There is no doubting Ajax’s achievements this year in the Champions League, their performance in the Santiago Bernabeu will go down in the clubs history as one of their greatest ever nights of European football.
Because of that result, they get to do it all again tonight against Juve in a Champions League quarter-final. Bravo. But this is not a new formula from Dutch football teams, both PSV and Ajax have nurtured talent, made it shine and sold it on for decades. This season Ajax have managed to hang on to some of their stars which has got them to where they are.
But the Barcelona’s and Madrid’s of the football world, as well as others, are already circling with their chequebooks ready to raid.
Ronald de Boer is a part of the coaching set-up at Ajax and he wants the Rangers to copy the Ajax model. The reason we say this is hilarious is for two reasons. One, Ibrox looks more like a retirement home with some of Steven Gerrard’s signings and two, Celtic have successfully nailed this model for the past decade.
So far this season Celtic are playing with the likes James Forrest, McGregor, Ralston Tierney, Johnson & Henderson, all products from the Celtic academy. Then you have first teamers like Edouard, Christie, Ntcham, Ajer, Boyata & Tom Rogic, all bought under the age of 21 and turned into stars.
The Ibrox club has a long long way before they catch Celtic in terms of development. Gerrard has only brought two bit-part players through since his arrival.