The 20 most expensive outgoing Ajax transfers of all time

#15 Thomas Vermaelen (€12 million)

When you say “Belgian defender” in a random pub in Amsterdam, people will usually start talking to you about Jan Vertonghen. Some might even go to the lengths of rambling on about Toby Alderweireld. Sadly, Thomas Vermaelen seems all but forgotten in the residence of his former employer.

Thomas joined the famed Ajax academy through a cooperation program with his former club in Belgium, Germinal Beerschot. Whilst the program was a cooperation, in truth it was just a cheap way for Ajax to recruit the most talented players from Beerschot’s youth. As such, it laid the roots for the arrival of not just Vermaelen, but also De Mul, Vertonghen and Alderweireld amongst others.

He made his debut one year after joining, in a cup game against Volendam. The following season he was loaned out to RKC Waalwijk, but only played a handful of matches. That’s when his breakthrough came, upon returning to Amsterdam. In his first full season at Ajax, he made a real impact and was one of the contenders for player of the year. The season ended with him getting called up for the Belgian national team. Despite suffering numerous injuries early on in his career, he carved himself out a significant place in the squad and was even named captain a good few times.

One can only wonder what could have become of Thomas had he not been so injury prone. He eventually left in 2009, joining Arsenal where he went on to play some of the best football in his career. But injury eventually struck and it’s kept him sidelines for quite some time during his further career in England, at Barcelona and with Roma.

#14 Riechedly Bazoer (€12 million)

At the age of just nine, Riechedly Bazoer was swept up by PSV from amateur club USV Elinkwijk in his hometown of Utrecht. PSV fed and nurtured his obvious talents for six years before Ajax came in and snatched him away into their own significantly more renowned and productive youth academy, despite concrete interest from big spenders Manchester City. His decision to join Ajax was based on advice from his mother. She believed he was too young to move abroad and would be better suited developing in an environment he was more comfortable with and used to.

Bazoer began his footballing career as a tough tackling central defender but Ajax had different ideas. They saw his future as a tall and physical, yet elegant central midfielder and dropped him straight into the heart of the Jong Ajax midfield for their opening game of the 2013/14 season against SC Telstar.

Starting off playing for Jong Ajax, and eventually the first team, Bazoer continued to enhance his already vast skill set. He developed into a physically imposing, athletic box-to-box midfielder with a strong range of passing, a high level of footballing intelligence, and a powerful long to mid-range shot which stung the palms of many an Eredivisie goalkeeper.

It wasn’t long before the up-and-coming Ajax star was a regular in the first team, with European giants such as Barcelona and Chelsea’s metaphorical eyes firmly fixated on his every move. Similar playing styles and the inevitable media hype surrounding a technically gifted teenager playing for Ajax led to many dubbing him the Dutch Paul Pogba and slapping a €20 million price tag on his youthful head.

Despite the media attention and becoming a regular first teamer throughout the 2015/16 season under Frank de Boer, Bazoer found first team football hard to come by under new manager Peter Bosz. A questionable attitude and some poor performances alongside the strong performances of Hakim Ziyech and Davy Klaassen were the reasons behind his lack of opportunities under De Boer's successor. This eventually paved the way for his €12 million move to Wolfsburg in December 2016 where he is currently reigniting his career.

Although Bazoer left Ajax remembered as a hugely talented kid who didn’t quite make it he also left us with some much fonder memories. His delicious, out swinging thunderbolt against Feyenoord will forever strike fear into the hearts of the De Kuip faithful and leave nothing but sweet, sweet memories for Ajax fans to recall on a rainy day. Another derby memory that will never be forgotten is the horrible reception Bazoer received on his return to the Philips Stadion, and not just on the iPhone hurled at him from the stands, but from the enraged supporters sat in them too as Ajax cruised to a glorious 3-1 victory silencing the entire ground.

#13 Jan Vertonghen (€12 million)

Few foreign players have managed to establish themselves as Ajax fan favorites as much as Jan Vertonghen. While it’s nearly impossible for anyone to reach Jari Litmanen levels in terms of popularity, Jantje certainly came close.

Vertonghen’s Amsterdam adventure began in 2003 at the age of 16, when he left then feeder club Germinal Beerschot for renowned Ajax youth academy De Toekomst. The belgian defender - who in fact started out as a midfielder - first rose to Mokum fame because of a bizarre goal he scored in a KNVB Beker game between Ajax Reserves and Cambuur Leeuwarden during the 2005/06 season. After Cambuur had kicked the ball out of play so that an injured Jong Ajax player could get treatment, Jan attempted to pass it back to the keeper in an act of sportsmanship but instead saw the ball sail into the back of the net. Golazo! A proper introduction.

But it wasn’t always fun and games at the start of Vertonghen’s professional football career. He was sent out on loan to Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk for the second half of the 2006/07 season, where he would make 12 appearances and score 3 goals in the process - one of them against Ajax. Even worse, that specific game ended in a 2-2 draw and the Amsterdammers would miss out on the Eredivisie championship that season on goal difference. Thanks a lot, Jan!

