Ranking the Top 10 Players to Have Represented Barcelona and Ajax

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 20, 2014

Ranking the Top 10 Players to Have Represented Barcelona and Ajax

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    Barcelona and Ajax come face-to-face in the Champions League this week in a clash that pits two of the most closely connected clubs in Europe against each other once more.

    The duo have shared a number of influential figures and, as a result, operate with similar footballing philosophies at their core.

    It is perhaps no surprise, then, that a number of players have switched between the two clubs over the last 20 years.

    Here, Bleacher Report takes a look at the top 10 players to have done so.

10. Richard Witschge

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    Unlike most of the Dutchmen on this list, Witschge bucked the trend by winning the European Cup with Barcelona rather than under Louis van Gaal at Ajax, moving to Spain earlier in 1991.

    However, he did win two Eredivisie titles with the Amsterdam club and helped reach the Champions League final for a second time in two years in 1995-96.

    Witschge spent a total of 10 seasons in Ajax colours across two spells as well as two years at the Camp Nou as the first Dutch player since Johan Cruyff 15 years prior.

    In total, he won 31 caps for Netherlands.

9. Edgar Davids

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    Edgar Davids may have spent only a few months at Barcelona, but his arrival helped rescue the Frank Rijkaard era.

    Barca had been struggling in mid-table prior to the Dutch enforcer's arrival, with Davids bringing missing energy to the midfield to lay the platform for the likes of Xavi to shine.

    His time at Ajax as a youngster was also incredibly successful. He won multiple league titles and played as part of the team that won the 1995 Champions League title.

    He would later return to Ajax for a two-year spell between 2006 and 2008.

8. Jari Litmanen

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    A four-time Eredivisie winner with Ajax in the 1990s, Finland icon Jari Litmanen was another of Louis van Gaal's players to follow their manager to Spain and join Barcelona.

    However, the attacking midfielder's spell in Catalunya proved less successful as he struggled to hold down a first-team place following a steady first season and failed to win a league title.

    At Ajax, though, he was simply outstanding and played a major role in the club's 1995 Champions League triumph, scoring six goals in the process.

    A wonderfully gifted player, he was as good as anybody in world football in his day.

7. Marc Overmars

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    Marc Overmars may have failed to win a La Liga title during his time in Spain, but he enjoyed four successful years in Catalunya from a personal perspective.

    His earlier spell at Ajax, where he is now in a directorial role, was much more successful in terms of trophies. He won three league titles and a European Cup before moving on to Arsenal.

    A pacy left-winger, Overmars was one of the most respected players of his time and played an important role for both Ajax and Barcelona.

    His 86 international caps in a strong era for Dutch football are testament to his abilities.

6. Ronald de Boer

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    Another of the many players to play for both sides in the 1990s, Ronald de Boer—like his brother Frank—was a league title winner with both clubs.

    Through the early and middle part of the decade, De Boer was a major part of the Ajax setup, winning five Eredivisie titles as well as the 1995 Champions League.

    A right-winger, De Boer lasted just two seasons in Spain before joining Rangers, making a total of 54 appearances for the Catalan side.

    During his time at Ajax, De Boer was twice named Dutch Player of the Year for his performances.

5. Patrick Kluivert

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    A fantastic striker for both clubs, Kluivert was influential in two Eredivisie title successes and a La Liga triumph in the 1990s.

    Part of the Louis van Gaal generation, Kluivert was one of the best all-round forwards of his era, leading the line with pace, power and precision throughout his spells at both sides.

    Later, of course, he would follow Van Gaal to become assistant manager of the Dutch national team at the 2014 World Cup.

    While still a teenager, he was part of the Ajax squad that won the 1995 Champions League.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Had he spent longer at either club, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have been higher on this list. However, his spells at Ajax and Barcelona lasted just four years and one year, respectively.

    Zlatan won league titles in both countries, sealing success twice in his time in Netherlands and winning a World Club Cup in the colours of Barcelona.

    While his greatest successes came in the colours of Inter Milan, AC Milan and PSG, he is fondly remembered in Amsterdam—the place he truly made his name in European football.

    Sadly, his time in Barcelona was less successful despite coming at the peak of his career.

3. Frank De Boer

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    Now manager of Ajax, former Netherlands captain Frank de Boer was one of many Dutch players to play for both clubs under manager Louis van Gaal in the 1990s.

    De Boer won five Eredivisie titles as a player before making the switch to Spain and adding a La Liga crown to his collection. But for a phenomenal Real Madrid side, it could have been more.

    His greatest success as a player came in the Champions League, with Van Gaal guiding Ajax to consecutive finals in 1995 and 1996. De Boer was central to that side, winning the title in the first of his two finals.

    Now hugely successful as head coach of Ajax, the possibility remains that he could end up coaching both clubs at some point in his career.

2. Michael Laudrup

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    A four-time La Liga winner and European Cup winner with Barcelona, Michael Laudrup was one of the best players in world football in the early 1990s.

    Later in his career, he would also spend a season in Holland with Ajax and add an Eredivisie title to his impressive collection of honours, scoring 11 league goals in the process.

    While his move to Real Madrid caused ructions in Spain, there can be no doubting the incredible impact he had at Barcelona under the management of Cruyff.

    He is rightfully remembered as perhaps the greatest player in Danish football history.

1. Johan Cruyff

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    The biggest connection the two clubs have comes courtesy of three-time Ballon d'Or winner Cruyff, a former player and manager with both clubs.

    One of the outstanding players of his era, Cruyff's greatest achievements in Spain came as a manager when he laid the basis for one of the most successful eras in Barcelona's history by implementing his footballing philosophy at the club.

    However, as a player, he also won La Liga in Blaugrana colours while winning eight Eredivisie titles and three European Cups with Ajax.

    A true legend in both Amsterdam and Barcelona, Cruyff has had an unprecedented impact on the development of the two sides over the past 30 years.