Why Ajax sold Liverpool target Sven Botman to Lille for a nominal fee

Martin Macdonald
Martin Macdonald Updated: 19 May 2021 16:43 CEST 3 min read
Why Ajax sold Liverpool target Sven Botman to Lille for a nominal fee

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag has revealed why the club opted to sell wonderkid Sven Botman to Lille in the summer, saying he was simply down the pecking order in Amsterdam.

With star central defender Gabriel signing for Arsenal ahead of the new season, Lille identified Botman as his replacement and subsequently paid Ajax £8 million (€9.2m) to bring him to Ligue 1.

It was seen as a coup of sorts at the time as Botman had previously been linked with both Liverpool and Tottenham.

He has gone on to excel in France, helping Lille emerge as genuine title contenders up against PSG, whom they lead by one point in the table.

So, why did Ajax let him go for such a nominal fee?

“No, actually not. We already saw the potential at Ajax before we loaned him to Heerenveen (in the 2019/20 season),” Ten Hag responded to Voetbal International when asked if he was surprised at how well Botman was doing.

“’We had two very good central defenders at Ajax, he was just behind them. Then you have to make choices and he has taken a good step. It’s nice to see how he holds his own, but that also says something about our central defenders.”

Botman’s own comments about his transfer echo that of his former head coach, as he says it was important for him to get some first team football at this stage of his career.

Snapshot

STATISTICSVEN BOTMAN
AGE21
CLUBLille
INTERNATIONAL TEAMNetherlands
POSITIONCentre-back
STYLEBall playing defender
CONTRACT EXPIRES2025
LILLE APPS30
LILLE GOALS-

“I could have stayed at Ajax, but there I was second or third choice as central defender,” Botman admitted to VI

“That’s no shame at my age, but I saw more chances at Lille. And that decision has worked out very well.

“It is going well, I have a lot of confidence and I notice that I am constantly growing. Here you play against top strikers every week, you cannot switch off for a moment. I feel more and more complete.”

In the January transfer window, Botman was linked with a move away from Lille after just six months at the club, as Liverpool were desperate to sign a centre-back to ease their defensive woes, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joel Matip unlikely to be available for the rest of the campaign.

Eventually, they signed Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke with the option to buy, and Preston defender Ben Davies.