The coverage of the upcoming Champions League semifinal between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax is going to have a pretty heavy Ajax slant to it. That’s not only because Ajax is almost certainly the media darling of the four teams that are left in the competition, but also because Spurs have a history with Ajax themselves.
Most notably, it’s because four of their first team players came out of Ajax. Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Davinson Sanchez all played in Amsterdam earlier in their careers, as did Christian Eriksen. That’s three of Spurs’ four central defenders and arguably their best attacking midfielder. Spurs have not been afraid to go to the Ajax well when they need a good player; most recently they attempted to purchase both Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs De Ligt, and there are rumors that Spurs are keeping close tabs on midfielder Donny van de Beek as well.
Former Ajax manager Frank De Boer managed three of Spurs’ Ajax players while he was in Amsterdam — Eriksen, Alderweireld, and Vertonghen. Now the manager for Atlanta United, De Boer was asked after a recent Atlanta training about his connection to the players in the upcoming Champions League semifinal.
“It’s fantastic. Both have history with the clubs. I have history with players playing in the first team of Ajax and in the first team of Tottenham Hotspur, you have three guys — Eriksen, Alderweireld and Vertonghen. I had a great experience with them when I was the head coach. It’s fantastic to see that they are developing that good. You know, the youngsters of Ajax but also [those three Tottenham players] who of course they are experienced now. I think its wonderful. I think it’s good for the brand of Ajax.
It’s also good for the brand of Tottenham Hotspur, but you can forgive De Boer for not mentioning that part. There’s also a further connection to this semifinal: Atlanta United president Darren Eales served as Executive Director for Tottenham before leaving to head up the then-expansion Five Stripes.
“I think City is the better team. Now with [Harry] Kane out, Son [Heung-Min] suspended and [Mousa] Sissoko possibly out, it’s a good advantage. I think they will make more chances against Spurs than City.”