Ajax knew last summer it was only a matter of time until one of Europe’s wealthiest sides lured away Matthijs de Ligt. The fact the Dutch club kept hold of the centre-back for the 2018/19 season – one in which they reached the Champions League semi-final – was an unexpected bonus.
De Ligt is a generational talent. The complete package at just 19 years old. It’s why Juventus have paid close to £70million to sign the defender. Replacing him is almost impossible without spending an exorbitant sum of money.
But succession planning is what Ajax do better than most. When one young star moves on another is brought in either through intelligent scouting or via the club’s famed youth system.