Ajax wage bill is less than half of what Juventus paid for Cristiano RonaldoTwenty-four years after their last Champions League triumph, Ajax, a club which has turned into a feeder of talent for European giants, has punched above its weight and reached the semifinals. Here’s a look at why their football ethos is unique
Half of the players who started the 2nd leg against Juventus in Turin did not cost Ajax a rupee. Four players — Joel Veltman, Matthijs de Ligt, Noussair Mazraoui and Donny van den Beek — are Ajax’s academy products while Lasse Scone was a free transfer from Dutch club NEC.
The most expensive player in the team is Daley Blind. He graduated from Ajax’s academy but went on to join Manchester United. He was bought back for €16 million. Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadic and David Neres were signed for €12 million or less. Goalkeeper Andre Onana, one of the players on Barcelona’s radar, cost Ajax €150,000 euros when he joined from La Masia in 2015.
Soaring market value
The market value of Ajax’s starting XI vs Juventus is estimated at approximately Rs 2,588 crore (€330 million). De Jong (€75 million) and De Ligt (€70 million) lead the charts. The stocks of the likes of Neres, Ziyech, Tadic and Onana, too, have shot up.
Legacy of Total Football
The high-pressure style, fluid movement and the quick transitional play of this side brings back memories of Ajax and Dutch teams of the 1970s that made famous the ‘Total Football’ style of play. Perhaps not as polished as what the legendary Johan Cruyff and his peers had brought to the table, but the similarities are clear.
In the last three seasons, Ajax has sold players worth over €200 million, and purchased footballers approximately worth €115 million. Fourteen of Ajax’s current senior squad are players that are either graduates from the academy or started playing first-team football at Ajax.
The likes of Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten and Wesley Sneijder have all been graduates of Ajax’s youth academy, and have moved on for major money deals. With an average age of 24, the Ajax squad is the youngest team in the Champions League this season along with CSKA Moscow