Ajax host Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday night and it’s fair to say that the two European giants have plenty in common.
The clubs share a history and philosophy which begun with a transfer that would eventually spawn a dynasty. In all, there have been 22 players to play for both clubs. Take a journey through football history with the comprehensive list.
The man who started it all, was the main man as Ajax won three European Cups on the bounce and then moved to Barcelona in 1973, where he won La Liga in his debut season. Later a successful manager at both clubs, it was at Barca that he laid down the template that would see them dominate European football.
Another member of Holland’s golden generation, Neeskens left Ajax for Barcelona a year after Cruyff and though he would not win the honours that he bagged in Holland, he became hugely popular with the Barca fans.
The son of Johan was on Ajax’s books between 1981 and 1988 before moving to Barcelona when his father became manager. He played 56 times for the club before an ill-fated transfer to Manchester United in 1996.
Witschge was signed from Ajax by Cruyff and the defensive-midfielder won two league titles and a European Cup medal in his two seasons at the club.
The first player to make the opposite journey, Laudrup had five successful years at Barcelona as one of the key members of Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ before a controversial move to Real Madrid. A spell in Japan followed, before Laudrup finished his career with a Dutch championship at Ajax.
Roger also made the journey from Barcelona to finish his career at Ajax. A product of the youth ranks, the midfielder was somethings of a bit-part player at Barca but still managed to win two leagues and a Cup Winners’ Cup medal.
At Ajax at the same time, was Gabri. The Spanish international joined the Dutch giants on a free transfer in 2010, after seven largely successful seasons in Barcelona’s first-team squad.
Bogarde seemingly tried his best not to play much during his career, but his spells at Ajax and Barcelona were amongst his most active. The defender left Ajax for AC Milan, only to leave after just three games and join up with Louis van Gaal at the Camp Nou.
Kluivert also made the trip from Ajax to Barca via Milan. Winning two Eredivisie titles and the Champions League at Ajax, an unsuccessful season at Milan was followed up by six seasons at Barcelona, in which he scored 120 goals in 255 games.
This is becoming a running theme. Reizeger started his career at Ajax, where he won the Champions League, spent a year at AC Milan and then spent seven seasons with the Catalans.
Frank de Boer
The classy defender and current Ajax manager, was a legend as a player, spending a decade at the club, before finally joining Barca. He would stay there for five seasons, winning a La Liga title.
Ronald de Boer
Frank’s twin brother Ronald joined Barcelona at the same time, in a joint move worth £22m. The attacking midfielder did not prove to be such a success at Barca however, and left for Rangers after two seasons.
Another undisputed talent who achieved less at Barcelona than he did at Ajax, was the Finnish playmaker Litmanen. After spending his best years at Ajax, Litmanen only played 32 games for Barca.
The lightning-fast winger enjoyed five fruitful seasons at Ajax before joining Arsenal. Three seasons later he was off to Barcelona in a £25m deal, making him the most expensive player in Dutch football history.
A key member of Ajax’s Champions League winning side, Davids played for Barcelona for six months towards the end of his career, helping them to turn a struggling season into a relatively successful one.
The Spanish defender was a member of Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona team and started in the 2006 Champions League final. In 2008 he joined Ajax, where he would win a league title in 2010-11.
The well-travelled superstar made his name at Ajax, scoring 48 goals in 110 games to earn a 2004 move to Juventus. After five seasons in Italy with Juve and Inter, Zlatan moved to Barca. Despite scoring 22 goals for the club in 46 games, a clash of personalities between Ibrahimovic and Pep Guardiola, saw the Swede quickly leave for AC Milan.
Zlatan’s best buddy, the Brazilian full-back Maxwell has played with him at four clubs, including Ajax and Barcelona. He won league titles in both countries and a Champions League at Barca.
The least renowned player on this list, the winger failed to establish himself at at Barcelona and was loaned to Ajax in 2013, where he would play just five games.
Hailed as another Barcelona wonderkid, Bojan never quite cut it at the Camp Nou and after spells at Roma and AC Milan, the Spanish winger spent a season on loan at Ajax, helping them to the Eredivise title.
The Belgian defender left Ajax for Arsenal in 2009 and looked set to establish himself in the Premier League, only to lose his place in the team in recent seasons. He joined Barcelona in a surprise move this summer for £15m, but has yet to play for the club.
The final player on this list is also the most expensive. Scoring an incredible 111 goals in 159 games for Ajax over three and a half seasons, Suarez moved to Liverpool, where his performances/persistent biting lead to a £75m move to Barcelona.