The transfer window of the summer of 2020 has finally come to a close. An unusual year of pandemic football made for an extraordinary long transfer period, in which Ajax conducted plenty of business. At the bottom line, Ajax spent a little over 40 million euros on incoming transfers, while netting a whopping 129 million for outgoing transfers. Below you will find a brief synopsis of all the deals that were struck.
Antony Matheus dos Santos
Marc Overmars and Ajax’ team of scouts had been following Antony’s football in São Paulo for a long time before they decided to make him the second most expensive acquisition in Ajax’ history. His arrival in Amsterdam was celebrated loudly with the slogan (and song) Bem-vindo Antony, and the young Brazilian has not disappointed so far. For a fee just shy of 16 million euros, Ajax brought in an exciting replacement for Hakim Ziyech on the right flank. Antony excels in his dribbling and passing ability, while also scoring two very important goals in four matches.
Davy Klaassen returned to his home club just two days before the closing of the window. To those who are new to Ajax: Klaassen already managed 55 goals and 38 assists in 181 official matches for Ajax between 2011 and 2017. He captained Ajax in the final of the Europa League in 2017. After a disappointing stint at Everton FC and a hard-fought battle against relegation with Werder Bremen, Davy Klaassen decided to turn homewards. Bremen has received 11 million euros in return for the Dutch international’s services. While Donny van de Beek filled the void that Klaassen left in 2017, it is now very much the other way around. Davy Klaassen can play as both a controlling and attacking midfielder, and he brings a lot of energy and fight to Ajax.
Hardly anyone knew his name, so not many people knew what to expect when Mohammed Kudus signed for Ajax on a five-year deal from Nordsjaelland. He has made quite a splash since he joined the club, however. His eye-catching dribbling and silky smooth technique make him stand out among his teammates. He progresses the ball up the field in a way that vaguely reminds the fans of Frenkie de Jong. If he continues to perform like he has in his handful of matches for Ajax, the boy from Ghana might be worth a lot more than the 9 million euros that Ajax paid for him.
Ajax had a vacancy at right-back when Sergiño Dest completed his move to FC Barcelona. Erik ten Hag looked to an old friend to fill that position, as he snatched Sean Klaiber away from FC Utrecht in a matter of days. He will slot in directly behind Noussair Mazraoui in the picking order, and many fans are wondering whether he’s Ajax material. We should not be so quick to judge, however, because he hasn’t even made his debut yet. In Utrecht, he was known for his high work rate and his dangerous crosses. Ajax paid 5 million euros for Sean Klaiber.
Ajax have a new back-up goalkeeper as of this summer, as far as you can call Maarten Stekelenburg ‘new’ to Ajax. Just like Davy Klaassen, Stekelenburg has returned to the place where his career began. He defended the Ajax goal a whopping 282 times between 2001 and 2011: a real club veteran. When he left in 2011, he left on a football journey. He played for AS Roma, Fulham, AS Monaco, Southampton, and Everton, but he never had the success he enjoyed at Ajax. ‘Steek’ is a World Cup finalist and brings a lot of experience to the dressing room. At 38, he is the most senior player of the squad, literally more than twice as old as Ryan Gravenberch. He joined on a free transfer from Everton and signed for one year.
A loan deal for 18 months was struck with Swiss side FC Thun in January of this year. Hassane Bandé would play in Switzerland for a year and a half to regain some fitness and form after his heavy injury. He only managed 13 matches for FC Thun, however, most of which as a substitute. On top of that, FC Thun were relegated. Ajax and FC Thun agreed to terminate the loan contract effective immediately, so Hassane Bandé is returning to Amsterdam. The winger from Burkina Faso will probably not play for the first team this season.
It seems like Hakim Ziyech had made such a good impression at Stamford Bridge last season, that he finally became untenable for Ajax. After four seasons of performing his magic in red and white, Hakim Ziyech joined Chelsea for a fee of around 40 million euros. In London, he will be part of Lampard’s ambitious rebuilding project, while in Amsterdam he will be sorely missed. Players like Hakim Ziyech are so hard to replace you shouldn’t even try.
Donny van de Beek
Joining Hakim in the Premier League is Donny van de Beek. The departure of the fan-favorite player was arguably the biggest blow of the summer. The life of Donny van de Beek is so intertwined with Ajax, he might as well have been born on the pitch of the Johan Cruijff ArenA. For a long time, he seemed bound for Real Madrid, but it was Manchester United who won his signature in the end. Donny will be their number 34 for five years if he sees out his contract. Ajax received 39 million euros from Old Trafford.
Sergiño Dest was only with Ajax’ first team for one year: one very good year. Both his talent and his American passport make him a very attractive signing, and it did not take long for Europe’s biggest clubs to take notice. Bayern reportedly came close to signing Dest, but he ultimately decided on FC Barcelona. He had already said no to Ronald Koeman when he was invited to join the Dutch national team, and he was not going to do it again. Barca wrote down 21 million euros: a pretty price for a fullback.
Marc Overmars clearly decided to cut his losses regarding midfielder Razvan Marin. Just last summer he thought Marin was worth twelve million euros when he signed him from Standard Liège. The Romanian never really impressed in Amsterdam, where he struggled to keep up with the pace. Now the Italian side Cagliari was more than happy to relieve Ajax of Marin after just one disappointing year. Ajax received ten million from Cagliari, which means Overmars’ bad buy (only) cost two million euros.
The transfer of Sven Botman to Lille OSC was a very remarkable one. Ajax received a considerably large fee of eight million euros for a defender who had never even played one minute for the senior squad. Botman did receive his footballing education from Ajax, and he still is a product of De Toekomst, but he never broke into the first team. He enjoyed a good loan spell at SC Heerenveen last season: so good that he convinced Lille to make an offer Ajax simply could not refuse.
Noa Lang switched sides from the champions of the Netherlands to the champions of Belgium. He completed his move to Club Brugge only just before the deadline day. Lang made 14 appearances for Ajax, in which he scored four goals. Heavy competition for a spot on the wings forced him to try his luck elsewhere. Officially, he is joining Club Brugge on a one-year loan deal, but that deal includes a forced transfer next summer. The Belgian side will pay six million euros after this season.
Veltman’s transfer to Brighton & Hove Albion wasn’t a major one in terms of sportive and monetary value. Yet in terms of significance to the player, the club, and the fanbase, this transfer was huge. Joel Veltman is 28 years old, 19 (!) of which he spent at Ajax Amsterdam. Drifting in and out of the starting eleven, Veltman played 246 matches for Ajax, including the 2017 Europa League final. He won three Eredivisie titles, one KNVB Cup, and two Dutch Supercups. Wishing to start an international adventure, Veltman signed a three-year contract in Brighton. He will play as their centre-back or a right-back while wearing Nouri’s number 34, just like Donny van de Beek.
Eiting had been edging towards the first team for a few years, but because of the heavy competition and unfortunate injuries, he has yet to make that final step. This season, rather than settling for a handful of substitutions and second-team football, he decided to go on a loan spell at Huddersfield Town. He will be hoping to play weekly football in the Championship, which will be a bit more challenging for the 22-year-old midfielder than the Dutch second tier. His loan contract expires after just one season, the Terriers do not have an option to buy.
Ajax have sold a lot more players than they’ve bought. Less significant outgoing transfers include that of Lisandro Magallan, who is going on loan to Crotone in the Serie A. Benjamin van Leer is now officially the keeper of Sparta Rotterdam. Dennis Johnsen has also departed for Italy, where he signed for Venezia in the Serie B. The loan contracts of Bruno Varela and Ryan Babel came to an end after last season. They have returned to Benfica and Galatasaray respectively.