Ajax wins Dutch league title for 34th time

Ajax Amsterdam coach Erik ten Hag says he does not fear the break up of his young team in the wake of their Champions League success. — Reuters

AMSTERDAM — Ajax Amsterdam clinched the Dutch league title by finishing the season with a 4-1 win at De Graafschap on Wednesday.

They ended three points clear of PSV Eindhoven, who won 3-1 at home to Heracles Almelo on the last day of the campaign.

Ajax’s first title since 2014 and a record-extending 34th overall completed the double after they won the KNVB Cup earlier this month.

Ajax had been neck-and-neck with PSV over the last weeks, but made all but sure of the title on Sunday when they beat Utrecht while defending champions PSV lost.

That allowed Ajax to take a three-point advantage, plus a massive plus 14 goal difference, into Wednesday’s match.

Dusan Tadic scored twice against De Graafschap as Ajax said farewell to key midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who is joining Barcelona, and possibly several other players who are in demand following Ajax’s superb run to the Champions League semifinals.

Ajax ended with 86 points and 119 goals scored in 34 games. PSV collected 83 points to join them in next season's Champions League.

Feyenoord came third after winning 4-1 at Fortuna Sittard, the last game in charge for their coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

Ajax coach does not fear

break up of young team

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag says he does not fear the break up of his young team in the wake of their Champions League success, but admits his players are attracting a lot of interest from other clubs.

Ajax have already sold midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 22, to Barcelona in a deal worth 86 million euros ($96 million) with his 19-year-old teammate Matthijs de Ligt expected to follow him out of the club for another big fee.

Others like Hakim Ziyech, David Neres, Donny van de Beek and goalkeeper Andre Onana could move to some of Europe’s biggest clubs after the Dutch club's unexpected progress to the Champions League semifinals.

"To say I fear the transfer window is not the right word but our players are hot right now,” Ten Hag told reporters.

"We left a very positive impression and that is a compliment for Ajax. It will be a heated summer, that we have to expect.

"But the club’s leadership and I are of the same opinion that we must have the potential to try and achieve again what we did this season.”

An estimated 60,000 supporters gathered on Amsterdam’s Museum Square on Thursday to celebrate Ajax's domestic league and cup double, which was completed when they beat De Graafschap 4-1 on Wednesday to finish three points clear at the top of the Dutch league.

"It was an incredible season and we must continue in the same way. The enemy never sleeps," Ten Hag added.

"Next season it is going to be a lot more difficult than this season. To reach the Champions League semifinal and win the double — that was never a target. This season belongs among the best in the history of the club.

"To become league champions again will be our ambition. But in Europe? I cannot say right now. That we can only determine on Sept. 1 when we know what our squad looks like.” — Reuters