Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar has admitted that the club were keen to keep hold of Erik ten Hag, following the announcement that the manager is set to take over at Manchester United at the end of the season.
Man Utd confirmed that Ten Hag has signed a contract running until June 2025 at Old Trafford - with an option for a further year - on Thursday, bringing months of speculation over who will be the next manager to an end.
Speaking to Ajax's official website, Van der Sar was keen to thank Ten Hag for his contributions in Amsterdam, and also stated that the club wanted to keep him 'for longer'.
"Four and a half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer," he said. "He is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world, in a fantastic league.
"We owe Erik a lot of thanks for what he has achieved with Ajax so far, but we are not done yet. At the end of the season, I will look back more extensively on his departure. For now, what matters is the final games of the season in which we all want to bring home the league title."
Ten Hag has enjoyed a fantastic tenure at Ajax, winning two Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and even taking De Godenzonen to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019. This season, the club look set to win a third title under Ten Hag, currently holding a four-point lead over PSV Eindhoven at the top of the league table.
Speaking after the announcement, Ten Hag stated that is will be 'difficult to leave Ajax' following such a successful time at the club.
“It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead," he said. "I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans, and I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering the success they deserve.
“It will be difficult to leave Ajax after these incredible years, and I can assure our fans of my complete commitment and focus on bringing this season to a successful conclusion before I move to Manchester United.”