Marc Overmars: Could Ajax director of football be the answer for Arsenal or Man Utd?

Paul Macdonald
Paul Macdonald Updated: 20 May 2021 11:26 BST 4 min read
Marc Overmars: Could Ajax director of football be the answer for Arsenal or Man Utd?

With Arsenal and Manchester United enduring frustration at different points of 2020, could Marc Overmars be part of the solution to their problems?

Former Arsenal winger Overmars, 47, has been director of football at Ajax since 2012.

After a long tenure, reports have suggested he will leave Ajax at the end of this season as he believes his cycle has come to an end.

Recently he was once again linked with a return to his former club as technical director, though the position is presently filled by another former Arsenal player, Edu.

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  • There is also a path where he could return to Arsenal alongside Edu.

    The club’s director of football operations role has been vacant since the departure of Huss Fahmy in October.

    In the past, Overmars has suggested he was open to coming back to the Gunners.

    Meanwhile, United are said to have named him on a five-man shortlist as part of their ongoing pursuit of their first-ever director of football.

    The Sun report Overmars, Luis Campos and Paul Mitchell are the leading names in the running for the Old Trafford job.

    What has gone wrong for Arsenal and Man Utd?

    Arsenal have had a miserable start to 2020-21 and sit 15th in the Premier League, with the pressure piling on manager Mikel Arteta.

    Arteta has said he understands why his position is under scrutiny after the club’s worst start to a season since 1974.

    The Gunners’ recent record in the transfer market has led to frustration for fans, not helping Arteta or his predecessor Unai Emery.

    Forward Nicolas Pepe has been a huge let-down since signing from Lille for a club-record £72 million fee in 2019.

    The signings of veterans David Luiz and Willian on big contracts have also led to criticism, while the puzzling case of William Saliba has been another distraction amid their on-field struggles.

    For United, the Jadon Sancho transfer saga this year – which resulted in the England winger staying at Borussia Dortmund – saw their supporters frustrated throughout a summer window again.

    With no back-up plan seemingly in place, United were unable to bring in the winger they needed after their pursuit of Sancho failed.

    Fans instead had to settle for the arrival of veteran striker Edinson Cavani on a free transfer.

    Donny van de Beek has been unable to force his way into the team after signing from Overmars’ Ajax, while Harry Maguire has endured a mixed start to his career in defence after a huge £80m move.

    While Bruno Fernandes has been a huge success, chief executive Ed Woodward has come under significant pressure to hire a specialist in the transfer market.

    How has Overmars done at Ajax?

    After initially working with Go Ahead Eagles following his playing retirement, Overmars career as a director reached the next level with Ajax.

    He won praise for developing a team that reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 despite operating on a budget far smaller than Europe’s heavyweights.

    Matthijis de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Hakim Ziyech and Van de Beek are among the players he has helped to develop and sell on over recent years.

    Former Sao Paulo winger Antony is already developing an impressive reputation after replacing Chelsea star Ziyech for Ajax this year.

    Overmars has also done a good job mixing youth with experience, bringing in the likes of Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind from the Premier League.

    In his seven seasons, Ajax have been incredibly consistent.

    Over that period, Ajax have won the Eredivisie three times and finished second on the other four occasions.

    They are top of the table again this year as they defend their title.

    Whether he ends up with Arsenal, United or another team, Overmars looks sure to be in demand.

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