Edwin van der Sar on Taking Manchester United Role: 'You Never Know'

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2019

Ajax general director Edwin van der Sar during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and FC Emmen at the Johan Cruijff Arena on August 10, 2019 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Edwin van der Sar has left the door open for a potential move back to Manchester United, but he made it clear his role as Ajax CEO is his "principle" concern. 

According to John Richardson in the Mirror, Van der Sar is high on United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward's shortlist for a new director of football, who could help manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with the club's transfer strategy.

When asked about a potential return to Old Trafford, where he spent six successful seasons as a player between 2005 and 2011, Van der Sar said, per ESPN FC's Rob Dawson:

"You never know. At the moment Ajax is the principle thought where I'm putting all my time and effort in and whatever happens in the future, we will see. I'm the chief executive at Ajax, Marc Overmars does the director of football role, so in that way we have a focus in Amsterdam. We've known each other for a very long time, from our playing times and from 1993 in the national team, so in that way we're focusing quite well and we get on with the rest of the board.

"I think the idea is that you have an opportunity to grow yourself and to learn. That happened when I went abroad to Italy and then when I went to England with Fulham and even at United, and it's similar now. I stopped playing in 2011, did a masters degree in sports management and started as a marketing director in 2012, so you learn along the line. In that way I want to develop myself and that goes perfectly with Ajax at the moment."

The Dutchman has been Ajax CEO since 2016 and has played a key role in the famed Amsterdam club's return to prominence on the European stage.

They reached the UEFA Europa League final in 2017, which they lost 2-0 to United in Solna, Sweden, and they made a remarkable run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals last term, beating Real Madrid and Juventus on the way, and also won the Eredivisie:

Perhaps most notably, they have recently developed a host of talented youngsters, most prominently Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, who joined Barcelona and Juve, respectively, in the summer for a combined fee of over £133 million.

Other former United players have been linked to the new technical director role at Old Trafford, including Rio Ferdinand, per the Guardian's Jamie Jackson.

However, Van der Sar's qualifications and experience make him arguably the standout candidate to help the Red Devils reestablish themselves among Europe's elite.

The 20-time English champions have failed to make an effective transition after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.

Solskjaer, the club's fourth permanent manager since Ferguson, started his tenure as United boss brilliantly when he succeeded Jose Mourinho last December.

He oversaw a superb run of 14 wins in his first 17 games in charge. But since early March, the Red Devils have won just three of their last 13 Premier League games.

The Norwegian's signings in the summer were smart, and Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have all started the new campaign well individually:

But Solskjaer does not look capable of making United Premier League title challengers again on his own.

With Van der Sar at the club, though, it is possible the Red Devils could finally develop a long-term project that could see them flourish again.

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