Welcome to our second update in the Ajax Academy series. In the previous part (you can read it here) we saw how our youngsters developed five years into their future.
In this part, we will look at how the players are getting on by 2031, 15 years into the future. Will any of the Ajax Academy graduates have progressed into World-Class talent?
Above are screenshots of the players in 2021. Let’s move on now to see how the players develop as they move into and beyond their prime.
The Academies | 2026-31
- Jairo Riedewald
Club in 2021: Manchester City
Club in 2026: Juventus
Club in 2031: Arsenal
Just one season after the previous update, Jairo Riedewald moved to Italian giants Juventus for £26.5M. He went on to play for the Italians for 4 years before making a surprise return to Manchester City.
World-Class centre-back Riedewald had one season back at the Etihad before being bought by Arsenal for £33M where he has played over 120 league appearances in four years so far.
The 34 year old will be nearing retirement and can look back on a successful career with several top European clubs, and Arsenal.
- Matthijs de Ligt
Club in 2021: Dortmund
Club in 2026: Dortmund
Club in 2031: Dortmund
Our second player to be classed as World-Class is centre-back Matthijs de Ligt. Back in 2021 he had become a first-team regular at Dortmund and has remained so for the next ten years.
In those ten years he never once played fewer than 30 league games in a season and averaged at least 7.28 per game every season, peaking in 2027/28 with an average rating of 7.71.
Will he remain at Dortmund to end his career?
- Carel Eiting
Club in 2021: Ajax
Club in 2026: AZ Alkmaar
Club in 2031: AZ Alkmaar
Carel Eiting left Ajax in 2023 for AZ Alkmaar as a result of the lack of first-team opportunities back in Amsterdam.
Eiting has stayed with AZ since and played over 180 league games for the Eredivisie side. Unlike Matthijs de Ligt, however, he hasn’t fared very well with his average ratings.
His best season came in 2029/30 where he averaged 6.93 per game but he has suffered a couple of nightmare-ish seasons averaging below 6.60.
- Donny van de Beek
Club in 2021: Besiktas
Club in 2026: FC Nantes
Club in 2031: Rostov
Oh dear Donny van de Beek. The Dutch central-midfielder hasn’t had a very successful career in terms of his personal performances. If you thought Eiting was bad then you may want to look away now..
In 2024/25 van de Beek average 6.46 from 29 league games for FC Nantes in Ligue 1. FC Nantes finished in 10th that year so it wasn’t as if they were losing every game either.
Since 2021 he left Besiktas for FC Nantes where he spent six seasons before moving to Rostov in the Russian Premier Division.
- Che Nunnely
Club in 2021: Ajax
Club in 2026: Olympique Marseilles
Club in 2031: Chelsea
Since our previous update in 2021, Che Nunnely had many good seasons with Ajax before leaving for French Ligue 1 club Olympique Marseilles for £23M. He spent three seasons in France with OM before moving on once more.
Chelsea paid just £12.25M for the winger in 2029 to bring him to England. Nunnely has unfortunately not been able to break into the first team as a regular for Chelsea, instead making just a handful of league appearances.
- Abdelhak Nouri
Club in 2021: Stuttgart
Club in 2026: Red Bull Salzburg
Club in 2031: Panathinaikos
Abdelhak Nouri ended 2021 at Stuttgart and remained at the Bundesliga club until 2025. He wasn’t able to become a first team regular though and was sent out on two different loan spells. He spent one year in France with AS Saint-Etienne before dropping down to the German second tier with Braunschweig.
Red Bull Salzburg signed Nouri on a free in 2025 and he went on to play an important role in the Austrian Premier Division side over five seasons.
In 2029 Nouri left for Panathinaikos for £195K which is where he is currently applying his trade. His is, however, out injured with a damage achilles tendon. Could this signal the end of the Moroccan’s career in football?
- Noa Lang
Club in 2021: Sparta
Club in 2026: FC Utrecht
Club in 2031: Slovan Liberec
As we saw in the previous part, Noa Lang left Ajax for fellow Eredivisie side Sparta. He had two good seasons before moving on to Jupiler League side FC Eindhoven.
Two seasons later he moved once again, this time to Eredivisie club FC Utrecht. In just over five years with Utrecht Lang made just under 100 league appearances. He left on a free in 2029 to move to Slovan Liberec of the Czech Republic.
His best season so far came in his first with FC Eindhoven where he scored 9 goals and made 4 assists.
- Justin Kluivert
Club in 2021: Ajax
Club in 2026: PSV
Club in 2031: PSV
Justin Kluivert hasn’t quite had the same impact as a player as his father. But he has become a loyal member of the PSV side after leaving Ajax. He spent a year in Turkey with Konyaspor as a loanee from Ajax before leaving for PSV in 2023.
Kluivert has made over 250 appearances for PSV in his 8 seasons at the club. He has played more as a winger than striker throughout his career and this show with his goal return, scoring just 33 league goals for PSV.
- Kaj Sierhuis
Club in 2021: Cardiff City
Club in 2026: Sheffield Wednesday
Club in 2031: Sheffield Wednesday
Kaj Sierhuis is the final player we will look at in this post. He has turned out to be the only striker in this series as Justin Kluivert has been used mostly as a winger.
Kaj left Ajax for Cardiff, via Manchester United, in the previous part. After one season in the Championship with Cardiff following relegation, Sierhuis was bought by Norwich for £5.25M.
Despite a distinctly average season, Sheffield Wednesday offered £10M to buy the Dutch striker. The offered was accepted and Sierhuis spent the following 8 seasons with Wednesday, scoring 73 goals in over 250 league games.
The Ajax Academy
All Time Career Appearances (Goals). Previous Ranking (from 2021)
- Matthijs de Ligt 629 (33) (2)
- Jairo Riedewald 540 (13) (1)
- Justin Kluivert 505 (76) (7)
- Kaj Sierhuis 480 (142) (8)
- Che Nunnely 408 (60) (6)
- Noa Lang 383 (46) (3)
- Abdelhak Nouri 380 (21) (4)
- Carel Eiting 372 (12) (5)
- Donny van de Beek 306 (14) (9)
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Thank you very much for reading the second update in our new series ‘The Academies’.
There will be one final part of the Ajax Academy mini-series which will take a look at each individual and how their careers ended up as they retire from the game.
Do you have any suggestions for future clubs in this series? Comment them below!