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Ajax confirm Van de Beek can leave. Where next?

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Donny van de Beek is free to leave Ajax when the next transfer window opens, but where will the Dutch midfielder go next?

Van de Beek, 23, is one of the youngsters who stuck around from Ajax’s sensational 2018-19 season as Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong sold last summer, Hakim Ziyech sold to Chelsea for this summer and Andre Onana likely on his way out.

The Dutch international has often been linked with a move to the Premier League and he’s a pure number eight who is calm and collected on the ball and is capable of dictating the tempo of games and finishing off chances.

Ajax’s chief executive Edwin van der Saar confirmed that Van de Beek is free to leave this summer, at the right price.

“Last year, we made verbal agreements with [Andre] Onana, [Nicolas] Tagliafico and Van de Beek to stay another season, and then we look to help each other and find the next step in their careers. Nothing has changed,” Van der Sar said. “There won’t be a 50 per cent discount. The clubs can forget about that.”

Where next? Tottenham, Man United, Barcelona and Real Madrid are all reported to be interested in the silky midfielder and Spurs would seem like a good fit, if they can afford him.

Spurs know all about Van de Beek as he was sublime in their two UEFA Champions League semifinals last season and scored a beauty at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to win the first leg 1-0. Is he able to withstand the physicality of the Premier League? That would be the one negative surrounding him but aside from that, he’s a top quality player. Last season he scored 17 goals in all competitions and this season he has 14 to his name and seven assists with Ajax’s campaign over after the Dutch Eredivisie was canceled and the famed club knocked out of the Europa League.

Van de Beek will not be sold on the cheap and Ajax are adamant that despite financial restrictions for clubs across Europe during the coronavirus pandemic, they will not sell their young stars for cut price deals. Ajax will sell on another batch of young stars this summer and likely have plenty more in reserve in their famed academy.

Netherlands coach Koeman undergoes heart procedure

Ronald Koeman
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman underwent a heart procedure Sunday at a hospital in Amsterdam after feeling pain in his chest, his management company said in a statement.

The 57-year-old coach, who has also managed Premier League clubs Southampton and Everton, underwent a successful “heart catheterization” and will return home Monday, his management company Wasserman said. It did not elaborate on the nature of the procedure and nor did the Dutch soccer association.

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Dutch national broadcaster NOS cited Koeman’s business manager, Rob Jansen, as saying that the former Barcelona player was hospitalized after feeling chest pain after a bike ride.

“We are shocked and wish him a good recovery,” the Dutch national team’s spokesman Bas Ticheler told The Associated Press.

Koeman’s management said the coach would be resting in coming days.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, it in unclear when the Dutch team will play again. The European Championship that was due to start June 12 has been postponed due to the global pandemic.

Anger swells at Dutch decision to end Eredivisie season

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AMSTERDAM — Dutch top-flight club FC Utrecht is preparing for legal action to fight the Royal Netherlands Football Association decision to cancel the remainder of the league season and allocate places in next season’s European competitions based on the standings when play was halted by the coronavirus crisis.

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Utrecht likely will not be alone in challenging the decision that also said there would be no relegation and promotion between the country’s two top leagues.

The Netherlands was the first top-tier European league to cancel the remainder of the season. Neighboring Belgium could also end its season at a meeting Monday.

Cambuur Leeuwarden, leader of the second-tier Keuken Kampioen division, is furious that it was denied promotion.

“I can’t understand it,” said the club’s director, Ard de Graaf. “It feels very unjust.” He said the club was considering its position.

Utrecht owner Frans van Seumeren told local broadcaster RTV Utrecht on Friday night that his club will “use all the lawyers we can” in a bid to overturn the decision from the Dutch FA.

When the season was canceled, Utrecht was sixth in the Eredivisie, three points behind fifth-place Willem II, which occupied the last Europa League spot. However, Utrecht played one game less and had a superior goal difference. It also had reached the final of the KNVB cup competition.

AZ Alkmaar, which ends the season level on points with Ajax but second due to an inferior goal difference, also is unhappy about the decision which would see Ajax enter the Champions League at a later stage than AZ.

UEFA said on Thursday it would support a “different format” being used to decide leagues, potentially opening the door to systems like playoffs. It also said it wanted Champions League and Europa League spots allocated on “sporting merit.”

The KNVB also said that Ajax, while it officially finishes in top position, will not be crowned champion.

That was tough to take for playmaker Hakim Ziyech, who is joining Chelsea next season.

“I think everybody around Amsterdam had hoped for another ending,” he said in an interview on the club’s website. “But sadly, that’s not the case.”

Netherlands won’t have soccer until at least September

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Professional sports and all major events have been banned in the Netherlands through Sept. 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That sound you hear is the bell tolling for the Eredivisie season, though UEFA still has to formalize the move. Dutch clubs are not alive in the Champions League or Europa League, and the nation’s federation says the ruling goes against closed door games, too.

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Ajax and AZ Alkmaar will finish the season with 56 points and Champions League places, while Feyenoord goes to the Europa League. Utrecht and Feyenoord will decide the KNVB Cup at a later date.

The UCL and UEL are going to be messy next year for leagues like the Eredivisie, which have qualifying playoffs.

There are a number of American prospects on top Dutch teams, headlined by USMNT right back Sergino Dest at Ajax (though he’s a man in demand). This list also includes Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven), Haji Wright (VVV Venlo), and Desevio Payne (Emmen).

Netherlands forward Rob Rensenbrink dies at age 72

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Rob Rensenbrink, the forward who was centimeters away from delivering the Netherlands a World Cup title in 1978, has died at age 72, the Dutch football association said Saturday.

“We have heard with sadness of the death of football legend Rob Rensenbrink,” the association said in a tweet.

Rensenbrink played most of his club football in Belgium with Club Brugge and Anderlecht, where his weaving runs earned him the nickname “Snake Man.” He also played briefly for the Portland Timbers in the United States in 1980.

He was a regular for the Netherlands national team in its period of dominance in the 1970s.

He played 46 times and scored 14 goals for the Dutch team known for its slick, position-swapping “total football.”

But he will always be best remembered for the goal he didn’t quite score in the 1978 World Cup final.

With the scores tied at 1-1 between the Netherlands and host Argentina and the seconds ticking away in injury time of the final in Buenos Aires, Rensenbrink’s shot hit the post. The match went to extra time and Argentina scored twice to win 3-1.

It was the second straight World Cup final defeat for the Netherlands, which has appeared in three finals and lost them all.

Rensenbrink was diagnosed with a muscle disease in 2012 and died as a result of the illness, according to Dutch national broadcaster NOS.

Anderlecht said he died Friday night.

“Thanks for everything Robbie!” the Belgian club wrote on its website. “We will never forget you.”