In football, the likes of Steven Gerrard and Francesco Totti – footballers who have stayed at one club for their entire playing career – are rare. When players get the opportunity to play at a bigger club, more often than not, they take it. This leaves their former teams with a tough task to replace their departed stars. However, some teams have mastered this art.
Numerous factors decide a player's replacement. A clever execution of the sale of the departed player provides more money for new options, while roping in young talent could save money and ensure a bright future. Having an organised academy setup also provides an alternative option for replacements.
Despite all these factors, some European clubs overcome the loss of players adroitly and maintain their status in their respective leagues. Here are five such teams:
Ajax is regarded as one of the biggest clubs in Europe with a rich history. This club sold two strikers who are/were the best at their job at their peak in Luis Suarez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while other star footballers like Christian Eriksen, Wesley Sneijder, and Rafael van der Vaart were also sold to bigger European clubs.
Despite this, Ajax have won the Dutch league five times in the last twelve years. They have also added a couple of KNVB Cup trophies as well. All this, despite selling Luis Suarez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Just imagine what they could have done together!
Ajax’s brilliant youth academy has helped ease the burden of players leaving. According to a survey in 2015, 77 players who trained at Ajax were playing in the highest tier of European leagues, compared to 57 from Barcelona’s La Masia academy.
The academy - De Toekomst (The Future) has produced talents like Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, the De Boer brothers and others. This continued grooming of young talent has helped them to maintain their dominance in Dutch football.