On the last day of the winter transfer window, Dutch giants Ajax attracted Brazilian starlet David Neres from Sao Paulo FC for a record fee, while selling Anwar El Ghazi to French club OSC Lille.
Neres will sign a deal in Amsterdam lasting 4.5 years until mid-2021. Ajax paid around 12 million euros (12.95 million U.S. dollars), which can rise to 15 million euros (16.19 million U.S. dollars) including bonuses. The transfer fee makes the 19-year-old winger the most expensive player ever bought by a Dutch club from a foreign side.
The former record was held by PSV, which signed Serbian striker Mateja Kezman for 11.3 million euros from Partizan Belgrade in 2000. Neres is the second most expensive Ajax signing ever, after Miralem Sulejmani, who arrived from Dutch club SC Heerenveen on a transfer fee of 16.3 million euros in 2008.
Neres is currently playing for the Brazilian under-20 squad at the U-20 South American Championship in Ecuador, and will come to Amsterdam when that tournament is finished. The winger scored three goals in eight matches for Sao Paulo FC in the 2016 season in the Brazilian Serie A.
“He is one of the biggest talents in South America,” said Ajax football director Marc Overmars in a press release. “I am glad he chose to play for Ajax.”
At the same time, Ajax sold El Ghazi to French side Lille OSC for around 9 million euros. The 21-year-old winger scored 24 goals in 74 league matches for Ajax. Under coach Peter Bosz, who started his reign last summer, El Ghazi was not a regular starter anymore.
Ajax also reached an agreement with English Football League Championship side Norwich City on Tuesday for the loan of 23-year-old left back Mitchell Dijks for the rest of the season, with an option to buy him in six months’ time. Reserve goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was on loan from Newcastle United, moved to Alkmaar for a new loan spell at AZ.
Ajax are currently second in the Dutch Eredivisie, five points behind league leaders Feyenoord. Feynooord did not do any transfer business on the last day of the window, while number three PSV only had minor changes with the arrival of defender Menno Koch back from his loan period at FC Utrecht, defender Simon Poulsen returning to Danish side Sonderjyske and Italian youth player Gianluca Scamacca moving back to Italian side Sassuolo.
(With inputs from Xinhua)