How Ajax could have lined up if they hadn’t sold their star players
When there is a discussion on the best academies in the world, without a hint of doubt, Ajax should be in the top 3 football youth academies. Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank Rijkaard and the de Boer brothers are few of the many notable academy graduates from the yesteryears.
In 1995, when Ajax won the UEFA Champions League, eight of the players who started the match were from the club’s academy. In addition, Patrick Kluivert, who scored the only goal of the game off the bench, is also a product of the famed academy.
In addition to possessing an outstanding youth setup, the club also has a superb scouting network which has helped them sign a lot of promising players at a young age.
However, Ajax’s success has come at a huge cost. They keep losing their best players to Top European clubs with much better finances and if they didn’t lose their star players, then they would have lined up a potential Champions League winning squad.
Note - This XI only features only active players.
Goalkeeper - Jasper Cillessen (Barcelona)
Jasper Cillessen is not a product of the Ajax academy. Instead, he was signed by Ajax in 2011 from fellow Eredivisie club Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie.
Ajax signed him for €3m and he predominantly played as an understudy to Kenneth Vermeer in his first two seasons. He became the club’s first-choice goalkeeper in 2013/14 and forced Vermeer to move to Feyenoord at the end of the season.
Cillessen was also made the Netherlands’ first-choice goalkeeper for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and he started every game for his country as they finished third. For Ajax, he was the undisputed number one for two more seasons before switching to Barcelona for €13 million transfer fee plus another €2 million in add-ons.
The 29-year-old has played as a backup to Marc-André ter Stegen at Barcelona and he is arguably the best backup goalkeeper in the world at the moment.
Honourable mentions - Maarten Stekelenburg (Everton)