Former Rangers midfielder Ronald de Boer believes his former club are capable of emulating Ajax’s recent success in the Champions League.
The ex-Dutch international thinks both Glasgow clubs are capable of doing much better in Europe, but they have to invest more money in grassroots football in order to get success on the pitch:
“I played in Scotland for four years so I know how passionate the fans are and there are Celtic and Rangers fans all over the world. It’s a great starting point to have such an enormous fanbase but at basic youth level the set-up, from amateur to pro level, is better in Holland.”
“I feel the organisation is better in Holland. Every village has its own youth team and competition so the youngsters are out on almost every park all over Holland. It’s easy to say Rangers and Celtic should be doing more in Europe on the back of this Ajax run but you have to remember that it’s the first time we’ve reached this stage in 22 years.”
“We come from countries that face similar challenges in terms of trying to bridge the financial gulf to the big clubs but that doesn’t stop you creating good young talent and that has to be the focus for our nations. You can’t buy 11 great players. You have to invest in your own homegrown players.”
The likes of Ross McCrorie have come through the academy in recent years, but it would be fair to say that Rangers have relied on buying in talent from other Scottish clubs, as well as abroad, rather than developing their own.
De Boer was himself part of a golden generation that came through the Ajax academy in the nineties, and these things do tend to happen in cycles.
Still, the organisation that Ajax have at youth level almost guarantees a good standard of player coming through their youth ranks, and it remains to be seen whether Rangers could ever build such a comprehensive academy system.