By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor
When the winter transfer window opened on January 1, there seemed to be little doubt that Mounir El Hamdaoui would no longer be under contract with Ajax by the end of the month. The former Tottenham Hotspur attacker has not made a single appearance for the Eredivisie champions in the 2011-12 campaign, and both club and player were desperate to bid farewell to one other.
Yet there was remarkably little movement around the Morocco international early on, and only in the closing stages of the transfer window did a move away from Amsterdam become a realistic option for the attacker. Fiorentina made an approach for the former AZ star, and El Hamdaoui immediately made it clear that he would be open to a switch to the Viola.
After several days of intensive talks, the striker travelled to Italy to undergo a medical, and a transfer appeared to be a dead certainty. Yet, negotiations between the three parties involved in the deal proved to be arduous, and there was still no agreement when El Hamdaoui again boarded a plane to Tuscany on deadline day.
Indeed, the forward's trip turned out to be fruitless, as the deal eventually fell through following Ajax's request for a bank guarantee at a time when Fiorentina could impossibly obtain one before the window slammed shut, thus adding yet another painful episode to El Hamdaoui's troublesome spell with the Godenzonen.
EL HAMDAOUI | LEAGUE STATS AT AZ & AJAX
It all started for the 27-year-old attacker in the summer of 2010, when El Hamdaoui joined Ajax from AZ after three successful seasons in Alkmaar. The forward did not waste any time making an impact at his new club as he netted a brace on his debut against Groningen, before helping the Godenzonen to the group stages of the Champions League with a goal in the preliminaries against Dynamo Kiev.
But, things went wrong for the gifted attacker when then head coach Martin Jol threw in the towel in December 2010. The current Fulham boss was replaced by Frank de Boer, and one of the latter's first actions was benching El Hamdaoui for the Champions League match away against AC Milan, much to the dismay of the striker.
El Hamdaoui called in sick upon the team's return to Amsterdam, having no intention of returning to the training pitch following De Boer's decision to drop him. Accusations went back and forth for a number of weeks, and a winter exit appeared to be inevitable at the time. But, the attacker surprisingly resumed training during the winter break, and made his comeback in the league win over NAC.
|HIGHEST PAID DUTCH EREDIVISIE PLAYERS IN 2011*|
|El Hamdaoui - Ajax
|Engelaar - PSV
|Van der Wiel - Ajax
|Lens - PSV
|Janssen - Ajax||€1.15m|
KNVB Beker win over RKC.
De Boer showed mercy one month later as the flamboyant attacker was once more reinstated to the first-team, only to finally lose his patience with El Hamdaoui at the end of April after the third bust-up in less than six months.
The Morocco international was again sent to the reserves and, much like the situation between Roberto Mancini and Carlos Tevez at Manchester City, this time there would not be a way back for the gifted forward.
El Hamdaoui, not only the best paid player at Ajax with an annual income of €2.1 million, but also the Eredivisie's top earner, refused to let the situation get to him, and joined Jong Ajax without any further complaints.
In the 2011 summer transfer window, Ajax were desperate to offload El Hamdaoui in order to get his hefty wages of their books, and there was plenty of interest in the troubled attacker. Lille, Saint-Etienne, Trabzonspor, Sevilla, Espanyol, PSV, Blackburn Rovers and Udinese were all believed to be keen on the striker, however, he was in no rush to move on and opted to stay at the Amsterdam ArenA when none of the interested clubs were willing to match his wage demands.
Nevertheless, unlike former Netherlands international Winston Bogarde, who infamously was happy to sit out his mammoth contract at Chelsea without any prospect of first team football, El Hamdaoui has now grown tired of his situation as he approaches almost a year of inactivity.
The 27-year-old had his heart set on a move to Fiorentina, and has reacted furiously to Ajax's behaviour in the proposed transfer. El Hamdaoui has even gone as far as threatening legal action against the Amsterdam giants for damaging his career.
Lawyers have stressed that he has little chance of success, though, as it seems the unhappy marriage between Ajax and El Hamdaoui will not come to an end any time soon.
Although the transfer market is still open in Russia, the striker has made it clear that he has no intention of moving to the Russian league. Consequently, Ajax and El Hamdaoui will have to put up with one other until the summer window opens again in the big leagues on July 1, and who would bet on more drama arising before the season's end?
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