Ajax’s 10 biggest sales of all time

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • 22 Feb 2024 22:15 GMT
  • 7 min read
Jurrien Timber, Ajax, 2022/23
© ProShots

Ajax are one of the biggest exporters of talent in European football, and they constantly produce players that catch the eye of some of the continent’s best clubs.

With a world-beating academy and smart talent identification, they get hold of some of the game’s brightest young talents and develop them before selling them on for a much higher fee.

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In order to compete with Europe’s best, selling high and earning big profits is an important part of the system, and as one star goes, another is always in the making for the future.

Below, FootballTransfers lists Ajax's 10 biggest sales ever.

10. Edson Alvarez - €38m (to West Ham, 2023)

Edson Alvarez's €38 million transfer to West Ham in 2023 sees him enter this list in 10th place.

The Mexican spent four impressive years at Ajax, having joined from Club America in 2019, and he was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in 2022.

Edson Alvarez joined West Ham in 2023
© ProShots - Edson Alvarez joined West Ham in 2023

However, the Blues did not finalise a deal and Alvarez was on the move one year later, as Declan Rice's replacement at West Ham.

9. Donny van de Beek - €39m (to Man Utd, 2020)

Donny van de Beek emerged through the ranks at Ajax and was winning individual awards right from his teens, so it wasn’t a shock to see him succeed.

Between 2018 and 2020, he consistently improved and Van de Beek showed his best form in the 2019 Champions League run, scoring in important matches against Juventus and Tottenham.

He later earned a big move to Manchester United in the summer of 2020, but the transfer has been a complete nightmare.

Van de Beek has never been favoured at Old Trafford and was even left out of their Champions League squad for the 2023-24 season.

8. Hakim Ziyech - €40m (to Chelsea, 2020)

Like many others on this list, Hakim Ziyech was signed from a fellow Dutch club - FC Twente in this case - and he was one of the first signings under a new transfer policy which saw the Amsterdam-based side open to spending more money.

In his four years at the club, Ziyech brought flair and style to the Johan Cruyff Arena, and was a major part of the squad that reached the Europa League final in 2017 and the Champions League semi-final in 2019.

He earned a move to Chelsea in 2020, but was unable to nail down a regular starting berth and the Moroccan left to join Galatasaray on loan in 2023.

7. Jurrien Timber - €40m (to Arsenal, 2023)

Jurrien Timber's €40m move from Ajax to Arsenal puts him in seventh place in Ajax's most expensive sales of all-time, although the fee could rise to €45m with add-ons.

The Netherlands defender broke into the Ajax senior team in 2020 and it wasn't long before he established himself as a key component of the first-team.

Capable of playing at full-back or centre-back, Timber's impressive ball-carrying skills and ability in possession immediately caught the eye and attracted interest from Man Utd.

However, Arsenal won the race for his signature in 2023, with the Red Devils not being able to fund a move one year prior.

6. Davinson Sanchez - €42m (to Tottenham, 2017)

Davinson Sanchez was signed as a youngster from Deportivo Cali, as part of a strategy that saw Ajax extensively scout South American clubs..

Not only did he perform well in the Netherlands, becoming an integral part of the defence and helping the club reach the Europa League final, he also fetched them a big fee upon departing.

Tottenham were interested in signing him after just one season of European football, and the Colombian soon moved to north London.

After a promising first season, Sanchez was unable to replicate his Ajax form and he departed the club to join Galatasaray for €9.5m in 2023.

5. Mohammed Kudus - €43m (to West Ham, 2023)

Mohammed Kudus was involved in one of the biggest transfer sagas of 2023, as Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd were all vying for his signature.

However, it was West Ham who won the race as the east London side paid €43m to sign the Ghana international.

Kudus left Ajax having scored 27 goals in 87 appearances for the club, including 18 in his final campaign.

4. Lisandro Martinez - €57.4m (to Man Utd, 2022)

Lisandro Martinez enjoyed a fantastic rise during his three years at Ajax, which culminated in being named Ajax’s Player of the Season in the 2021-22 campaign.

Capable of playing in defence and midfield, Martinez has compared himself to Italy legend and 2006 Ballon d'Or and World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro in the past.

Lisandro Martinez, Man Utd, 2021-22
© ProShots

His performances for Ajax generated interest from Man Utd and Arsenal in the summer of 2022, but it was the former who won the race, largely thanks to Erik ten Hag.

3. Matthijs de Ligt - €85.5m (to Juventus, 2019)

Matthijs de Ligt was a star in his first senior season, when he was just 17 years old, and his passion for Ajax shone through, as he became the youngest player to ever start a European final in 2017.

After that, he went from strength-to-strength, becoming club captain and leading them to the semi-final of the Champions League in the 2018-19 season.

He had interest from across Europe in 2019, and eventually chose to join Juventus in a deal that earned Ajax a big fee as he became their second biggest sale ever at the time.

De Ligt then left Juventus for €67m in 2022, joining Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

2. Frenkie de Jong - €86m (to Barcelona, 2019)

There’s a common misconception that Frenkie Jong came through the Ajax academy, when he was in fact signed from Willem II for a grand total of €1 (you read that right) and 10% of any future sales.

The deal worked a treat for both Willem II and Ajax; after a few years of starring performances, especially in the Champions League, De Jong was on the move.

He went to Barcelona for a then-club-record sale, but things haven’t always been that rosy, as evident by his 2022 transfer saga in which he was constantly linked with a move to Old Trafford.

1. Antony - €95m (to Man Utd, 2022)

Antony wasn't at Ajax quite as long as some of the others on this list, but he provided plenty of joy in his stay from 2020 until 2022.

Antony joined Man Utd in 2022
© ProShots - Antony joined Man Utd in 2022

A player of great flair, he thrived under Ten Hag and became the Eredivisie's biggest-ever sale when he moved to Manchester United in the 2022 summer transfer window.

He had some big moments to remember at Ajax, most notably in the Champions League, but his form has been poor since moving to Old Trafford. Antony scored four goals and provided two assists in his debut Premier League campaign.

The 10 biggest Ajax sales of all time

1. AntonyMan Utd€95m2022
2. Frenkie de JongBarcelona€86m2019
3. Matthijs de LigtJuventus€85.5m2019
4. Lisandro MartinezMan Utd€57.4m2022
5. Mohammed KudusWest Ham€43m2023
6. Davinson SanchezTottenham€42m2017
7. Jurrien TimberArsenal€40m2023
= Hakim ZiyechChelsea€40m2020
9. Donny van de BeekMan Utd€39m2020
10. Edson AlvarezWest Ham€38m2023

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