Belgian side Royal Antwerp have appointed Marc Overmars as their new sporting director – little over a month after he departed Ajax after sending inappropriate messages to female colleagues.

Overmars left Ajax amid scandal after sending messages and photographs to several women who worked at the Dutch club – behaviour he admitted was "unacceptable".

Despite the lament that accompanied his departure from Ajax, Overmars indicated he was happy with what the new role represented.

"My departure from Ajax was very unfortunate," the 48-year-old said at his presentation. "I have to go through that and continue. I am going to do that now. I want to leave the Ajax page behind me and start a new chapter here. What happened at Ajax will not happen [here].

"The Gheysens family has convinced me of the project and where they want to go with the club. The ambitions are enormous. It is a great challenge and I see the growth potential of the city and the club."

Sven Jaecques, Antwerp's general manager, said he had not specifically consulted the club's female workers before hiring Overmars.

"Not in concrete terms, no," he said. "It is important to give people new opportunities and to turn the page. We spoke with Marc for a long time and listened to what happened and what our values are. That is a match.

"It never stands still at Antwerp. We are taking another very big step in the progress of our club."

Marc Overmars has left his position as Ajax's director of football affairs after it was revealed he had sent a series of "inappropriate messages to several female colleagues".

The Eredivisie giants confirmed on Sunday that Overmars had departed after discussions with the club's supervisory board and CEO Edwin van der Sar.

The former Ajax, Arsenal and Barcelona winger had been in the post since 2012 and in December signed a new contract that would have kept him at the club until 2026. 

A statement on the official Ajax website said "a series of inappropriate messages sent to several female colleagues over an extended period of time underlies his decision to leave the club".

Overmars said: "I am ashamed. Last week I was confronted with reports about my behaviour. And how this has come across to others. Unfortunately, I didn't realise that I was crossing the line with this, but that was made clear to me in recent days. I suddenly felt enormous pressure. I apologise.

"Certainly for someone in my position, this behaviour is unacceptable. I now see that too. But it is too late. I see no other option but to leave Ajax. This also has a major impact on my private situation. That is why I ask everyone to leave me and my family alone."

Supervisory board chairman Leen Meijaard said: "This is a dramatic situation for everyone who is involved in any way. It is devastating for the women who have had to deal with the behaviour. When we heard news of this, we immediately acted, carefully deliberating and weighing what was the best thing to do, all in consultation with CEO Edwin van der Sar and assisted by an external expert.

"Marc is probably the best football director that Ajax has had. We upgraded and extended his contract for a reason. But, unfortunately, he has really gone over the line, so continuing as director was not an option, as he recognised himself. It is extremely painful for everyone. I want to express the wish that everyone involved is given the peace and privacy to process this."

Van der Sar said: "I find the situation appalling for everyone and I agree with Leen Meijaard's words. In my role, I also feel responsible to help colleagues. A safe sport and working climate is very important. We will pay even more attention to this in the near future.

"Marc and I have been playing together since the early 1990s, first at Ajax and then with the national team and we have been colleagues in the management of Ajax for almost 10 years now. That has now come to a very abrupt end. We are working on something very wonderful here at Ajax, so this news will also be a blow to everyone who cares about Ajax."

Edwin van der Sar says he and Marc Overmars are "not ready yet" to leave their roles at Ajax and believe they can help take the club to the next level.

Van der Sar has been Ajax's chief executive since 2016, while Overmars took on the role of director of football in 2012.

The Dutch giants have claimed two Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cup triumphs in the five years since the former goalkeeper was appointed, also appearing in a Champions League semi-final.

However, the 51-year-old claimed he is not satisfied with his achievements at the club he started his professional career with, as he expressed his desire to achieve even more success.

"I think Marc and myself are enjoying it very much here at Ajax," Van der Sar told Stats Perform. "The freedom and rewards, the level of the club is still growing. That brings joy to yourself and gives you a lot of confidence. We're easy in that way.

"For the moment I'm really happy in Amsterdam. I think we're not ready [to leave] yet. We can make a step higher and that's something we're aiming for. To be really, really successful on the pitch. It's not easy, but we're going [to give it a] go."

Van der Sar explained that players and coaches often feel they outgrow Ajax and look to move on, but he is determined to delay the departure of head coach Erik ten Hag for as long as possible.

"You see it also with players, sometimes they think they're finished at Ajax and want to take the next step," Van der Sar said continued.

"I've seen it myself when I went from Ajax to Juventus – it wasn't a natural fit. The level of football, the family, the expectations, it can be difficult abroad.

"But someone with the quality of Erik and the way he lets Ajax play and tick for the last four years, it's obvious there's a lot of interest in him. He is named among the big clubs in Europe.

