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Real escape with hope of progress

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By ESPN Staff

Milan defender Stam agrees Ajax switch

AMSTERDAM, Jan 30 (Reuters) - AC Milan's Jaap Stam will return to the Netherlands in July after agreeing a two-year contract with Ajax Amsterdam, the struggling Dutch first division team said on Monday.

Ajax also agreed an undisclosed transfer fee for the 33-year-old central defender, who won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League with Manchester United in 1999,

Stam started his career in the Dutch second division at Zwolle in 1992. He joined PSV Eindhoven four years later after spells at Cambuur Leeuwarden and Willem II Tilburg.

He moved to Manchester United in 1998 for £10.75 million but left in 2001 shortly after criticising the club's manager Alex Ferguson in his biography.

Stam, who has 67 caps, then spent three years with Lazio before moving to AC Milan.

Ajax are seventh in the first division, 17 points behind leaders Eindhoven after a 4-1 home defeat against Utrecht on Sunday.

They meet Heerenveen on Thursday in a Dutch cup quarter-final and then face arch-rivals Feyenoord in Rotterdam at the weekend.