Celtic should use Ajax as inspiration to get back to the glory days

Celtic fans

Ajax are playing in the Europa League final next week and Celtic can take inspiration from them to achieve the same.

Celtic fansCeltic fans

On 25 May, Ajax will face Manchester United in the Europa League in their first European final since finishing runners-up in the Champions League back in 1996 - a year after they had won it.

A lot has changed since that team, including Edwin van der Sar, Marc Overmars and Patrick Kluivert, lifted the trophy - most notably the shift in financial strength towards clubs in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and even France.

Four-time European Cup winners, Ajax are no longer among the continent's superpowers because they simply don't have the same sort of money. That is something that Celtic will be able to relate to.

The reigning Scottish champions have not had quite such a long gap since their last European final, losing 3-2 to Porto in the UEFA Cup in 2003, but they are certainly far from the Celtic sides that won the European Cup in 1967 and finished as runners-up three years later.

Yet Ajax have adapted the way the club is run for long-term success and in the short-term it has already seen them reach this Europa League showdown with United.

Ajax's Bertrand Traore celebrates scoring their first goal with Davy KlaassenAjax's Bertrand Traore celebrates scoring their first goal with Davy Klaassen

The Dutch side now focus on developing young talent, with 10 of the 11 players who started the 4-1 victory over Lyon in the semis, for example, aged 24 or younger and with an overall average age of less than 22-years-old.

They cannot hope to hold onto their best talent, but selling them for huge fees - like the £29.6m they received from Napoli for Arkadiusz Milik last summer - can be reinvested to make the club stronger. The aforementioned Overmars is now a scout looking for that talent, while Van der Sar is using his Old Trafford experience to find new commercial ventures as the club's CEO.

Like Ajax, Celtic will struggle to keep their best players when the riches of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga come calling, but they can put in place a system to start ensuring growth over time so that they can still compete.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch