Football

How Ajax could have lined up if they hadn’t sold their best players

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Suarez are among the best strikers of their generation.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Suarez are among the best strikers of their generation.

Despite being the most successful football club in the Netherlands, Ajax lost its charisma in the last few decades and became a selling club for the big clubs across Europe.

The decline in the reputation and revenue of the Dutch League affected the clubs immensely and the Eredivisie teams always find it difficult to keep hold of their best players when the clubs from the bigger leagues come calling for them.

Here’s the Ajax’s XI if they had their best players.

Formation: 4-4-2


Goalkeeper – Jasper Cillessen

Jasper Cillesson failed to make his influence at Barcelona.
Jasper Cillesson failed to make his influence at Barcelona.

The Netherlands international was among the best goalkeepers in the Eredivisie prior to his move to Barcelona. He conceded just 119 goals in his 143 appearances in all competitions for the Dutch giants.

Cillessen started his professional career with his local club, NEC in 2010 and made 31 league appearances during his debut season. His impressive performances were awarded the Gelderland Footballer of the Year 2010 accolade and also earned him the move to Netherlands’ most successful club, Ajax.

He made 101 league appearances in his six years of stay with the club and won the Ajax Player of the Year accolade twice. Cillessen lifted three Eredivisie titles with the Amsterdam based club and also helped his team win the Johan Cruyff Shield 2013.

However, his growth stalled after his move to Barcelona and he managed to make just two La Liga appearances in the last two seasons. He was linked with a move away from Camp Nou last summer but his huge £25 million price tag prevented him from ending his torrid spell with the Blaugrana.

Full Backs

Vertonghen is among the best defenders in the World.
Vertonghen is among the best defenders in the World.

Jan Vertonghen – The 31-year-old is a centre-back by trade but is also capable of playing at the left back and seemed to be the right choice at the left side of the defence.

The Belgium international joined Ajax’s youth team in 2005 and made his first-team debut for the club as a 19-year-old during the 2006-2007 season. He played 155 Eredivisie games for Ajax, scoring 23 goals. Vertonghen won Ajax Talent of the Year 2007-2008, Ajax Player of the Year 2011-2012 along with winning Dutch Player of the Year award in 2012.

His performances in the Dutch league caught the attention of the big clubs across Europe and he transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in 2012. He established himself as one of the best defenders in Europe with the Spurs and was included in the Premier League Team of the Year in the 2012-2013 and 2017-2018 seasons.

Toby Alderweireld- The Belgium international is a versatile player who is capable of playing anywhere across the backline. Moreover, given the lack of quality options at the right back position, Alderweireld fills the spot.

Alderweireld graduated through Ajax’s youth system and went on to make 128 league appearances for the club in six years. He won the Ajax Talent of the Season award 2010 and helped the club win three Eredivisie titles, one KNVB Cup and one Johan Cruyff Shield.

He joined Athletico Madrid in 2013 but failed to make a grade at the club and was loaned to Southampton for the 2014-2015 season. His performances during his loan spell at St. Mary’s Stadium impressed the Tottenham Hotspurs boardroom and they decided to sign him from Athletico in the summer transfer window of 2015.

He made 89 league appearances for the Spurs to date and won the Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Season 2015-16.

Centre-backs

de Liglinked with a move away from the club.
de Ligt linked with a move away from the club.

Davidson Sanchez – Tottenham Hotspur seems to have a special liking for Ajax’s defenders and three out of the four defenders on this list are currently playing for the Spurs.

The Colombian international joined Ajax from Athletico Nacional in 2016 and went straight into the Starting XI of his new club. He played 32 league games during his debut season and helped his team finish runner’s up in both Eredivisie and Europa League. He won the Ajax Player of the Year 2017 for his performances.

However, his stay in Eredivisie didn’t last for long and he joined Tottenham Hotspur for a record fee of £42 million. He is currently an important part of the Spurs and played in 36 Premier League games since making his debut last year.

Matthijs de Ligt- Ajax’s centre-back is among the best young defenders in Europe right now and he already capped seven times for Netherlands’ senior team despite being just 19 years of age.

Matthijs de Ligt is with the Amsterdam based club since the age of nine and made his senior debut during the 2016-17 season. He impressed in the 11 appearances he made that season and won the AFC Ajax Talent for the Future 2016 accolade for his performances.

