Erik ten Hag claims he believes he is “ready for the next step” having been linked with an Ajax exit.

The Dutchman has led the Amsterdam outfit since 2017, guiding them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

He has managed to rebuild a squad having lost many of his key players and again has Ajax looking like a force.

That has inevitably attracted the attention of several clubs around Europe, with Manchester United among them.

The Red Devils could be on the look out for a new coach come the summer, once Ralf Rangnick’s interim spell may have ended.

Ten Hag is among the leading candidates on their shortlist and has expressed a desire to take on a new challenge, which could alert the Old Trafford top brass.

He told de Volkskrant : “I think I’m ready for it [to move to a top foreign club]. I would be happy to take up that challenge.

“But I’m not chasing it. If it turns out that that step will never come, I will not say that my coaching career has failed. But I think I have sufficient competences to take on that challenge.”

Ten Hag has won two league and cup doubles during his Ajax tenure.

He again has them well placed to continue their domestic dominance whilst they have won all five of their Champions League games this term, helping them progress to the last 16.

Ajax would reportedly not stand in the 51-year-old’s way if he wanted to seek a challenge elsewhere.

The Dutch club have built an impressive infrastructure with Marc Overmars and Edwin Van der Sar taking on leading roles behind the scenes.

United’s other options are PSG’s Mauricio Pochettino, who was linked with the post when Jose Mourinho was sacked in 2018, and Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Amorim.

The Portuguese coach has a growing reputation having taken impressively to the dugout.

His career is still in its infancy but he has helped Sporting become Portugal’s dominant force.

Despite the links Amorim recently gave Ten Hag a glowing endorsement and urged United to pursue the Ajax boss.

He said: “If I may, I think Manchester United should sign Ten Hag this week. Now that would be something that would make me quite happy.”

The Dutchman’s philosophy would suit United’s ambitions, which furthers his appeal.

Ten Hag also worked previously with current Red Devil Donny van de Beek, who has struggled to establish himself at Old Trafford since leaving his homeland.

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