FC Barcelona & Ajax, a close relationship

FC Barcelona & Ajax, a close relationship

Since Cruyff became coach in 1988, 19 players have represented both Barça & Ajax The latest examples are Luis Suarez and Thomas Vermaelen

[[DES_1]]It is nothing new to say that Barça and Ajax share much in common. It all started in the 1970s, when Johan Cruyff came to Barcelona from Amsterdam to play under Rinus Michels. Things intensified in 1988, when president Josep Lluís Núñez brought Cruyff back to the club, this time as manager. The Cruyff model was heavily influenced by what he had seen at Ajax, and since then the two clubs have shared the same footballing philosophy.

Cruyff signed Richard Witschge from Ajax in 1991, who was at the Camp Nou for two years before retuning to Amsterdam. The legendary Ronald Koeman also retired at Ajax after a wonderful period at Barça, where his goal won the European Cup at Wembley against Sampdoria in 1992. In that final he played alongside Michael Laudrup, who would also go on to spend time in Amsterdam.

The 90s boom

Louis van Gaal took over on the FCB bench in 1997 after leading Ajax to European glory two years earlier. He brought Michael Reiziger and Winston Bogarde with him from Ajax, and later added striker Patrick Kluivert and the De Boer brothers on his way to two Liga titles (1997/98 and 1998/99) before standing down in 2000.

His successor, Llorenç Serra Ferrer, continued to draw on Ajax’s famous school of 95 for resources in the form of Marc Overmars and Jari Litmanen. The Mallorcan failed to win any major trophies, but all that changed under Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, The former Ajax and Milan man put together a hugely successful side that included another former Ajax great, Edgar Davids, in midfield.

Pep Guardiola also turned to Amsterdam when he signed both Maxwell amd Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The former stayed for a year and a half, while the Swede was only at the club for a year before leaving for Italy. This summer, two more former Ajax players arrived at Barça with periods in England in between: Luis Suárez and Thomas Vermaelen. The Uruguayan is set to make his debut against Madrid on Saturday after his suspension expires the day before, while the Belgian has also yet to make his first start due, in his case through injury.

Different paths

Witschge, Koeman and Laudrup are not the only players that have left the Camp Nou for Ajax. Roger García, a member of the famous ‘quinta del Mini’ spent the last years of his playing career there, playing alongside Gabri García in 2006, who also had a Barça past. In the summer of 2008, Oleguer Presas made the same journey, playing at Ajax for three seasons, and in 2013 Isaac Cuenca took the same road to play under Frank de Boer. And after three season in Italy, Bojan Krkic joined Ajax last summer to continue the traditional link between the two great clubs, who’ll meet in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.

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