Richard Buxton: Relish Ajax's shooting stars
Exodus at over-achieving club is certain, whether or not their fairy-tale run continues
Above all others in football, Ajax Amsterdam continue to embody the spirit of James Dean.
They live fast, die young but leave behind a beautiful reminder.
A 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in their Champions League semi-final, first leg yesterday morning (Singapore time) was another reminder of their eternal fearlessness on the biggest stage.
Erik ten Hag's side have become only the third team to win all their away ties in the last-16, quarter-final and semi-final stages of Europe's premier club competition.
Stacked against Bayern Munich (2012/13) and Manchester City (2017/18) - the other teams to have done so - it is a significant achievement.
On limited resources, the Eredivisie champions-elect continue to hold their own with a burgeoning crop of players that must be savoured in the little time they remain together.
Winning the Champions League this season threatens to be the final act for Ajax's latest golden generation to hail from its fabled De Toekomst production line.
Midfield general Frenkie de Jong is already heading to Barcelona this summer.
Captain Matthijs de Ligt, 19, who became the youngest captain in the Champions League semi-finals, after Cesc Fabregas skippered Arsenal 10 years ago at the age of 21, is also expected at the Nou Camp.
It is only a matter of time before the Amsterdam club's door is being beaten down by their free-spending peers for the likes of David Neres, Kasper Dolberg and Donny van de Beek.
Parallels with the class of mid-1990s that reached successive finals in this competition are unavoidable.
Within two years of Louis van Gaal steering Ajax to the pinnacle of European football, nine of the 16 players in the squad that triumphed in Vienna were on the move.
Van Gaal was poached by Barcelona, while a second wave of departures followed in 1999 as Jari Litmanen, Edwin van der Sar and the de Boer brothers were all lured abroad.
History repeated itself in the wake of their run to the 2017 Europa League final.
Davinson Sanchez, Jairo Riedewald and Davy Klaassen all opted for English Premier League adventures with varying degrees of success while, 12 months later, Justin Kluivert left the Johan Cruyff Arena for the Serie A.
Erstwhile coach Peter Bosz was also poached by Borussia Dortmund.
Around the same time, another team brimming on the back of European exploits found itself similarly decimated.
Barely a year after reaching the Champions League semi-finals, Monaco saw no fewer than seven members of their Ligue 1-winning squad depart.
Kylian Mbappe defected to Paris Saint-Germain while Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Benjamin Mendy all left for the EPL.
Their demise was confirmed the following summer when Thomas Lemar joined Atletico Madrid, Abou Diallo switched to Dortmund and Fabinho went to Liverpool.
Ajax, however, are unlikely to bow out as the principality club did. It is simply not their way.
Like a neutron star, a new generation will emerge from the shell of De Toekomst's latest supernova once the current cohort has reached its natural conclusion and subsequent disbandment.
Living up to the legacy of a team that has already walked into the lion's den twice to dethrone Real Madrid and nullify the personal whirlwind that is Cristiano Ronaldo may prove easier said than done.
Breaking a 31-year wait for a Dutch treble would up the ante further.
Cruyff's parting words to his Barcelona players before a historic European Cup triumph in 1992 were to "Go out and enjoy it". The same currently applies to another of his former clubs.
Relish this Ajax team for everything they are. It might take a while before the starlets are aligned again.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen (Sissoko 39), Trippier (Foyth 80), Eriksen, Wanyama, Rose (Davies 79), Alli, Llorente, Moura
AJAX: Onana, Veltman, de Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico, van de Beek, Schone (Mazraoui 65), de Jong, Ziyech (Huntelaar 87), Tadic, Neres
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