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Hit or miss: 10 stars who swapped Ajax for Barcelona

| 21.10.2015

Lee Gormley | October 21, 2015

Barcelona to scout Ajax stars and Van Persie

A rich history of players connect both Dutch giants Ajax and reigning European champions Barcelona, with the likes of Johan Cruyff, Michael Laudrup and Marc Overmars having enjoyed success with both clubs.

Soccer - Johan Cruijff Shield - Ajax Amsterdam v PEC Zwolle - Amsterdam Arena

It seems Barca are ready to continue the long-standing tradition of recruiting Ajax talent to their ranks, as they prepare to send a high-profile scout to the Eredivisie side’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahce.

Reports suggest the Catalans are sending one of their most trusted talent-spotters to Istanbul to look at the progression of young aces such as Riechedly Bazoer, Davy Klaassen, Jairo Riedewald, Anwar El Ghazi, Viktor Fischer and Arkadiusz Milik.

Barcelona, who are 3/1 with Coral to retain their Champions League crown this term, will look to strengthen on January 1st, when their transfer ban is finally lifted, and some of Ajax’s current crop of youngsters could be snapped up, as well as Fenerbahce frontman Robin van Persie.

Ten stars who swapped Ajax for Barcelona

Following Barca’s attempts to potentially lure further Amsterdam starlets to the Nou Camp, here are 10 famous players that become either a hit or miss, after leaving Ajax for Barcelona during their careers.

Jari Litmanen – miss

Spanish Soccer - Primera Division - Barcelona v Racing Santander

Considered the greatest player to have come from Finland, captaining his country for 14 years and featuring for many prestigious clubs during his club career, including spells in England with Fulham and Liverpool.

Although it was at Ajax where he made his name, becoming one of Louis van Gaal’s star performers in their three consecutive Dutch title triumphs and reached back-to-back Champions League finals, also winning the European crown in 1995.

In 1999, Litmanen departed for Barcelona though, linking up with former boss Van Gaal once again, but his time in Spain was plagued by injuries and he eventually left for Liverpool in 2001 after growing out of favour.

Michael Reiziger – hit

Spanish Soccer - Primera Division - Valencia v Barcelona

Having come through the illustrious Ajax youth system, Reiziger then spent six successful seasons within the senior ranks after making his debut as a 17-year-old and, after two loans spells, he established himself as a solid defensive figure, lifting that 1995 Champions League.

The versatile Dutchman also worked under Van Gaal at Barca, after a single campaign with AC Milan, where he spent seven years and, despite never being an undisputed starter, won successive league titles in 1998 and 1999, making over 200 appearances.

Marc Overmars – miss

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group B - Liverpool v Barcelona

Before suffering a damaging injury in 1995, Overmars was pivotal to Ajax’s three Eredivisie crowns during the 1990s and integral to that famous 1995 Champions League victory. After enjoying success with Arsenal, he became the most expensive Dutch player in history with a £25m move to Barca, but failed to win any silverware and announced the first of two retirements in 2004.

Winston Bogarde – miss

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group A - Barcelona v Hertha Berlin

Before his infamous four-year turmoil at Chelsea, Bogarde slowly built his reputation at Ajax for three seasons, but endured Milan misery following a departure from Amsterdam in 1997. Following just three Serie A outings, he arrived at Barca to join Van Gaal, but as the Dutch influence was deteriorating, so too was Bogarde’s career, as he was eventually shipped off to London.

Edgar Davids – hit

Soccer - Dutch Eredivisie - Ajax v FC Utrecht - Amsterdam ArenA

Davids began life with Ajax at the age of 12, going on to lift three league titles in their senior set-up, along with the 1992 UEFA Cup and 1995 Champions League. While at the Dutch giants, the midfielder was nicknamed ‘the Pitbull’ by Van Gaal for his ferocious tackling and aggressive approach.

Despite only arriving at the Nou Camp briefly on loan in January 2004, Davids is regarded as the catalyst for the Catalan club’s resurgence of form and eventual Spanish dominance, helping Frank Rijkaard rebuild fortunes during his temporary stint away from then-parent club Juventus.

Patrick Kluivert – hit

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group A - Newcastle United v Barcelona

Part of Ajax’s Golden Generation during the 1990s, Kluivert incredibly bagged the winner in the 1995 Champions League final at just 18 years of age, eventually forging a rampant partnership with Rivaldo at Barca to lift 1998 and 1999 La Liga titles.

Thomas Vermaelen – miss

Spain Soccer

Following a league title triumph in his debut senior season at Ajax, Vermaelen eventually became club captain briefly before a switch to Arsenal, but has endured a torrid time with injuries since arriving at Barcelona last year.

Frank De Boer – miss

Spanish Soccer - Primera Division - Barcelona v Racing Santander

De Boer is currently the manager of Ajax, having also guided his beloved club to five Eredivisie crowns and a Champions League triumph during their dominance in the 1990s as a player. After over a decade in Amsterdam, he switched allegiances to Barca, where he picked up a single La Liga title.

Although, the all-time Netherlands appearance holder was later banned after testing positive for a banned substance in Spain, with his career stumbling after the dismissal of Van Gaal in 2000.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – miss

Spain Soccer La Liga

Current PSG marksman Ibrahimovic showed signs of his eventual class at Ajax, captivating Dutch defences with his sublime attacking talents and winning two league titles. After time with two of Italy’s elite clubs Juventus and Inter Milan, the Sweden striker arrived at the Nou Camp in 2009, but only spent two years in Spanish surroundings.

Ibrahimovic netted 22 times across 46 outings for the Catalan club, lifting the La Liga title, Spanish Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup during his two seasons, but eventually left after an apparent falling out with then-coach Pep Guardiola.

Luis Suarez – hit

Soccer - Copa del Rey - "FC Barcelona v Villarreal"

Controversial Uruguayan forward Suarez has never been far from the headlines, for his sensational efforts or contentious behaviour on the pitch, but the former Anfield hero is one of the world’s best regardless.

Suarez struck a sublime 111 goals in 159 appearances for Ajax before his Liverpool switch, and has since been in phenomenal form for Barcelona after his reported £75m move from Merseyside. Winning a historic treble in his maiden campaign, the South American could easily go on to become an all-time Nou Camp great and he is 9/1 to finish Champions League top scorer this season.


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Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.