I almost signed Akpom at 19 – Ajax director

Ajax director of football, Sven Mislintat, says he almost signed their new striker, Chuba Akpom, for Borussia Dortmund from Arsenal when he was 19, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Akpom penned a five-year-deal for an initial fee of €12.3m to join the Dutch giants on Wednesday and was handed the iconic No.10 jersey, which was previously worn by Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard, Aron Winter, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.

Mislintat was the chief scout at Dortmund from 2006 to 2017, signing players such as Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and performed the same role at Arsenal from 2017 to 2019.

The German, who was appointed Ajax director of football in April, could not hide his admiration for the former Arsenal man.

“Chuba was a special player as a young player. He played as a supporting striker, attacking midfielder, and sometimes winger but also number nine. A very versatile player with a lot of qualities. To be honest, I was already interested once in him. I tried to sign him at the age of 19 from Arsenal to move to Dortmund but he made a decision to stay at Arsenal,” Mislintat told Ajax website.

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With his decision to stay at the Emirates Stadium then, Akpom endured some tough loan spells before making some breakthroughs in Greece with PAOK and finally Middlesbrough in the Championship last season, when he scored 29 goals for Boro in all competitions to finish as the second tier’s top scorer and also win the league’s player of the season award.

“I’m quite happy for him that he has developed into the kind of striker he can be at 28,” Mislintat added.

Akpom will be unavailable for Ajax when they play (*19*) this weekend because he is yet to get his work permit. However, he could play in their Europa League qualifier next week.

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