Ajax v Rangers: The £290m transfer window, smart player trading, new boss and new stars

Rangers will face a different Ajax to the one which won the Eredivisie by two points from PSV Eindhoven last season.

Under Erik ten Hag, the Dutch giants plundered 98 goals and conceded just 19 in 34 league games on their way to the title – their third in a row.

They also emerged from their Champions League group as winners, winning all six games against Borussia Dortmund, Sporting CP and Besiktas before coming unstuck against Benfica.

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Such performances in the league and in Europe caught the attention of many around Europe, namely Manchester United.

The Red Devils convinced Ten Hag to try his hand at getting Manchester United back to the top of English football. Not only that but the Dutch manager took two key players with him in the winger Antony and centre-back Lisandro Martinez. United paid in excess of £85million and £51million for the transfers respectively.

That was £136million of nearly £200million raised through transfer sales. Borussia Dortmund spent nearly £28million on Sebastien Haller and Ryan Gravenbech was snapped up for just shy of £17million by Bayern Munich.

Perr Schuurs, Nicolás Tagliafico and Dominik Kotarski also all left for fees.

Ajax have essentially lost six key components from last season’s squad. All were in the top 15 for minutes played with Haller their top scorer and Antony also hitting double figures.

Ajax have started the season strongly. (Photo by MAURICE VAN STEEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)Ajax have started the season strongly. (Photo by MAURICE VAN STEEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
Ajax have started the season strongly. (Photo by MAURICE VAN STEEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

New boss Alfred Schreuder, who in the last eight years has gone from Twente boss to Hoffenheim assistant to Ajax assistant back to Hoffenheim as boss then Barcelona as assistant before becoming Club Brugge manager in 2022, has witnessed a fair chunk of that money reinvested.

Nearly £95million has been spent with eight of the ten arrivals aged 24 or under.

The three most expensive signings – Steven Bergwijn (£28million), Brian Brobbey (£14million) and Calvin Bassey (£20million) – have all started strongly.

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Despite the upheaval, Ajax are the only team to win all five league matches so far as they sit top of the Eredivisie.

This is the fifth season running they are in the Champions League group stages, progressing twice, once going all the way to the semi-final.

At the heart of that success is smart player trading.

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