he could leave the Dutch side soon. “I think in the summer it could be a natural time to take the step,” Tagliafico said in early April. “But I try not to think about taking that step just yet because we have many important games to focus on. Yes, it [the transfer speculation] is flattering because I think it’s the most competitive league. When you are a child, the target is to come to Europe and play in a top league like the Premier League. I came to Ajax because of the philosophy, the style of football and the club.”

Tagliafico’s announcement comes just a month after goalkeeper Andre Onana committed his long-term future to the club with a contract extension signed in late March. “I like to play and here I have the opportunity to play and that’s why I extend my contract,” the 23-year-old goalkeeper said to the club’s official website after signing his extension through 2022. “Ajax did so many things for me and that’s why I extend my contract. For me it’s important to give something back. It was a difficult decision but when you’re a young player, it’s important to choose game time, not only going to a big club when you’re not going to play.”

Onana joined Ajax from Barcelona’s youth academy in 2015, having made his way to Spain through Samuel Eto'o‘s academy in Cameroon. His previous deal was set to expire in 2021, meaning this summer would have been the two-year mark, a popular selling time for a club that wishes to cash in on a player before his value diminishes. He had been linked with a number of top sides including Manchester United and a return to Barcelona, but the extension will give Ajax firm control over anyone who wishes to come make an offer.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong has already been officially sold to Barcelona, while fellow young Dutch stars such as Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt have been highly touted and are widely speculated to be leaving the club this summer, along with Moroccan international Hakim Ziyech. Ajax will no doubt profit greatly from their departure, but will want to learn from the mistakes Monaco made after allowing a wealth of young talent like Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, and Tiemoue Bakayoko all leave the club in one summer, leaving the club in a dire position this season battling relegation.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who now serves as the club’s CEO, addressed the potential departures, admitting that is the way the club stays afloat and continues the pipeline, but cautioned against selling too much.

“We know that’s a fact. That’s the history of Ajax all along. It has been in the 70s, 80s and 90s, so we know that,” he said to BT Sport before the Champions League first-leg match against Tottenham earlier in the week. “That also gives space for the younger players, guys who are 19 or 20. In two years time, they will be playing at this kind of level. We’re not going to sell seven players. We need to make sure we can stay competitive. We like this stage of the competition and we like the recognition, so we’re not going to break up the complete team. Of course that’s Ajax development, giving young players a chance.”

The presence of Tagliafico alongside veterans Daley Blind, Lasse Schone, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, plus Onana’s stay will give the club a solid base to flow more young talent through the ranks.

UEFA investigating Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos for intentional yellow card

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Sergio Ramos could be in hot water in Champions League play.

The Real Madrid defender, known for his fiery play and widespread hateability, is being investigated by UEFA for intentionally earning a yellow card in the dying minutes of Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Dutch club Ajax on Wednesday.

The yellow card, earned in the 89th minute for a trip of Ajax youngster Kasper Dolberg, earns Ramos a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation, having earned three cautions since the start of group stage play. All cards are wiped clean after the quarterfinals match, so Ramos may have intentionally earned a caution with Madrid in a good position heading into the home leg instead of risking a suspension in the following round against a stronger opponent.

Adding to the case against the Spaniard are his comments immediately after the match, where he reportedly told media members, “Looking at the result, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t force [the booking]. It is not to underestimate the opponent nor to think that the series is over, but in football you have to make tough decisions.” Ramos then backtracked his comments, writing on Twitter to deny that he earned the caution intentionally.

In addition, there is apparently footage of Ramos during the game asking his teammates if he should indeed look to earn a card.

UEFA could up his standard one-match ban to a two-match suspension if they determine he did indeed intentionally look to earn a caution. There is recent precedent for this, having handed down punishment to Ramos’s Real Madrid teammate Dani Carvajal for such a violation in the final minutes of a 6-0 win over APOEL Nicosia during last year’s tournament.

Rumors: Could Frenkie de Jong be headed to PSG?

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According to a number of reports, most notably from Dutch publication De Telegraaf, Ajax youngster Frenkie de Jong is “almost certainly” headed to Pairs Saint-Germain this winter, or soon after.

However, there are a few parties not so moved by the recent reports, doing their best to refute the news and insist the 21-year-old will stay at the Dutch giants at least through the summer.

The De Telegraaf report states that a deal was struck between the two clubs with both parties meeting in Amsterdam on Thursday, and the French club was willing to meet the asking price of $86 million set by Ajax technical director Marc Overmars. However, to counter that news, De Jong’s agent Ali Dursan went public to counter what was reported.

“There’s no deal yet,” Dursan told fellow Dutch publication NOS. “Frenkie will stay at Ajax til next summer. That’s guaranteed, and it’s all I can say right now.”

In addition, a report by French publication Le Parisien said that while they can confirm the parties met, but that no agreement was struck. They also revealed that the French giants are angered by the news of their discussions leaking, as well as the subsequent asking price, as it may spur on their competitors for De Jong’s signature, with Barcelona, Manchester United, and Manchester City all listed, and Bayern Munich rumored in the past as well.

De Jong has made 12 Eredivisie appearances for Ajax this season, mostly at defensive midfielder, and is one of the most highly regarded young talents in Europe. He has scored two goals so far this league season, and picked up his first assist in a 5-1 win over ADO Den Haag five days ago. A transfer of the suggested amount would be a record high for an Eredivisie player,