Erik ten Hag’s former Ajax colleague believes Arthur Vermeeren has qualities in common with Xavi and Andres Iniesta as Premier League giants Manchester United eye the Royal Antwerp wonderkid.

It is no coincidence that, since both Erik Ten Hag and Overmars departed Ajax, things have gone downhill fast at the Johan Cryuff Arena. A ‘catastrophe’; that is how the legendary Marco van Basten describes Ajax’s worst start to an Eredivisie season since 1965.

Together, Ten Hag and Overmars constructed one of the greatest Dutch sides this side of the century, the former’s coaching and the latter’s eye for a bargain helping develop the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Mohammed Kudus, Lisandro Martinez, Andre Onana and Antony, amongst others.

And Ten Hag’s close relationship with the now-Royal Antwerp director can surely only benefit Manchester United’s hopes of fighting off competition from Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund for 18-year-old Arthur Vermeeren, Sport claiming that the Red Devils are currently the club showing the greatest interest.

Heracles Almelo v Ajax - Dutch Eredivisie
Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Manchester United eyeing Arthur Vermeeren

“I have no doubt that he has a fantastic level,” Overmars tells Cadena Ser ahead of Antwerp’s Champions League trip to the Dutchman’s old employers Barcelona.

“The first time I saw him he reminded me of Xavi and Iniesta. A footballer of the same profile.”

This is not the only occasion the £20 million-rated Vermeeren – a key presence in Royal Antwerp’s first Jupiler League title win since 1957 – has been mentioned alongside two of the 21st century’s most iconic playmakers. Vermeeren himself admits there are shades of Iniesta in his game; all snake-hipped swivels and line-breaking passes.

Tonight’s clash between the champions of Spain and the champions of Belgium at the Camp Nou, meanwhile, offers Vermeeren the opportunity to prove he belongs at the very highest level European football has to offer.

The Belgian Andres Iniesta?

“The interest (in him) is immense. Fortunately, he has a good head on his shoulders. He has down-to-earth parents and a good entourage,” Royal Antwerp CEO Sven Jaecques told Het Laatste Nieuws recently.

“Arthur thinks very carefully about what is best for his career. What makes Arthur so special is his ability to learn. The boy is a ‘sponge’

“If he can back-up his phenomenal first season, it will be impossible to keep him. And it is also necessary for him to take the next step.”

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