This website is using cookies.I Accept


Player Development & Recruitment: The Ajax Case Study


May 22, 2019 


Remarkable. A good word to summarize Ajax’s season in the Champions League 2018-2019. Beating the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus to reach the semi-finals ended up being incredible chapters on the beautiful story with a last-minute not-so-happy ending. Tottenham, a club that deserves praise for their achievements and overall off-the-pitch management, topped Ajax, a club that deserves even more recognition for their success.


What should be noted about the Amsterdam-based club is that despite being in the Eredivisie, and not having the financial support of the broadcast income from the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga or LaLiga, managed to put together a competitive and promising squad.


The most recent agreement concerning the Eredivisie’s TV Rights, was when it was acquired by Fox in 2012, on a 12-year deal worth €1 Billionapproximately €4.5 Million per club, per season. The amount is quite a contrast in comparison to the recent report from The Times that the Premier League is on the course to break the £9 Billion mark for the 2019-2022 period.


The Ajax recipe for success seems to be intertwined with its recruitment and player development programmes. From the current squad of 26 players listed on their website, most come from Dutch club’s youth academy or were recruited at a young age and were then developed by Ajax into first-team players. Only nine members of the squad were acquired at a later stage in their careers (over 23 years of age).


Under 21 Recruitment – 9 players

André Onanna 19
Daley Sinkgraven 19
Rasmus Kristensen 19
Frenkie de Jong 19
David Neres 19
Hassane Bandé 19
Kasper Dolberg 18
Per Schuurs 18
Dominik Kotarski 17


Promoted from Youth Academy – 8 players

Matthijs de Ligt
Daley Blind
Noussair Mazraoui
Joel Veltman
Carel Eiting
Donny van de Beek
Dani de Wit
Václav Černý


Looking back onto the Dutch club’s past seasons, all the way back to 1995 when they’ve last won Europe’s top competition, this has been a trend in their squad. Promote from the youth system or rely on recruitment and positive development of youngsters. And, if not always resulting in trophy wins at a continental level, has ensured the club to be worldwide renowned for their capacity of developing high-profile players.


List of Notable/High Rated players sold by Ajax


Frenkie de Jong
Justin Kluivert
Daley Blind
Davinson Sanchez
Davy Klaasen
Arkadiusz Milik
Jasper Cillessen
Riechedly Bazoer
Christian Eriksen
Toby Alderweireld
Ryan Babel 
Jan Vertonghen
Vurnon Anita
Gregory van der Wiel
Maarten Stekelenburg
Luis Suarez
Urby Emanuelson
Thomas Vermaelen
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Johnn Heitinga
Wesley Sneijder
Hedwiges Maduro
Steven Pienaar
Rafael van der Vaart
Nigel de Jong
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Cristina Chivu
Andy van der Meyde
Jesper Gronkjaer
Sunday Oliseh
Benni McCarthy
Jari Litmanen
Edwin van der Sar
Ronald de Boer
Frank de Boer
Marc Overmars
Patrick Kluivert
Winston Bogarde
Finidi George
Nwankwo Kanu
Edgar Davids
Michael Reiziger
Clarence Seedorf




Through confidence on their scouts and coaches from the academy, as well in its footballing philosophy, Ajax has ensured a positive revenue stream through the sale of developed footballers. An excellent example is Frenkie de Jong, who signed from Willem II for a symbolic amount and add-on clause of 10% of any future transfers, and has a move arranged to FC Barcelona for the next season in a deal worth €75 Million.

The effort made on the improvement of de Jong has proven to be extremely profitable for the Dutch champions. As it has been in the past, and surely will be in the future, with the likes of de Ligt, Onana, van de Beek and David Neres all being highly rated in the transfer market gossip for the next transfer window.


Key Takeaways

  • Through investing in youth development and talent identification, AFC Ajax has ensured a continued revenue through the selling of players

  • Club’s philosophy has been strengthened due to the widened gap in the proceedings from TV broadcasting deals across Europe’s top leagues

  • Current success achieved serves as validation of the footballing business model applied at Ajax.



This article was written by Bruno Pantaleoni of SBI's marketing team. For further information you can contact him at bruno.pantaleoni@sbibarcelona.com.


Football Marketing & Management Online Certificate

Start Date: February 13, 2023 | Duration : 2 Months


Get the qualification to start or advance your career in the football industry. Learn the business skills to work in football and network with top industry professionals. Request information here.

Request information

I consent to received commercial information.
I consent the maintenance of my data for further actions.


Sign up for our Newsletter