Ajax can ill afford to repeat the mistakes of the 2023 summer transfer window in 2024

It is safe to say that this season has been the ultimate disappointment for Ajax. Despite spending a reasonably large amount over the summer, the performances on the pitch have not been good enough. Since Erik ten Hag left to join Manchester United, none of the appointed head coaches have been able to build on his success. Alfred Schreuder struggled in the aftermath, with Johnny Hetinga having to come and try and rescue the season after the former was sacked. Maurice Steijn only lasted 11 terrible games before being replaced by John van’t Schip, who many do not see as an option for next season.

Yet when it comes to the squad, those in charge of transfers at the club can ill afford a repeat of what has turned out to be a terrible 2023 summer transfer window. The club were active, selling a number of key players and receiving, according to Transfermarkt, around €157m, of which they spent a reported €110m.

Of the five big signings over the summer, only two have really shown they can be players for the future. Josip Sutalo has started 16 of his 17 Eredivisie games since joining from Dinamo Zagreb as a replacement for Calvin Bassey.

Teenager Carlos Forbs has shown glimpses during his playing time, with three goals and four assists in 30 games across all competitions. Given his age, it would be harsh to judge the 19-year-old too much on this season, given how poor it has been for the club as a whole.

Yet the other three have not appeared to fit the team. Georges Mikautadze was returned to Metz in January. The Georgian forward cost around €16m from the Ligue 1 side in the summer, but only made nine appearances for Ajax before returning to France. Since returning, he has scored three goals and grabbed two assists in Ligue 1. Despite having a contract in the Netherlands until 2028, the sides agreed a purchase option in the loan deal.

The side also spent around €12.5m on Argentinian defender Gastón Ávila from Antwerp. The 22-year-old had been part of the side winning their first title since 1957, but the price and deal were certainly a surprise to many, considering he had hardly been a major part of the side throughout the season. It appears that Antwerp won the deal here, with Owen Wjindal now a key part of Mark van Bommel’s side in Belgium, with 17 appearances and a goal in the Pro League. Ávila, on the other hand, has only managed eight appearances for Ajax and is now injured, although he was sent to the U21’s. Like Mikautadze, he is under contract until 2028.

The final big signing of the summer was English forward Chuba Akpom from Middlesbrough. Compared to the previous two, he has been more successful. Costing around €12m, the 27-year-old has scored six goals in 15 Eredivisie games, although only appearing in the starting 11 three times in the league. Overall he has scored 10 goals for the club, with three in Europe and one in the KNVB Cup. However, it appeared that he would be returning to England in January but a deal did not materialise on deadline day. Like the rest, he is under contract until 2028.

Perhaps a new head coach will help some of these players live up to their price tags. Yet for the club as a whole, it should send a wake-up call to those in charge of recruitment. With Feyenoord 19 points ahead, and PSV just under 30, they can ill afford another poor summer and poor season.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

More European Football News