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Ajax Amsterdam, one of the biggest football names in The Netherlands, have had a mediocre presence in the Europa League in the past, in 2014 getting out of the group stage just to be demolished by the Austrian team Red Bull Salzburg 6-1 on aggregate (0-3 away and 3-1 at home).
An unexpected result, where once again Ajax fell short, furthermore this puts weight behind the theory that money is in fact superior to youth development in football, now of course placing Ajax as the representatives of youth development in the world of football is just absurd, but having been the mentor team for players such as Johan Cruyff, Wesley Sneijder, Christian Eriksen and Patrick Kluivert to name a few, they’ve got a pretty decent resume.
Yet with these incredible accolades and outstanding players they still fail to achieve any sort of glory when they step outside their home country, despite racking up four league titles in a row from 2010 to 2014.
Recently Ajax defeated Schalke in the first leg of their Europa League quarter final tie with them 2-0 up, only to slip up in the second leg going down 3-0, with the rollercoaster ending in extra-time as they recovered comfortably bringing it back to 3-2 (winning 4-3 on aggregate).
This takes them on to their first ever Europa league semi-final and you have to give them credit, their persistence has lead them to be featured at a much higher stage of the Champions League Hangover Show and maybe a couple of scouts from elite teams might see which youngsters are worth stealing from them.
Why Ajax might just win the Europa League
Justin Kluivert currently sits at the right wing position for Ajax, aged 17 years old and yes, he is the “Son of Patrick Kluivert”, he is also a decent player and impacts games significantly.
For the semi-finals Ajax have drawn Lyon from the French Ligue 1, a very tough opponent indeed and if they are able to overcome that obstacle, only the inconsistency of Manchester United or the dark horses of Celta Vigo stand in their way.
Despite this Ajax have fantastic squad rotation, they’re practically designed to compete in several competitions, for example their prolific goalscorer Kasper Dolberg sat on the bench in the second leg against Schalke to make way for ex-Chelsea man Bertrand Traore.
If that wasn’t enough they have two listed injuries and one of them is an unused youngster, they’ve clearly got an incredible line-up of staff with their outstanding youth and physio statistics.
Oh and did I mention they have the “Son of Patrick Kluivert”!
What Ajax need to do
Consistency is key in football and there are very few players in their line-up who are long standing veterans to the Ajax team, they need to put more emphasis on holding onto their players like the “Son of Patrick Kluivert”.
As we all know, however, football is a business at the end of the day and if millions are on offer for one or two of your future stars there is no doubt a lower tier club will be keen reap the profits to impress their owner(s).
Written by Joshua Arnup
Follow Joshua on Twitter @JoshArnup
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