It’s often said that for Rangers to be successful on the European stage, they should be looking to emulate the great work of Dutch giants Ajax.
In a similar league – albeit in a nation with a superior footballing culture – Ajax have managed to assemble and develop squad after squad in recent seasons which can compete at the top European table.
Rangers director of commercial and marketing James Bisgrove has previously name-dropped the Dutch giant’s success alongside the club’s ambitions – amongst that of other clubs such as Porto and Dortmund [Off the Pitch] – whilst Ronald de Boer, a legend at both clubs, has suggested the Gers attempt to copy the Ajax blueprint [Glasgow Times].
Much of Ajax’s success comes down to a coaching philosophy at Academy level with some remarkable transfers out of the club in recent seasons.
The likes of Academy graduates Matthijs de Ligt (£67.8m to Juventus), Siem de Jong (£65.3m to Barcelona) and Donny van der Beek (£35.7m to Man Utd) raked in over £160m between them after helping the club to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018/19.
Not that Ajax rely on their admittedly very productive Academy; the club has also spent big to maintain their status in Europe, investing heavily in the likes of Seb Haller (£25m), David Neres (£13m) and Quincy Promes (£13.6m), these just three examples in an expensively assembled squad.
But despite their heavy spending, Ajax – a cult club of huge popularity around the globe – are the only club outside of the top five European leagues to be named in Forbes’ latest list of the top 20 most valuable clubs in football.
Ajax might be propping up the list up in 20th, but it is a remarkably admirable feat that the Dutch club have assumed such a position in a footballing world increasingly imbalanced towards the richest divisions.
Ajax’s reported value of $413m (£300m) might be a fraction of number one side Barcelona’s, Forbes valuing the Spanish giants at a whopping $4.76bn (£3.46bn), but it’s a sign of the Dutch club’s strength.
Rangers are some way off achieving similar but the fact the Gers have de Godenzonen in their sights when mapping out their future is something which will certainly encourage supporters.
Rangers do have high hopes for some of the club’s best talent, with one in particular continuing to dominate the Scottish press for all the right and wrong reasons.