Justin Kluivert could be set for a move away from Ajax during the summer transfer window after confirming he has rejected a new contract offer and heavily criticising the club.
The 19-year-old’s performances for the Amsterdam side have attracted interest from across Europe, but he had maintained his desire to stay in the Dutch capital throughout the season.
However, negotiations hit a snag in recent weeks, leading to Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar to suggest on television that Kluivert’s agent, Mino Raiola, was trying to persuade him to leave.
The tension has risen since then as the player has become the target of criticism from fans and accusations of greed. But it is Ajax who are looking after their own financial interests, Kluivert insists, by giving him an ultimatum that he would either sign a new deal or be sold before his current one expires in 2019.
“Ajax wants me to extend my contract so that they can ask for more [when they sell],” he told Volkskrant. “What do they really want? My plan was to stay, but a lot has happened lately. The fans think that it’s only about money, while everyone knows I had it good. I was not waiting for money at all. Football is important. I want to develop myself.
“I was more or less told that I had to sign up. Otherwise I had to leave. Then you start thinking. I spoke briefly with [technical director] Marc Overmars. I feel pressured. The most important thing for Ajax is that I extend my contract. Then it’s not about football, but about money.”
Kluivert is not the only player who has voiced his frustration with the Ajax hierarchy. Goalkeeper Andre Onana called out Van der Sar and Overmars, blaming them for the team’s poor performances and collapse in the Eredivisie title race, while star defender Matthijs de Ligt reportedly wants to leave. Erik ten Hag’s team are also expected to lose the league’s most creative player in Hakim Ziyech this summer.
The uncertainty over the squad has played a role in Kluivert’s decision, as he feels they may be in for a tough future just a year after they reached the Europa League final.
“I want to be the best in the world,” he said. “Look what’s happening around me, with other players who want to leave or are leaving. It will soon be difficult to get through the preliminary round of the Champions League, and competitions at the highest level are important.
“Ajax change coach too easily. They don’t really get a chance. You can notice that our coach [Ten Hag] is not really comfortable. You also saw that with Marcel Keizer before him. That’s what the boys feel. You can see how coaches behave, how they express themselves, even in the press. It feels unstable. We are not really a team. There are different opinions. About everything. One time you play one way, then another coach comes and you play another way. That’s difficult. We never really knew what we wanted this season.”