After the dream season 2018/2019 and the frustrating elimination in the group stage last year, Ajax will start a new Champions League adventure against Liverpool on Wednesday. The ambition of the Amsterdammers is undiminished: to join the European top. But how does Ajax stand in times of corona compared to the other Champions League clubs?
Ajax in the middle bracket in terms of transfer expenditure
Thanks to the sale of Hakim Ziyech (40 million) and Donny van de Beek (39 million) in particular, Ajax had 101 million in transfer income last summer. For Eredivisie standards that is a staggering amount, but it is not even half the money that came into the Amsterdam drawer last summer, when Ajax achieved a record in transfer income with 206 million euros.
Ajax’s transfer expenditure (with almost 16 million euros for Antony and 11 million euros for Davy Klaassen) amounted to 40 million euros, which is also less than the 58 million euros of a year ago.
With that 40 million euros, Ajax is not one of the big spenders among the 32 Champions League participants, but it is good for the middle bracket. The Amsterdam club is fifteenth, just behind groupmate Atalanta (48.6 million euros), but above RB Leipzig (33 million euros), which surprisingly reached the semi-finals last season.
Number eight Liverpool spent double Ajax with 80 million euros, mainly due to the arrival of Diogo Jota (45 million euros) and Thiago (22 million euros). The third and last opponent of the team of trainer Erik ten Hag in group D, FC Midtjylland, did not go further than 4 million euros, including 2.5 million euros for former Ajax target Pione Sisto.
There are three Champions League participants who exceed 100 million euros in transfer spending, although Barcelona’s 124 million euros gives a distorted picture. The Catalans officially ‘paid’ 60 million euros for Miralem Pjanic, but in fact it was an exchange with Juventus that Arthur Melo got in place of the Bosnian. Chelsea (247 million euros) is at the top, after the arrival of Kai Havertz (80 million euros), Timo Werner (53 million euros), Ben Chilwell (50 million euros) and Ziyech (40 million euros).
The consequences of the corona crisis may be visible at the bottom of the list. Shakhtar Donetsk, Club Brugge (Noa Lang is first rented for a year), Dynamo Kiev and even Real Madrid did not spend a single euro on transfers. It is the first time in 40 years that the Madrid people have not bought a player.
Mohammed Kudus and Antony are two of the five newcomers to Erik ten Hag’s selection. (Photo: Pro Shots)
“André Onana has won prizes with Ajax, has become better and is ready for the next step. And yet I do not rule out that he will stay one more year”, said a hopeful Marc Overmars last spring. The wishes of the director of football affairs became reality. Onana is still there, as is Nicolás Tagliafico, who also seemed to be heading for the exit. The profit of the transfer summer for Ajax, just like last year, was therefore not only in buying, but also in retaining important players.
According to the reputable website Transfermarkt.com Onana (36 million euros) and Tagliafico (28 million euros) are among the three most valuable players at Ajax. David Neres (36 million euros) completes the top three, while the value of the entire Ajax selection is estimated at 272 million euros. That amount is considerably lower than last year, when the value of the selection of Ten Hag – with Van de Beek and Ziyech – was estimated at 352 million euros.
Fourteen Champions League participants currently have a less valuable dressing room than Ajax, including FC Porto (251 million euros), Zenit (171 million euros) and FC Midtjylland (42 million euros). The selections of Liverpool (1.07 billion euros) and Atalanta (373 million euros) are clearly ranked higher.