From Cruyff to de Ligt: The evolution of Ajax’s $500 million football factory

Former Ajax player and coach Danny Blind sits down in the club’s boardroom and begins to reel off some of the most prominent players to have contributed to its success over the years.

Johan Cruyff, Ruud Krol, Arie Haan and Jonny Repp helped win three European Cups in the 1970s. Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard starred in the eighties before making way for Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf in the nineties.
As well as being some of the most storied names in world football, all were graduates of the Ajax academy — an institution long-famed for its prolific player output and pursuit of technical perfection.

The Amsterdam-based club continues to churn out some of the most exciting talents in world football today.

Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Justin Kluivert are among the most recent to roll off its well-tuned production line.

In the past, this trio would have formed the backbone of the next great Ajax side.
But maintaining talent has become an increasing challenge with the Dutch league unable to compete with the riches swirling around competitions in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy.

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