Former scout ‘very angry’ Manchester United after miss chance to sign £133m duo

Former Manchester United scout Marcel Bout has hit out at the Premier League giants for ignoring his advice over Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.

Telling a tale which will not lead to any revisionism over Ed Woodward’s time in charge at Manchester United, a man who spent eight years at Old Trafford between 2014 and 2022 has opened up on a plan which could have seen two of Europe’s rising stars end up in England.

Marcel Bout, speaking to Algemeen Dagblad, wanted United to strike up a partnership with Dutch giants Ajax, legendary Red Devils ‘keeper and Johan Cruyff Arena CEO Edwin van der Sar potentially acting as a ‘bridge’ between two European powerhouses.

Unfortunately for Bout – and United for that matter – you could probably fit Woodward’s footballing expertise onto a post-it note.

Training Session Ajax

Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

De Ligt and De Jong shone under Ten Hag at Ajax

“I said to Ed Woodward; ‘Edwin van der Sar played here. Now, create a bridge to Ajax through him’,” Bout recalls. “17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt played at Ajax in training. Later, Frenkie de Jong came to Ajax.

“’Make sure that, at United, you make a deal early on for these kinds of talents, and then you can always let them mature for a while in the Netherlands,’ I said.”

De Ligt and De Jong, a few years later, would become the spine of the Ajax team which stormed to the Champions League semi-finals under Erik ten Hag. De Ligt would go on to join Juventus for £68 million, only a few months after De Jong agreed a £65 million move to Barcelona.


What could have been?

“(My advice went ignored) because there are so many forces at play within United,” Bout adds, the names of De Ligt and De Jong added to a staggering list of wonderfully talented footballers who slipped through United’s grasp in the Woodward era.

“(The Man United bosses) don’t make decisions, or make them too late. Isn’t that a shame? My dismissal has made me very angry.”

Louis van Gaal, the man who brought Bout to Old Trafford nearly a decade ago, famously told FourFourTwo a couple of years ago that he tried and ultimately failed to bring in such luminaries Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane and even Neymar.

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