Anorak News | Let’s all cherish Ajax

Let’s all cherish Ajax

by | 1st, May 2019

Good news for Spurs: the Ajax team that out-classed and out-played them for the majority of last’s night Champions League semi-final, earning a 0-1 victory that makes the Dutch favourites to reach the final, will be much changed soon.

The composed Ajax captain, Matthijs de Ligt, at just 19 is coveted by all the richer clubs. His shimmies and side-steps at centre-half made Spurs’ tactic of lobbing it up to the big lad in attack, the 6ft 4in cumbersome Fernando Llorente, all the more inept. De Ligt (to be pronounced: ‘delight’) is surely on his way out of Ajax when the season ends. A huge feee will prove irresistible.

The Dutch side’s wage bill is £47m. That’s lower than anything in the Premier League. It’s less than Stoke’s in the Championship. Ajax’s record signing is the £14m they paid Manchester United for Danny Blind.

Ajax’s money comes from player sales, earning the club around £250m in the last three seasons, including the £75m Barcelona have agreed to pay for Frenkie de Jong. Selling Davinson Sanchez to Spurs earned the Amsterdam club £42m. On last night’s showing, only the most monocular Spurs fan would argue the Londoners got the better end of that deal.

Ajax have a plan. Two years ago when they lost in the Europa League final to Manchester United the club’s entire annual spend on players and staff was less than Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Man United salary. Since then the clubs have gone in two different directions. United bought the marketing bilge and took a desperate gamble on Paul Pogba for around £100m. Ajax invested in Southampton’s Dusan Tadic for £10m and Nicolás Tagliafico for £4m. In that 2017 match, the then 17-year-old De Ligt became the youngest player ever in a major European final. He’s improved. Can the same be said of any United player on the pitch that night?

Ajax get it. They understand the economics of football. De Ligt, De Jong and others will leave the club at the end of this season. Their swan song could a Champions League final with Barcelona. How many will be wearing Barca’s colours next season? Counting De Jong, Barcelona have recruited 20 Dutch players. The list of players the Spaniards have signed from Ajax is one to excite football fans: Edgar Davids, Ronald Koeman, Frank de Boer, Marc Overmars, Johan Neeskens, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Cryuff, Patrick Kluivert and Michael Reiziger.

The semi-final tie’s not over, of course. Spurs can welcome back the excellent Son Heung-Min and only need a goal in the Netherlands to put the match on the knife-edge. But if you are going to lose, defeat to his wonderful Ajax side is no shame.

Posted: 1st, May 2019 | In: Sports Comment | TrackBack | Permalink