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Ajax set to hit jackpot selling players

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Rich European teams, such as Barcelona and Juventus are circling, like vultures, around Ajax Club to swoop on their players, with the Amsterdam club estimated to earn $469 million from the deals.
Although Ajax have reached the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League, football pundits fear that the club may not sustain the season’s level if they agree to offload their prized assets.
Clever recruitment allied with a successful youth academy had played a large part Ajax in turning Ajax into a European force, just like in the past.
Tomorrow, they face Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Using figures from specialist website Transfermarkt, the Ajax squad’s combined value is some 420 million euros ($469 million), significantly greater than the club’s budget.
So could we be about to see a situation similar to that of Monaco two years ago, when they won the French title and reached the Champions League semi-finals before cashing in?
Monaco raised around 350 million euros in 2017, including the 180 million-euro deal to sell Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain.
Ajax know what might be coming after a season in which they could still win a domestic double.
“You want to keep your best players and develop yourself but we want to develop and scout, build in our academy,” Edwin van der Sar, former Ajax goalkeeper and now club CEO, told AFP in a recent interview.
“If they get attraction from big clubs when you play well in the Champions League, we know there are bigger clubs than us.”
AFP Sport takes a look at the biggest assets in Erik ten Hag’s squad who may well be starring abroad next season:
Matthijs de Ligt is a pure product of the Ajax academy, having joined aged nine. He has gone on to become the club’s youngest ever captain aged 19 and it was he who scored the winner against Juventus in the quarter-finals.
The classy Dutch international has plenty of suitors, with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG all linked with a move. They will need to pay in the region of 70 million euros, at least, to get their man.
Behind him, Cameroon international Andre Onana, who was at the Barcelona academy, has attracted interest from abroad too. The 23-year-old recently extended his contract until 2022, though, and it would take a big bid to persuade Ajax to sell.
Left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, an Argentine international, has been linked to Arsenal and Ajax would hope to rake in up to 25 million euros for a player they signed in January last year.
Ajax have already secured the biggest transfer deal in their history after agreeing in January to sell Frenkie de Jong, the 21-year-old midfielder, to Barcelona for 75 million euros.
The Catalans could also pay 11 million euros more in bonuses after snatching the playmaker from under the noses of other leading European clubs.
Donny van de Beek, 22, has not been in the spotlight as much as De Jong but was outstanding against Juventus in an attacking midfield role.
He might be available for a far more modest fee in the region of 25 million euros, but Ajax already have a new wave of youngsters coming through behind them.
Jurgen Ekkelenkamp is just 19, while Ryan Gravenberch became the youngest player to make his debut in the Eredivisie when he came on aged 16 years and 130 days earlier this season.
Ajax have been banging in the goals this season, netting 160 in all competitions, a Dutch record.
That is despite them usually playing without an out-and-out striker, with Dusan Tadic operating as a false nine in between Hakim Ziyech and David Neres.
None of that trio came through the club’s academy, however. Instead, all three were bought in the last three years for a combined fee of little more than 30 million euros.
Should they leave after this campaign, Ajax could expect to make a big profit, and Tadic has already been linked with a return to England a year after leaving Southampton for 11.4 million euros.
Meanwhile, Kasper Dolberg has been relegated down the pecking order since starring in Ajax’s run to the 2017 Europa League final, but the 21-year-old Dane is still valued at over 20 million euros

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