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 By Elko Born

What's next for Frank de Boer? Everton? Valencia? Or elsewhere?

After weeks of speculation, it's now official: Frank de Boer has left his position as Ajax manager.

The announcement comes just days after Ajax wasted the chance to win the Eredivisie title on the final day of the season as a 1-1 draw with De Graafschap saw rivals PSV Eindhoven claim the prize.

The Amsterdam club, who won four titles in five-and-a-half years under De Boer, have not yet decided who will replaced De Boer. Former Vitesse manager Peter Bosz is seen as the prime candidate, but Clarence Seedorf, John van den Brom and Jaap Stam (now a youth coach at Ajax) have been mentioned as well.

De Boer asked the Ajax board to terminate his contract by mutual consent before he even found a new job, so his own future is unclear too. Keeping his options open, the manager has even indicated he could take a year's break from football management -- although he might not have to.

During his time at Ajax, De Boer was linked with clubs from all over Europe, including Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. It doesn't seem likely interest in him will disappear now he's available.

And rightly so. After playing for top clubs around Europe, including Ajax, Barcelona and Rangers, De Boer has been praised extensively for his work at as manager of Ajax under-19s, as first-team boss, and for his stint as Bert van Marwijk's assistant with Netherlands during the World Cup in 2010. But where could he end up next?


After a dissatisfying season culminating in a disastrous string of matches, Everton manager Roberto Martinez was sacked and De Boer is the man touted by many as most likely to replace him.

In many ways, the move would make sense. Much like Martinez, De Boer espouses a playing style based on possession. Consequently, the Dutchman's appointment would not cause a paradigm shift, but rather a slight reconfiguration.

While hugely successful in the Netherlands, De Boer's possession-based football at Ajax has been criticised as well as praised. According to some, it's boring; according to others, it's inventive.

A few years ago, the Ajax board implemented a strategy based on youth. The club has refrained from spending big on foreign players since. As a consequence, the group that De Boer got to work with was inexperienced at best and lacking in quality at worst. Against De Graafschap last week, the average age of the Ajax XI was 23. To get such a young team to outperform rivals PSV four years in a row is impressive to say the least.

De Boer would certainly relish the opportunity to manage Everton. In the past few years, he has made no secret of the fact that the Premier League was his preferred destination. Only a few days ago, De Boer's agent Guido Albers told Dutch broadcasting company NOS that his client "would love to join a club like Everton or Valencia."

Should Everton approach De Boer, it's likely the Dutch manager would accept.


If his agent's comments are to be believed, a move to Valencia is just as likely a destination for De Boer as Everton.

As a player, De Boer spent four years at FC Barcelona. The hard working Dutchman greatly enjoyed his time there, regularly commenting on the joys of living in Spain and enjoying the culture.

Before accepting, however, De Boer would be wise to give his friend Ronald Koeman a call. Back in 2007, during his first year as manager, it was Koeman who experienced the potentially difficulties of managing Valencia first hand. His reign didn't even last a year.

Like Koeman at Valencia, De Boer has not shown himself to be very good at handling disunity. Players who dared to criticise De Boer and his methods at Ajax, like Mounir El Hamdaoui and Ricardo Kishna, were either banned to the reserves or sold, no matter how popular they were with fans.

Clearly, De Boer is very strict. Always demanding perfect tactical discipline and effort, he was regularly seen shouting furiously at his players, even when Ajax were comfortably in the lead.

Yes, 2007 is a long time ago, and De Boer is not Koeman. Yet the next Valencia manager won't get an easy ride after the issues with Gary Neville.

Taking on one of the most difficult jobs in Spanish top football could prove a risk, but De Boer sees himself as a born winner and is not usually a man to back away from a challenge.

Frank de Boer has moved on from Ajax.


Although sections of Arsenal's fans might wish otherwise, it looks like Arsene Wenger will stay where he is for next season at the least. Should the North London club find themselves looking for a new manager next summer, however, De Boer would undoubtedly be considered.

Some critics might argue the contrary, but De Boer has often describes his preferred playing style as "dominant" and "attacking." Indeed, the Dutchman's insistence on fluidity, as well as his use of mobile midfielders and pacey flank players at Ajax seem to fit Arsenal's current squad and playing style.

Then there's the Bergkamp factor. Since 2011, the Arsenal legend has been De Boer's trusted assistant manager and the former Netherlands teammates clearly share a mutual understanding about football.

Bergkamp has indicated he doesn't see himself as a manager any time in the near future, so it seems unlikely the Arsenal legend will ever return to North London to replace Wenger. But a De Boer/Bergkamp package deal, however? Why not?


The Premier League and La Liga are likely destinations for De Boer but the Bundesliga should not be disregarded either. Despite Bayern Munich's iron rule, the German league is widely respected by Dutch players and managers.

Hamburg have made it part of their strategy to play into this sentiment. In recent years, the North German club employed Dutch managers like Huub Stevens, Martin Jol, Ricardo Moni and Bert van Marwijk. Even back in 2005, fan favourite Rafael van der Vaart saw HSV as a clear step up from his boyhood club Ajax. With the Eredivisie falling further under the radar, financially as well in prestige, the lure of the Bundesliga has only increased in the Netherlands.

Bruno Labbadia has only been in charge for a year, but a season in which the club finished 12th wasn't anything to write home about. If they are looking for an upgrade, a speculative phone call to De Boer's people would be worth the effort at the very least.

Elko Born is a freelance journalist and football writer from Amsterdam. You can follow him on Twitter at @Elko_B.


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