AFC Ajax 2016-21| The Academies | Football Manager 2017

The Ajax Youth Academy, based in Amsterdam, Holland, is one of the most world-renowned footballing academies for producing high potential players.

Several world-class footballers progressed through the Ajax academy. Johan Cruijff, Dennis Bergkamp, Edgar Davids, Edwin van der Sar… The list could, and does, go on.ajax

But for us FM’ers, we really want to know how the current crop of Ajax youngsters will develop in FM17. Will there be another Clarence Seedorf or Patrick Kluivert to emerge from Amsterdam?

The following post, and the first in The Academies series, will take a look at some of the most promising youngsters to have come through the Ajax youth system in real-life. Lets see if any of them can become world-class talents in FM17.

The plan for this series is to take a look at several top football academies and to see how their best youngsters progress in FM17. To do this, we’ll split each club into three separate posts.

  1. The first post will look at each player and how they develop by 2021
  2. The second post will see how they have progressed by 2031
  3. The third and final post will take a look at the career of each individual after retirement

The Academies | Ajax 2016 – 2021

The Players

  • Jairo Riedewald

Jairo Riedewald 16-21

Jairo Riedewald has developed into a very good centre-back, currently applying his trade for Manchester City.

He left Ajax in January 2017 for Liverpool for close to £20M before joining Man City two-and-a-half years later for £25M (which could rise to £42.5M).

He has yet to become a first team regular in his career. He made 22 league appearances in the most recent 2020/21 season for City, the most league appearances in a season since departing Ajax.

  • Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt 16-21

Matthijs de Ligt could well be the star of this crop of Ajax youngsters. The centre-back has developed very well over the last five years, particularly with his physicals.

Matthijs spent the 2017/18 season on loan in France with Olympique Lyon, featuring as a regular in the centre of their defence. He was then signed from Ajax by Dortmund for £24M and has remained at the club since.

He has put in three seasons of brilliant performances. In the 18/19 season he averaged a rating of 7.60 over 27 matches. He followed this by averaging 7.49 in 32 matches before having his best season so far in 20/21 by averaging 7.68 over 30 league matches.

  • Carel Eiting

Carel Eiting 16-21

Carel Eiting remains in Ajax and has just become a first team regular in the most recent season. The defensive midfielder has spent four seasons away from Ajax through four different loan spells and has returned a better player.

Carel played over 110 league matches for his loan clubs. He was first loaned by Eredivisie sides Excelsior (16/17) and FC Twente (17/18) before moving to the Slovakian First Division with Trencin (18/19). His fourth loan club was PEC Zwolle (19/20) back in the Eredivisie.

Will Eiting remain an Ajax player throughout his career or will he venture off elsewhere?

  • Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek 16-21

Donny van de Beek has moved around a fair bit in the last five years, ending up in Turkey with Besiktas. The central midfielder never won a place in the Ajax first-team and was sent out on loan before leaving permanently.

He has developed into a fairly well rounded player and could make a success of himself with his resolute personality.

He had unsuccessful loan spells with sc Heerenveen and PL side QPR before leaving Ajax for Spanish Segunda Division side Valladolid. He spent one year in Spain, making 40 league appearances, before leaving for Turkish side Besiktas.

  • Che Nunnely

Che Nunnely 16-21

Che Nunnely has yet to make his full Ajax debut but remains at the club five years on. He, like Carel Eiting, has had four loan spells away from Ajax and has clearly developed very well.

Che played for the Ajax reserve team Jong Ajax in the second tier in Holland in 16/17, before departing on his various loan spells. Nunnely was a first team regular for all of his loan spells, beginning with Willem II (17/18), Groningen (18/19, 20/21) and NEC Nijmegen (19/20).

With the experience he has garnered will Ajax finally give him an opportunity in the first team?

  • Abdelhak Nouri

Abdelhak Nouri 16-21

Abdelhak Nouri is the only player to have switched his nationality, opting to play for Morocco instead of Holland despite having been born in Amsterdam.

He, too, has left Ajax and moved abroad. He first left on loan in 2016/17 season by playing for Club Brugge. He returned to Ajax but left for two more loan spells over the next two years, first to Rapid Wien and then to Stade Malherbe Caen.

Nouri departed Ajax in a permanent move in 2019, moving to Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga for a small £1.3M.

  • Noa Lang

Noa Lang 16-21

Noa Lang made just one first team appearance for Ajax in four seasons before leaving for £190K to fellow Eredivisie side Sparta.

He did spend time away from the club on loan deals. First, he went to MVV Maastricht and then followed this by FC Den Bosch. In 2018/2019 Lang went to his future club Sparta on loan.

All three loans were to clubs in the second tier of Holland and therefore he perhaps was unable to develop to his potential playing against weaker opposition.

  • Justin Kluivert

Justin Kluivert 16-21.gif

Justin Kluivert, Ajax and Holland legend Patrick Kluivert’s son, could have a bright future ahead of him. By 2021 he remains an Ajax player but has yet to make a significant impact in the first team.

He has spent time at various cubs through four different loan spells. Kluivert made over 30 appearances for Roda JC (17/18) and played alongside Carel Eiting with Slovakian side Trencin (18/19). He has also had spells with Vitesse (19/20) and most recently Bursaspor (20/21).

Can Justin emulate his father and become a footballing legend? He will need to push on from a steady start to be able to do so.

  • Kaj Sierhuis

Kaj Sierhuis 16-21

Our final player to be reviewed is forward Kaj Sierhuis. The ambitious striker made an early move to Manchester United after being bought for £1.7M in 2017.

Kaj then spent three loan spells away from Old Trafford with FC Ultrecht (17/18), Wigan (18/19) and Toulouse (19/20) but never made a first team appearance for United.

Sierhuis has completed his first season with Cardiff after a £3.5M move but will be very disappointed to have been relegated from the Premier League.


The Ajax Academy: All Time Career Appearances (Goals)

  1. Jairo Riedewald 170 (4)
  2. Matthijs de Ligt 169 (12)
  3. Noa Lang 158 (15)
  4. Abdelhak Nouri 152 (6)
  5. Carel Eiting 149 (5)
  6. Che Nunnely 149 (5)
  7. Justin Kluivert 121 (28)
  8. Kaj Sierhuis 115 (36)
  9. Donny van de Beek 110 (5)

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Thanks for reading our first instalment of The Academies. Keep your eyes peeled for the second part of our Ajax update as we take a look at how the youngsters have progressed and developed by 2031.

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