Not the ideal foundation for a youngster looking to claim a spot in the first team of Ajax, but Vertonghen’s talent and dedication would quickly dissolve any grudges or ill-will amongst the Amsterdam fanbase. Oh, Johan Cruijff openly expressing his admiration for you doesn’t hurt either.

Following the departure of John Heitinga to Atlético Madrid at the start of the 2008/09 season, Vertonghen became Thomas Vermaelen’s first-choice partner in the heart of defence and cemented his spot in the Amsterdammers’ starting line-up for years to come. He emerged as one of Ajax’ best players, was named club captain by Frank de Boer and won the Eredivisie player of the year award before joining Tottenham Hotspur on a €12.5 million deal at the start of the 2012/13 season.

But the main reason for Vertonghen’s immense popularity is his passionate contribution to Ajax lifting the Eredivisie trophy in 2011 - the first title win since 2004. Not only did it put an end to an extremely painful and uncharacteristic title drought, the Amsterdammers finally got to stick that symbolic third star on their shirt for 30 Eredivisie wins in total.

Jan knows how to get the party started, too. He was even suspended for two games for singing something about cockroaches following the 2010 KNVB Beker win over Feyenoord.

#12 Jasper Cillessen (€13 million)

Born in Nijmegen in 1989, Cillessen was brought up through the youth academy at NEC. He made his Eredivisie debut with his hometown club in 2010, but was snapped up the following summer by Ajax for just over three million as a replacement for Maarten Stekelenburg, though he was predominantly used as a backup for Kenneth Vermeer in both the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons.

Cillessen’s debut for the club was one to remember – a baptism of fire – as he came on for Kenneth Vermeer with Ajax 1-0 down in De Klassieker against Feyenoord. But Cillessen kept calm, which is and always will be his strongest asset, helping Ajax to a 1-1 draw.

The following campaign, after a string of undeniably great performances, Cillessen overtook the duty as Ajax’s starting goalkeeper, celebrating his new role with some excellent displays, highlighted by his efforts in a 2-1 Champions League victory over Barcelona. It was not soon after that he became the Netherlands’ number one as well, guiding them to a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup – though he never could or has been able to save a penalty, and was infamously replaced by Tim Krul in the shoot-out against Costa Rica in the quarter-final.

Mental strength is Cillessen’s finest asset, which goes a long way for a keeper, but there’s a lot more to his game than that. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, Cillessen is a fine distributor of the ball, sometimes mistaking himself as an 11th outfielder. His reflexes make him a terrific shot stopper, keeping Ajax in many games over the years, especially during his final season in Amsterdam when the team stumbled their way to a distant second place finish.

His antics are also beloved by Ajax and Dutch supporters, as he has been at the centre of a number of moments on the pitch that have since gone viral – most notably his terrific fake out on Gonzalo Higuain, and his casual squat near his goal post during the Netherlands’ 3-0 thumping of a beleaguered Brazil side at the 2014 World Cup.

In total, Cillessen made 143 appearances during his Ajax career, keeping 63 clean sheets and conceding 119 goals. His Eredivisie numbers were even more impressive, keeping 50 clean sheets in 101 apps, allowing just 67 goals. Those are some remarkable numbers.

He made the high-profile switch to Barcelona in the summer of 2016, but has made just 10 appearances for the club since, taking a back seat to Marc-Andre ter Stegen. It was far from a smart move for the sake of his playing time, though his courage and self-confidence is admirable. Sometimes the allure of the Camp Nou just proves too much for an individual.

#11 Christian Eriksen (€13.5 million)

Martin Jol, the man who granted Christian Eriksen his first team debut in Amsterdam back in 2010, once stated that the Danish playmaker had the potential to become the best number 10 Ajax had ever had. Quite the statement, considering the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Jari Litmanen and Wesley Sneijder all left an irremovable mark in the Dutch capital from that very same position. And while Jol’s prophecy might not have been fulfilled Eriksen definitely lived up to the hype, earning him a €13.5 million transfer to Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 and the 11th place on this list.

A 16-year-old Eriksen was recommended to Ajax by Scandinavian master scout John Steen Olsen, the same man responsible for the discovery of Jesper Gronkjaer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Viktor Fischer and Kasper Dolberg, to name a few. As often the case, the Amsterdammers were quick to follow the scout’s advice and signed the young Dane for €1 million from Odense BK, snatching him away from the clutches of various interested European giants, including the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea.

After making his first team debut in 2010, it didn’t take Eriksen long to cement his spot in Frank de Boer’s midfield trifecta, playing a crucial role in three consecutive Eredivisie title wins between 2010 and 2013 before leaving for North London. As the side’s main creator, the playmaker assisted a total of 50 goals in 113 Eredivisie games, whilst also scoring 25 himself.

The best number 10 Ajax have ever had? Probably not, but there’s no denying the fact Christian Eriksen is a magical player with fantastic technique. And with Barcelona still desperately looking to revive their midfield, it might only be a matter of time before the 25-year-old takes the next step in his well-thought-out career.

Written by Kevin Suave

Founder and owner of AjaxDaily. Stuck in the nineties. Adores Jari Litmanen.

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