Ajax, Monaco, Porto: 10 iconic teams that were 'destroyed by the transfer market'

FC Porto won the Champions League in 2004

The transfer market has proven to be an unforgiving place throughout the history of football.

It’s an arena in which the very biggest clubs in the world are totally dominant and that’s resulted in a number of iconic teams being split up down the years.

If a squad of players achieves unexpected success in one of Europe’s top leagues, it’s pretty much certain that the continent’s elite will flex their financial muscle to acquire the in-form stars.

It’s an occurrence so regular that Spanish publication Marca were able to name 10 legendary teams that were ‘destroyed by the transfer market’.

Poor ol’ Ajax – a club famed for bringing players through their youth system and selling them for enormous transfer fees – feature three times.

So let’s take a look at the players that each of the 10 teams lost during their ‘destruction’…

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Kylian Mbappe‘s AS Monaco

2017: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) & Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea)

2018: Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool) & Joao Moutinho (Wolves)

Mbappe with Monaco

Monaco pipped Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title in 2016/17 and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League the same season.

By the start of the 2018/19 campaign, the team was unrecognisable from the one that took European football by storm.

Johan Cryuff’s Ajax

1973: Johan Cruyff (Barcelona)

1974: Johan Neeskens (Barcelona)

1975: Johnny Rep (Valencia), Horst Blankenburg (Hamburg) & Arie Haan (Anderlecht)

Ajax in 1973

When Cruyff jumped ship after winning Ajax’s third European Cup on the trot in 1973, a number of the club’s other star names followed.

This was the Amsterdam club’s first destruction and as we stated previously, it was far from their last…

Borussia Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League winners

1997: Paulo Sousa (Inter Milan), Paul Lambert (Celtic) & Karl-Heinz Riedle (Liverpool)

1998: Stefan Klos (Rangers)Steffen Freund (Tottenham) & Jorg Heinrich (Fiorentina)

Lambert with the CL trophy

Dortmund defeated Zinedine Zidane’s Juventus in the 1997 Champions League final to win the competition for the first and only time in their history.

Something of an exodus followed, although the German club still managed to reach the semi-finals of Europe’s biggest competition the following season – which is pretty good going.

Marseille’s 1993 Champions League winners

1993: Marcel Desailly (AC Milan), Abedi Pele (Lyon), Alen Boksic (Lazio) & Franck Sauzee (Atalanta)

1994: Didier Deschamps (Juventus), Rudi Voller (Bayer Leverkusen) & Basile Boli (Rangers)

Marseille with the CL trophy

Marseille were the first winners of the Champions League after it was rebranded and the team that achieved that feat was full of legends.

The big names were quick to leave, though. Even more so when the club was relegated to Ligue 2 in 1994 because of a bribery scandal.

Jose Mourinho’s Porto

2004: Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Deco (Barcelona), Pedro Mendes (Tottenham), Carlos Alberto (Corinthians) & Derlei (Dynamo Moscow)

Porto with the CL trophy

After defying all the odds and winning the Champions League in 2004, Porto’s overachieving side was ripped apart by Europe’s elite.

Most of the best players left before the start of the 2004/05 season, as did Mourinho, who joined Carvalho and Fereira at Chelsea.

Pavel Nedved’s Lazio

2000: Alen Boksic (Middlesbrough), Matias Almeyda (Parma) & Sergio Conceicao (Parma)

2001: Juan Sebastian Veron (Manchester United), Pavel Nedved (Juventus) & Marcelo Salas (Juventus)

2002: Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan) & Hernan Crespo (Inter Milan)

Crespo & Nedved

Just look at those names. Is it any wonder Lazio won the Scudetto in 1999/2000?

The Italian club’s sales between 2000 and 2002 saw them bring in a lot of money, but they’ve never come close to replicating the success of that era since.

Palmerias’ brilliant team from the ’90s

1994: Mazinho (Valencia), Zinho (Yokohama) & Cesar Sampaio (Yokohama)

1995: Antonio Carlos Zago (Kashiwa) & Roberto Carlos (Inter Milan)

1996: Rivaldo (Deportivo la Coruna) & Flavio Conceicao (Deportivo la Coruna

1997: Djalminha (Deportivo la Coruna)

Rivaldo & Carlos

The Brazilian side delivered an impressive showing against Real Madrid in 1994 and after that, the rest of the world took notice.

By 1997, most of the key men had left, with three of them joining Deportivo – who went on to win the Spanish league title in 1999/2000.

Marco van Basten’s Ajax

1987: Marco van Basten (AC Milan), Frank Rjikaard (Sporting Lisbon) & Sonny Silooy (Racing Paris)

Van Basten in action

The second Ajax team to fall victim to the ruthless transfer market. Cruyff was the Dutch side’s manager in 1987 and he had to watch as his star men embarked on new adventures across Europe.

Then in 1988, Cruyff himself left Amsterdam to become manager of Barcelona. You do have to feel for Ajax…

Red Star Belgrade’s 1991 European Cup winners

1991: Robert Prosinecki (Real Madrid)

1992: Dejan Savicevic (AC Milan), Vladimir Jugovic (Sampdoria), Darko Pancev (Inter Milan), Sinisa Mihajlovic (AS Roma) & Miodrag Belodedici (Valencia)

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Red Star beat Marseille on penalties in the final of the 1991 European Cup and a number of the high-quality players that were vital to that success remained with the club for one more year.

But in 1992, Spain and Italy came calling and the big names simply could not turn down the offers from the various clubs.

Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winners

1995: Clarence Seedorf (Sampdoria)

1996: Edgar Davids (AC Milan), Michael Reiziger (AC Milan), Nwankwo Kanu (Inter Milan), Finidi George (Real Betis)

1997: Marc Overmars (Arsenal) & Patrick Kluivert (AC Milan)

Ajax in 1995

The third and final Ajax team that was decimated by the transfer market was arguably the best of the bunch.

Despite beating AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League final, many of the Dutch outfit’s finest – including Kluivert, the scorer of the final’s only goal – opted to join the Italian side.

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