AMSTERDAM, May 22 (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam can expect a big windfall from its Europa League final against Manchester United on Wednesday but any thought it could prove the start of a dynasty to rival their all-conquering team of the 1970s will be quashed by contemporary reality.
Success in reaching a first European club competition final in 21 years has revitalised the Ajax brand.
“It is probably the biggest compliment of this year’s run to the final that Europe is again talking about Ajax,” said club marketing director Edwin van der Sar, who kept goal for both Manchester United and Ajax.
But the reality for the Dutch club - with an operating budget of 85 million euros – over the last decades has been their role as a producer, and then swift seller, of talent.
The shop window of the Europa League final in Stockholm means Ajax can expect added interest in a bevy of players already earmarked for the exit door at lucrative profit for the Amsterdam club.
Captain Davy Klaassen has a price tag of some 25 million euros and is set for a move to Everton, according to Dutch media. Ronald Koeman was in the stands for Ajax’s semifinal success over Olympique Lyonnais and with 20 goals in 49 games this season, Klaassen, a 24-year-old midfielder, has made a persuasive case for himself.
Ajax’s team for the final cost just 19.6 million euros to assemble with midfielder Hakim Ziyech alone costing 11 million last August.
Five of the expected starting line-up on Wednesday came through the club academy without any transfer fee outlay, including 17-year-old centre-back Matthis de Ligt, Lasse Schone and Kenny Tete.
None of them are expected to stay long as Ajax adhere to a nominal salary cap of some 40,000 euros per week.
“In the past, only the best players went but now Ajax develops players until a sack of money is laid down in front of them and then the player is gone,” former defender Sonny Silooy said in De Volkskrant on Monday.
But Ajax are still hopeful Wednesday’s final will lead to more glory in Europe to rival the time when they were the continent’s best, taking three European Cups in a row between 1971 and 1973.
“We hope Ajax can continue to show good things in Europe and in the next years to prove reaching this final was no accident,” Van der Sar added in Dutch newspaper interviews at the weekend. (Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Mark Heinrich)