Champions League

Ajax step up move for Graham Potter in bid to ward off Manchester United

Ajax step up move for Graham Potter in bid to ward off Manchester United

Potter is the kind of tactician who would appreciate Ajax’s history – Reuters/PETER CZIBORRA

Ajax are attempting to steal a march on some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Manchester United, by pursuing their interest in Graham Potter.

Potter has been out of work for more than a year after being sacked by Chelsea and is on the radar of clubs in the Premier League and in Europe, as well as being on a list of possible successors to England manager Gareth Southgate.

United would be expected to place Potter high on a shortlist of candidates to replace Erik ten Hag if they sack the Dutchman after the FA Cup final, while AC Milan, Porto and Feyenoord are among the European clubs to have shown an interest.

But such high-profile competition has not put off Ajax, who are considering altering their approach to make Potter an attractive offer.

Potter was one of the Premier League’s highest earners during his brief spell at Chelsea and Ajax are aware they would have to make the 48-year-old the best-paid coach in the club’s history to stand a chance of appointing him even if he agreed to take a wage cut.

Ajax have cut their budget in recent years, but see Potter as the perfect man to rebuild the club without the need for big-money signings and to instil a new playing style and philosophy that would be in-keeping with the club’s ‘total football’ traditions.

Potter has already worked abroad during his coaching career, at Swedish club Ostersunds, where he initially made a name for himself.

It is thought that a move for Potter has the backing of prominent members of the Ajax squad, including former Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, although the Dutch club’s move for a new manager has been complicated by internal politics.

Alex Kroes was last month suspended from his job as chief executive over claims of insider trading, but returned to Ajax only three weeks later in a new role of technical director. Christopher Vivell, who briefly worked with Potter as technical director at Chelsea, had been linked with a move to Ajax.

Should Ajax’s potential move for Potter run into trouble, the door could still open for some of the other interested parties, including Feyenoord, who have placed him high on their list of candidates to replace Arne Slot, who is joining Liverpool, and AC Milan.

Milan’s admiration of Potter dates back to Chelsea’s performances against the Italians in last season’s Champions League, while Porto are understood to appreciate his work.

Potter’s time at Chelsea is now viewed far more positively outside the club than in the immediate aftermath of his departure from Stamford Bridge, given the difficulties his successor Mauricio Pochettino has also faced.

The former Brighton manager was in charge of a Champions League last-16 victory over this season’s finalists Borussia Dortmund and was sacked before the club played Real Madrid in the quarter-finals. Chelsea were unbeaten in the group stages under him, which included two comfortable successes over Milan.

Were he still to be out of work at the end of the European Championships, then Potter could come into the Football’s Association’s thinking to succeed Southgate if they are forced to make a change.

Southgate is expected to leave his post if England do not win the Euros and, like Potter, is thought to be a potential candidate for the Manchester United job.

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