Dutch football giants Ajax announced a five-year partnership with Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F on Monday that will attempt to build the best youth academy in China.
The multi-million-euro deal is the latest in a series of football link-ups between Europe and China, as the Asian superpower — under football fan President Xi Jinping — throws money at developing football in the country.
China wants to eventually host — and maybe even win — the World Cup.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) and Chinese teams have been forging ties with clubs and federations across the globe, particularly in Europe, to improve the quality of their homegrown players.
Ajax are world-renowned for their youth system, and Guangzhou R&F want to tap into that expertise, launching the new programme with a group of coaches from the Amsterdam club.
Edwin van der Sar, the former Manchester United, Ajax and Juventus star and now Ajax chief executive, said the link-up will be a boon to the Dutch club too.
“Youth is the core asset of our club and we are delighted that we can leverage our knowledge with an international partner like R&F,” he said in a statement.
“It is well known that for a club like Ajax, it is hard to grow in the current European football industry. With initiatives like ACA (Ajax Coaching Academy), we create opportunities to make alternative steps forward.”