The accountants in the Johan Cruijff Arena have an exceptionally busy summer. Ajax deposited more than 100 million euros for newcomers, but 120 million also came in from sold players. And the green numbers can be even greener with all the bills that blow over from England – when Antony leaves for Manchester United.
What should Ajax do with such a bulging safe, with all those Antony millions? Immediately get a new top player with a view to the Champions League?
Hakim Ziyech is potentially the ideal replacement for Antony, that needs little explanation. The attacking midfielder who left for Chelsea at the beginning of 2020 has little time to play in England and sees a return to Ajax. The problem is: Ziyech wants to be bought, Ajax only wants to rent. Both sides are said to have had talks, but a transition currently seems a long way off.
Schreuder keeps hope in Antony
For Ajax coach Alfred Schreuder, Antony is still just an Ajax player. In fact: “If the situation changes in the coming days, he could be part of the group,” said Schreuder at the closing press conference on Thursday before the match against FC Utrecht. “But then he has to train.” That didn’t seem to be the case for the past few days.
Ask Schreuder if he sees Antony leaving and he is clear: no. “Because I have confidence”, said the Ajax trainer.
Schreuder about Antony: “If the situation changes, he may be with the group on Sunday”
Another name, besides Ziyech, does not immediately spring to mind. And then a panic buy quickly looms. Or are there other options?
“Don’t spend. Do nothing at all,” says analyst and commentator Arno Vermeulen. “There is no need. Ajax is now double occupied everywhere. The vacancy on right winger can easily be filled by a player who already has Ajax.”
“Berghuis can play well there,” says Vermeulen. “He is an international who has a lot of experience on the wing and can expect less playing time in midfield anyway.”
“It is also Ajax’s to fill in the open space with a youth player who comes through.” The Future is there for a reason. Vermeulen suggests: “I want to see Conceiçao sometime.” The nineteen-year-old Portuguese, who was fetched for five million, scored on his debut for Young Ajax, but did not make any minutes in the main squad.
Pierre van Hooijdonk would also know what to do with so much money. “Nothing,” says the analyst. “Ajax should just keep it on the bench and invest next year in the successors of Dusan Tadic, Daley Blind, Remko Pasveer and Maarten Stekelenburg.”
And don’t forget: not every Antony euro that comes in stays in Amsterdam. “Of all those millions, a large part also goes to São Paulo,” explains Vermeulen.
Antony’s old club in Brazil, São Paulo, would have negotiated a resale percentage of about twenty percent in 2020 when the Brazilian was transferred to Ajax.
Ajax will still add many millions, but it does not make it more attractive to spend everything at once. That does not fit in with Ajax’s policy: educating your own youth, offering talent a chance.
Technical director Gerry Hamstra also said at the beginning of August that Ajax’s urge to buy should not become a pattern this summer. “This is an incident. This is a window in which eight or nine players have left. You have to act adequately on that,” Hamstra explained to the spent millions.
Hamstra about busy transfer summer: “Shouldn’t be a pattern, this is really an incident”
“If it becomes a pattern, then it’s a different story. The policy is no different and will be the way we’ve always done it for years to come.” Don’t sprinkle with millions, but with talent. At least for now.
Perhaps the technical brain of Ajax is still secretly thinking of a new goalkeeper. Stekelenburg and Pasveer are stable, but not the youngest anymore. Jay Gorter is young, but not (yet) the most stable.
Keep your wallet in your pocket
Or will Ajax still get someone for the center back? No need at the moment either. Nineteen-year-old Turk Ahmetcan Kaplan came in as a replacement for Perr Schuurs, who left for Torino, with which the team from Amsterdam is also double occupied in the back.
Spending money headlong on a new player does not seem to be the solution. It might be wiser to keep your wallet in your pocket. Moreover, an injury is easily sustained and then a sudden reinforcement during the winter break may suddenly be necessary. Then it’s nice when the bookkeeper sniffs through the papers and sees: +100 million euros.