Ajax surprised everyone in the 2018/19 season running deep into the Champions League with dominant attacking football that hammered the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus
In the 2018/19 Champions League, Ajax blew through the competition, earning plaudits and envious glances alike as the players in red and white took Europe by storm.
Whilst Ajax once dominated under the legendary Johan Cruyff, the team has since become a minnow on Europe’s greatest stage.
Under Erik ten Hag, the Dutch side were fearless in their football and dominated games.
Across that season, the Ajax side scored 192 goals in 69 games, averaging 2.8 goals per game on average in a season they reclaimed the Eredivisie title as well.
The young stars of that team excited and enthralled, until they were knocked out by Tottenham thanks to a last gasp goal.
The team was gutted in the transfer window and now a number of the stars find themselves languishing abroad, only able to reminisce about those Champions League days.
Donny van de Beek
Donny van de Beek made the Ballon D’or shortlist of 30 after the 2018/19 season, such was his talent.
Yet since joining Manchester United for a reported £35million, the Dutch midfielder has not started three consecutive games.
Van de Beek has cut a frustrated figure and only featured on the periphery of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans.
He has not fit into United’s play style and struggled to get time behind the ever-present Bruno Fernandes.
His killer runs beyond the striker, which so often resulted in goals for Ajax, have been absent from Old Trafford as he sits on the bench.
Frenkie de Jong
If Van de Beek was worried he had it bad, at least his club have not capitulated in form, lost their talisman and run up huge debts.
Frenkie de Jong was a vital part of the 2018/19 Ajax side for the half-season he was there.
The press-proof midfielder would drop deep into the back-line to collect the ball and bring it out, allowing the team to build from there.
He would join the latter in January 2019 for £72million, never quite seeing out Ajax’s fantastic run to become a regular starter at the Nou Camp.
Even as the team went downhill, as the economic situation worsened, and performances slipped, the Dutchman continued to impress at his Spanish side.
Now, De Jong labours in a Messi-less Barcelona who have slumped to three defeats and one win in their last six games.
Matthijs de Ligt
Captaining your boyhood club in the Champions League age 19 years and 186 days old is a good achievement to have on your CV.
That’s exactly what Matthijs de Ligt did when he led his team out against Real Madrid on February 13th 2019.
Madrid had won the last three Champions Leagues back-to-back and had looked nigh impervious in Europe.
Ajax lost the home leg 2-1 to the Spanish giants and then travelled to the Bernabeu a month later for the second tie.
Not many predicted the 4-1 thumping the Dutch team dealt out, but they sent Madrid and all her superstars indignantly tumbling out of the Champions League.
The centre-back put in performances well beyond his years and earned a move to Juventus for £64million.
De Ligt had a tough start to life at Juventus but quickly became a key part of a title-winning team as injuries hit.
This season has not been smooth-sailing as Chiellini and Bonucci dominate the centre-back spots.
Now rumours swirl about interest from Chelsea who want to bring the indomitable 22-year-old to Stamford Bridge.
Whilst many of his former teammates now struggle for game time or silverware, Ziyech has arguably become the most successful.
A Champions League winner and now Premier League challenger under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, Ziyech has made it to the lofty heights the 2018/19 Ajax team never quite could.
Ziyech was an important member of the Champions League winning team, whether starting or making an impact off the bench.
However, the 28-year-old currently finds himself benched, and out of favour with Tuchel.
Despite a good season, Ziyech has “struggled to be decisive” in his coach’s own words.
With the arrival of Romelu Lukaku who slotted straight into the starting XI, Ziyech has found his opportunities limited at Stamford Bridge now.