"Eventually, he will take the next step, but we will try to delay it as long as possible but of course, at a certain point it's up to him. But we have to challenge him and make sure he maybe sees will there be a next level – can we be even better?

"That's what we're working hard for to make sure the players are staying, the scouting brings new talents and the structure around him are ready for a successful period."

Ten Hag will be hoping for another deep run into the latter stages of the Champions League after being drawn against Benfica in the round of 16.

Marc Overmars is staying at Ajax after extending his contract with the Eredivisie champions until June 2026.

Ajax's director of football has been linked with Newcastle United, Barcelona and Arsenal.

But the former Netherlands winger has ended speculation over his future by putting pen to paper on a new deal with the Amsterdam club, who tweeted "stop calling Marc" when they announced his new deal.

Overmars, who played for the club between 1992 and 1997 before leaving for Arsenal, said: "I still feel very excited by my work and get a lot of satisfaction out of it.

"The cooperation with my fellow board members is very good, as well as with the people at the Toekomst [the Ajax sports complex] with whom I work together in the fields of scouting, youth, transfers, and the like.

"I have a feeling that my work at Ajax is not done yet, so I would like to continue here."

Ajax president-commissioner Leen Meijaard: "The Supervisory board is very pleased with Marc Overmars as director of football affairs.

"Of course, the performance of the first team under his leadership is most notable. The team, led by Erik ten Hag [head coach], who was appointed by Marc, is exciting and successful, both nationally and internationally.

"Furthermore, we also see the good development in other technical football matters. With Marc in the management team, we think that the upward trend that our ambitious club has been on for a few years can be continued."

Ajax are a point clear of Feyenoord at the top of the Eredivisie and cruised into the last 16 of the Champions League, winning all six Group C matches.

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The Germany international has played in just one league match for Real Madrid this term. 

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- Ferran Torres is set to land a contract extension at Manchester City, says the Daily Star, with the new five-year deal set to pay him £100,000 a week.

- Lazio midfielder Luis Alberto could be headed for a reunion with Simone Inzaghi at Inter, reports Calciomercato. 

- Everton lead several clubs in pursuit of Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, says Football Insider, with West Ham and Newcastle United also interested. 

- Liverpool and Manchester United are among the clubs queuing for 18-year-old United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi, the Mirror reports. Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich also have been linked to the teen. 

- Newcastle have increasingly focussed on Ajax's Erik ten Hag to replace Steve Bruce, the Express reports, adding that Marc Overmars could also make the move to St. James' Park as director of football. 

 

Erik ten Hag says Marc Overmars' work at Ajax is not over amid reports that Newcastle United want the Eredivisie champions' technical director.

Newcastle parted ways with Steve Bruce following their Saudi-backed takeover by Public Investment Fund (PIF) and have been linked with the likes of Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre and Frank Lampard to take over as head coach.

The Magpies are said to have lined up Overmars for the role of technical director, but Ajax head coach says this is not the time for the former Netherlands and Arsenal winger to depart.

"The positional of technical director is one for the long term," Ten Hag told reporters.

"Marc set things in motion a few years ago. He did this from a certain vision, he introduced structure and managed. It’s started to grow and I don’t think the process is over yet.

"Marc hasn’t informed me [about the Newcastle interest]. I don’t think he’s withholding anything from me either.

"I’m not working on [Overmars going] and now is definitely not the time."

Ten Hag added: "We are growing as a team. And if I expect the players to be busy with that, the trainer should also only be busy with the team.

"Now they shouldn't be working on it [transfers] either. It is now important that you focus on performing with Ajax."

Juventus are not targeting Eden Hazard, while Sergio Ramos looks set to wait for a new Real Madrid deal.

Hazard's future has become a talking point amid his struggles at Madrid since arriving from Chelsea in 2019.

But just where the playmaker could end up remains to be seen.

 

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Juventus are not interested in Real Madrid playmaker Eden Hazard for now, according to CalcioMercato.

Hazard has made just 24 LaLiga appearances for Madrid since arriving ahead of 2019-20 after battling numerous injuries.

Madrid reportedly paid €100million for the Belgium international.

 

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- Sergio Ramos' future at Madrid is also uncertain. The defender is out of contract at the end of the season and is reportedly set to miss another two months after undergoing knee surgery. Marca says Ramos will still be without a contract by the time he returns, most likely in April.

- Changes are also expected at Barcelona at season's end. CalcioMercato reports Milan are interested in midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who has struggled to live up to expectations with the LaLiga giants.

- Barcelona and Arsenal are interested in bringing in Marc Overmars as sports director, according to Mundo Deportivo, with the former Netherlands international set to leave his role as Ajax director of football at season's end.

- After several impressive displays for Leicester City, the Premier League club are rushing to renew Youri Tielemans' contract, which runs until 2023, according to TodoFichajes.

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