Like the butterflies, the flowering of the cherry tree or the Chinese calligraphy with water, the Ajax of the 2018-19 season has had the ravishing beauty of the ephemeral. Since the beginning of the course, the entire football world knew that the adventure of the Dutch team, with that amalgam of young talents living in an environment that fostered creativity and joy, was an exciting project destined to self-destruct once success hits the door. "We are not Juventus, Manchester City or Real Madrid, the rule here is that when we do it well, the players leave," the Ajax coach recalled last month. Erik Ten Hag.
And they have done more than good. Champion of the Dutch Cup and also (virtually) of the Eredivisie – a title he will certify on Wednesday when he faces De Graafschap of Doetinchem on the final day of the competition – Ajax he was only a minute away from being able to choose the triplet by falling dramatically in the added time of the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Tottenham. Lucas Moura's goal in the 96th minute was an unexpected blow that, once past the duel, served to highlight the greatness of what was achieved and to connect, in some way, to the team of Ten Hag with the 'ethos' of the best Dutch football, made of admirable squads always condemned to sink on the shore.
An eleven of 28 million
And all with a budget lower than any Premier League team and sidereal distance of the numbers managed by these clubs that are now fighting to get the services of the young stars of the 'ajacied' box. The two most expensive players in Ajax are Serbian Dusan Tadic, signed from Southampton last summer for 11.4 million euros, and the Brazilian David Neres, which in January 2017 cost 12 million plus three others in variables, the second highest amount ever paid by the Amsterdam club (the record, 16 million in 2008, belongs to Miralem Sulejmani). The total cost of the starting eleven that the 8 of May faced the Tottenham in the Johan Cruyff Arena round the 28 million of euros. 13 less than Malcom.
After closing last season in white, the sports management of Ajax asked its best players to ignore the offers of other teams and remain in Amsterdam for another year, at the end of which they would be given all the facilities to change of airs if so they wanted it. The only one who declined the proposal was Justin Kluivert, who chose to go to Roma, where he has had many problems to earn a place in the starting lineup. Conversely, Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech and others accepted the challenge and won. Today they are pieces quoted in a market that is preparing to scrap, relentlessly, the most exciting team of the course. With De Ligt a step away from closing his signing for Barça, this is the future that awaits some of them:
FRENKIE DE JONG
The only member of the Ajax squad who at this point knows for sure that next season will be playing elsewhere is this newly-completed 22-year-old midfielder who has taken half of Europe. After an intense negotiation, on January 23 FC Barcelona announced its contracting for the next five seasons, with a cost of signing of 75 million of euros plus 11 in variables. A childhood dream come true for a footballer who was also interested in PSG and Manchester City, who pursued the signing until the last moment.
DONNY VAN DE BEEK
The 22-year-old youth player is, together with De Jong and De Ligt, the most sought-after footballer of the 'ajacied' team, thanks to his great performances in the knockout phase of the Champions League. Ajax has assessed it at around 70 million, amount that has made to desist to the Borussia Dortmund but not to the PSG. Not even Real Madrid, who sees in Van de Beek a possible alternative to the desired (but more expensive) Pogba and Eriksen.
Another player who will hardly remain in the Johan Cruyff Arena is this young extreme (22 years old) who came from Sao Paulo and who, after a brilliant season (12 goals and 15 assists) has already debuted with the Brazilian national team. Its price is around 45 million. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and PSG follow in his footsteps.
Last summer, the Moroccan midfielder (26 years old) faced his own fans and was about to accompany Justin Kluivert on his march to Rome. Today, big clubs from half of Europe (Liverpool, Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham & mldr;) are sighing for him and it is in the hands of Marc Overmars to open the door for him.
With 30 years, the Serbian who scored for Real Madrid at the Bernabeu is one of the most veteran footballers in the squad. For its affordable price, about 15 million, is on the agenda of several clubs (Juventus and Bayern Munich, among others). Tadic says he feels comfortable in Amsterdam, but he does not rule out anything.
Meanwhile, and in anticipation of an exodus that may not contain, Ajax comb the market in search of young talents with which to build a new project. While battling for Martin Odegaard and Steven Bergwijn, he has already recruited goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen (19), defender Kik Pierie (18) and Romanian midfielder Razvan Marin (22). The adventure continues.
(tagsToTranslate) Ajax (t) players (t) signings (t) De Jong (t) De Ligt (t) Van de Beek