Edwin van der Sar was surprised to see Cristiano Ronaldo leave Juventus in the summer, but admitted it was “nice” to see his former teammate back at Old Trafford donning the Red Devils shirt once again.
But with the transfer window drawing to a close, our former Champions League stopper didn’t think the five-time Ballon D’Or winner would call it quits on his time in Italy.
Speaking to Tuttosport, van der Sar said: “I didn’t expect his farewell to Juventus, it amazed me. But it’s always nice to see Cristiano at Old Trafford with the Red Devils shirt.”
The Dutchman has also spoke in glowing terms about a player Ronaldo played with at Juventus and who we missed out on signing – Matthijs de Ligt.
Van der Sar, the chief executive at Ajax, compared his compatriot’s mentality and desire to improve and be the best like our number seven.
Speaking on de Ligt, the 50-year-old said: “He is a top player and has a great mentality: he works hard to improve himself.
“I haven’t seen him in training for two and a half years, but I assure you that at the time when he played with us as a spirit he always reminded me of the young Cristiano Ronaldo that I had as a teammate at Manchester United.
“De Ligt, even early in the morning, when he was not on the pitch you could find him in the gym.”
van der Sar on Bellingham and Gravenberch
Van der Sar will have a vote for the Golden Player (aged over 21) but not for the Golden Player award (aged under 21) who as usual will be elected by a jury composed of 40 journalists from the most prestigious European newspapers.
The former United goalkeeper spoke in glowing terms about his young compatriot Ryan Gravenberch, who at 19-years-old has been dubbed the new Paul Pogba.
Although he saw similarities, van der Sar didn’t want to pile the burden of being compared to United’s assist king on the young Ajax midfielder’s shoulders.
Van der Sar continued: “Gravenberch is a midfielder, he is strong, physical, technical and tall: let’s say there is some similarity, but we don’t put too much pressure on Ryan.”
Similar to United, one player who van der Sar was keen to bring to Amsterdam was Jude Bellingham.
The former Birmingham man instead opted to join Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland at Dortmund and establish himself as one of the hottest talents in world football.
“I’ve always liked Bellingham,” van der Sar said.
“So much so that when he played for Birmingham we talked to his parents to take him to Ajax.
“In the end, the boy and his family at that time preferred to stay at home, in England, postponing the experience abroad to the following year, when he then chose to move to Germany to Borussia Dortmund.”
Similar to Sancho, Haaland is inevitably going to secure a big money move and Bellingham will also a command a huge fee when he decides to pursue another challenge.
In an ideal world and yes it is greedy, but it would amazing to have all three of Dortmund’s most recent stars playing alongside one and other once again but this time together at the Theatre of Dreams.
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