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'Lampard-like' Van de Beek more suited to Chelsea than Real Madrid or Barcelona - Gronkjaer

09:00 BST 12/05/2020
Donny van de Beek Ajax 2019-20
The Netherlands midfielder continues to be linked with a move to La Liga's big two, but a former Ajax star feels he is not quite at that level yet

Former Ajax winger Jesper Gronkjaer has advised Donny van de Beek to snub the advances of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and instead join a Premier League club such as Chelsea or Tottenham. 

Van de Beek has been widely tipped to leave the Amsterdam ArenA this summer, with Madrid having been heavily linked with the Netherlands international during the past 12 months following his starring role in Ajax's run to the 2019 Champions League semi-finals. 

However, Gronkjaer believes that the 23-year-old would be better suited to English football due to his Frank Lampard-like attributes as a midfielder. 

"I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at Real Madrid or Barcelona but I would rather see him at a club just below that," the Dane told Goal. "For his style of play alone, clubs like Tottenham or Chelsea would be a better fit. 

"They are still top clubs and he is more like Frank Lampard, that kind of player. He is a big guy, box-to-box and takes good long shots, but he is not as technically gifted as other players that have come from Ajax. He is a player you can always get a certain level from."

Ajax have already agreed to sell one of their star names this summer, with winger Hakim Ziyech agreeing a €40 million (£33m/$43m) move to Chelsea back in February and they now face losing Andre Onana, Nicolas Tagliafico and Van de Beek as well. 

Club CEO Edwin van der Sar has confirmed that there is an agreement in place with players that would allow them to leave if their asking price is met.

Gronkjaer, though, believes that Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt's relative struggles since leaving Ajax for Barcelona and Juventus, respectively, show that the likes of Van de Beek should be careful when selecting their next move.

"De Jong and De Ligt have yet to show their full potential," the 42-year-old argued. "They did well at Ajax and moved to Barcelona and Juventus but have struggled. It is another level but I think that in years to come they will be some of the best players in Europe.

"Ziyech was the one who has caught my eye over the past two seasons, even though he wasn’t produced by Ajax. He is a player I really love and would pay to see. And now he is going to Chelsea.

"These guys had that Champions League run and it saw their prices increase by 300 per cent. We have to realise that Dutch football is above many leagues like Denmark but they still will always sell their best players to England and Spain. The money is greater in those other countries."

Ajax ended the Dutch season at the top of the table but they weren't awarded the title due to the fixture list not being completed. 

The club insist that they remain on a strong financial footing heading into the summer transfer window despite the Eredivisie season being curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Gronkjaer believes that the likely summer exodus will significantly affect Ajax's hopes of remaining a force in Europe, but he is confident that the club's academy will remain one of the most popular and successful destinations for young talent across the world.

"What happened at Ajax in the last two years has been the product of a special generation of players like Van de Beek, De Ligt and De Jong, coupled with good signings like Daley Blind, Quincy Promes and Dusan Tadic," he explained.

"Lots of good things came together for them, which isn’t normal. Ajax won't be able to do this every season and there will be ups and downs to come. We can't get used to Ajax being in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

"It was great to see that run as a revival of Dutch football and they played in such a beautiful style. If you look at the starting XI, these are many players that wouldn't have been well-known from outside of Holland. 

"This success was built by good guys in the background like Marc Overmars and Edwin van der Sar. Ajax have a good stadium and a fantastic academy.

"With players possibly leaving, it is a club that any young player should go to if they get an opportunity."