Ajax legend and current club CEO Edwin van der Sar believes new Tottenham Hotspur recruit Davinson Sanchez departed Amsterdam at least a year too soon.
Spurs spent a reported £42m ($54.7m) to make Sanchez their club-record signing in mid-August after several weeks of frustrating transfer passivity, with manager Mauricio Pochettino confidently declaring that the 21-year-old would become one of the best centre-backs in world football.
Sanchez's big-money move to the Premier League came just one year after Ajax negotiated a €5m fee with Colombian and Copa Libertadores champions Atletico Nacional and saw off competition from the likes of Barcelona in bringing him to Europe.
The promising young defender made quite a name for himself during his solitary season in the Netherlands, appearing 47 times across all competitions and helping Peter Bosz's vibrant and youthful attacking side to challenge for the Eredivisie title and also reach the final of the Europa League.
And while it may have been the right time for the likes of Davy Klaassen, Jairo Riedewald and even Kenny Tete to fly the nest, Van der Sar believes Sanchez would have benefited from at least another 12 months with the four-time European champions. However, he also acknowledges the difficulty clubs like Ajax face in trying to repel interest in their best players from richer overseas suitors.
"I'd rather not replace them because I want to have as good a team as possible," the former Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United goalkeeper was quoted as saying by Voetbalzone during an appearance at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester on Wednesday (6 September).
"But we know at a certain point that the Dutch league is not strong enough. Hopefully if you play three, four or five years for the club and give us two or three championships and success in Europe, then in an ideal world it's the right step to go forward.
"I think with Sanchez one year is too early. He should have stayed two or three years, but sometimes with the financial power that is looming over us in the bigger leagues it is quite difficult even for a big club like Ajax, coming from a small league, to resist certain transfers."
Sanchez has made one appearance for Tottenham to date, introduced as a very late replacement for Mousa Dembele immediately after Chris Wood had notched a dramatic stoppage-time leveller in a 1-1 draw with Burnley at Wembley Stadium.
He impressed supporters with his performance during Colombia's 2018 World Cup qualifying tie against in-form Brazil on Tuesday evening and will hope to play some part over the coming week as Spurs visit Everton in their first top-flight clash following the international break before beginning the latest Champions League campaign at home to Group H rivals Borussia Dortmund.