Phil Thompson believes Jari Litmanen's 'love affair' with Ajax was the real
reason why the Finnish ace has quit Liverpool.
Litmanen has left Anfield a day before the transfer window shuts after 19
difficult months, to rekindle his dream days in Holland, where he twice figured
in a European Cup Final for the Dutch masters.
|Jari Litmanen: On way out|
He has moved to Ajax on a free, which is exactly how he arrived from Barcelona
in January last year.
Litmanen, capped 76 times for Finland, moves on with Liverpool's number two
Thompson saying: 'He made his name at Ajax and is a legend there. He wanted to
go back and nobody wanted to stop him. We just hope he does very well for them.
'Although he says that Liverpool was his first love as a kid, if you were to
ask him now what is his team, he would say Ajax.
'He's always had very fond memories of Amsterdam and the fans there, he's a
hero to them.'
Liverpool discovered the adulation Litmanen still receives from the Dutch when
they played in a pre-season tournament in Amsterdam a little more than a year
Such was the hysteria, Litmanen broke off from the Liverpool team group to
throw flowers to the fans as they chanted his name.
Thompson said: 'We discovered how well he is still thought of at Ajax when we
played a pre-season tournament there a year or so ago.
'They still chant his name now, so there has always been a love affair
between player and club.
'The lure of all that has been too much for him to turn down. And it's fair
to say that for him to have a regular place in the side at Liverpool would have
'He obviously sees himself getting that regular place back at Ajax, and it's
the love of his career.'
Litmanen turned down one earlier approach from Ajax this summer because they
wouldn't meet his wage demands. But now he will sign a one-year contract with a
He made just 24 starts for Liverpool and made another 24 coming on as
Thompson said: 'It was difficult for him here. He's always done well and
scored vital goals. He's a good player but he prefers to play off the front
'That's something we could do in away games but at home we preferred to play
two out-and-out strikers, and that was a problem for him.
'Now Jari has gone to Ajax, and that's a little sad. If he'd had played a lot
more games for us maybe he would still be here, but he didn't manage that.
'It was always difficult to fit him into the team the way he plays. But he's
been a good professional and never complained, just accepted that.
'He made his name at Ajax and is a legend there. He wanted to go back and
nobody wanted to stop him. We just hope he does very well for them.'
Liverpool do not have a game now until Monday's TV clash with Newcastle, and
Thompson confirms that they have no injury problems to contend with as they try
to protect their 100% home record.