Telling a tale which will not lead to any revisionism over Ed Woodward’s time in charge at Manchester United,
A man who spent eight years at Old Trafford between 2014 and 2022 has opened up on a plan which could have seen two of Europe’s rising stars end up in England.
Marcel Bout, speaking to Algemeen Dagblad, wanted United to strike up a partnership with Dutch giants Ajax,
legendary Red Devils ‘keeper and Johan Cruyff Arena CEO Edwin van der Sar potentially acting as a ‘bridge’ between two European powerhouses.
Unfortunately for Bout – and United for that matter – you could probably fit Woodward’s footballing expertise onto a post-it note.
Man united could have signed De Ligt and De Jong
“I said to Ed Woodward; ‘Edwin van der Sar played here. Now, create a bridge to Ajax through him’,” Bout recalls. “17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt played at Ajax in training. Later, Frenkie de Jong came to Ajax.
“’Make sure that, at United, you make a deal early on for these kinds of talents,
And then you can always let them mature for a while in the Netherlands,’ I said.”
De Ligt and De Jong, a few years later, would become the spine of the Ajax team which stormed to the Champions League semi-finals under Erik ten Hag.
De Ligt would go on to join Juventus for £68 million, only a few months after De Jong agreed a £65 million move to Barcelona.
Louis van Gaal, the man who brought Bout to Old Trafford nearly a decade ago,
famously told FourFourTwo a couple of years ago
That he tried and ultimately failed to bring in such luminaries Gonzalo Higuain,
Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane and even Neymar.