The Dutch international continued his growth the following season and cemented his place in the Ajax Staring XI. He played 33 league games during the 2017-2018 season and won AFC Ajax Talent of the year 2018 along with the Dutch Footballer of the Year Bronze Boot.

The 19-year-old is linked with a move away from the Ajax arena since the last few weeks and it will be interesting to see whether Ajax will be able to keep hold of their talented youngster beyond this season.

Midfielders

Christian Eriksen is an integral part of Tottenham.
Christian Eriksen is an integral part of Tottenham.

Dusan Tadic- The Serbian international is one of the three current Ajax players to be part of this team.

The 29-year-old joined Ajax from Southampton last summer and started his Ajax career in a brilliant form. He contributed five goals and three assists in the opening eight league games this season and also played a vital role in Ajax’s qualification to the Champions League group stages by scoring three goals and providing the same number of assists during the qualifying round.

Tadic was a regular for the Saints prior to his move to Ajax and played 134 games, scoring 21 goals for the English Club.

Christian Eriksen – With his incredible passing, creativity, vision and the ability to control the game from the midfield, the Danish international is among the finest midfielders in Europe right now.

Cristian Eriksen is a product of the Ajax academy and graduated through the youth groups to make his senior debut for the club in 2010. He played 113 times for the Dutch club before joining Tottenham Hotspur for £11.5 million in 2013.

He won three Eredivisie titles, one KNVB Cup and one Johan Cruyff Shield during his five seasons with the Ajax’s senior team. Eriksen also won a number of individual accolades such as, the Dutch Football Talent of the Year 2011 and Ajax Talent of the Year 2011.

The 25-year old is the integral part of Mauricio Pochettino’s style at the Spurs and is currently the highest scoring Danish Player in the Premier League with 41 goals.

Davvy Klaassen – The Dutch international, Davvy Klaassen joined the Amsterdam based club at the age of 11 and graduated through Ajax’s youth system to become the club captain in 2015.

The midfielder made 126 appearances for the I Lancieri and helped the team win three Eredivisie titles along with Europa League runners-up medal in 2017.

He joined Everton for £23.6 million in the summer transfer window of 2017 but failed to make his impression in the English Premier League and moved to Werder Bremen just a year after joining the Merseyside Blue.

The 25-year-old revived his career in the Bundesliga and contributed two goals along with one assist in the opening seven matches for the Die Werderaner.

Hakim Ziyech- The 25-year-old joined Ajax in 2016 for £11 million after enjoying three successful seasons with their league rival, FC Twente.

Ziyech immediately made his impact on the team and scored seven goals in 27 games during his first season at the club. He kept on improving with time and scored nine goals and assisted a whopping 17 goals for his teammates last season.

Ziyech started strong this season as well and already registered four goals along with four assists in eight league games.

The former Twente player provided the most number of assists in three out of the last four Eredivisie seasons.

Attackers

Luis Suarez is one of the best strikers in the world.
Luis Suarez is one of the best strikers in the world.

Luis Suarez- One of the most lethal strikers in the world football, Luis Suarez first got the spotlight for his performances for Johan Cruijff Arena.

He joined the Dutch giants from Groningen in 2007 and impressed in his first season itself by scoring 17 goals in 33 league games for the club. He played 110 times for the I Lancieri, scoring 81 goals.

The Uruguayan left Ajax to join Liverpool for £22.7 million in 2011. He established himself as one of the best strikers in the world with the Reds and scored 69 goals in 110 games for the English club. He won the Premier League Player of the Season 2013-2014 along with the Premier League Golden Shoe 2013-2014.

The Salto-born striker joined Barcelona in 2014 and is currently adding more accolades to his trophy cabinet with the Blaugrana.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic- The Swede might be way beyond his prime now, nevertheless, he made a bright start to his life in the MLS and is scoring goals for fun.

Ibrahimovic joined Ajax in 2001 from his local club Malmo FF and went on to play 74 league games for the club, scoring 35 goals.

He left Ajax to join Juventus in 2004 and played for seven different teams after leaving the club. He won trophies wherever he went and is considered to be one of the greatest players of his generation.

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