On 18 August, 1996, Juan became the first ever Argentinian to make an official appearance playing for Ajax 1. The debut was not a resounding success. Although Juan was in the opening line-up, he and his fellow Ajax players could not prevent PSV winning the very first match in the Johan Cruyff Shield 3-0 (previously, it had been known as the Supercup and PTT Telecom Cup). The then brand new ArenA had been officially opened just four days earlier. They lost the opening exhibition game against AC Milan. Sadly, the first proper match in the multifunctional stadium also saw a disappointing result.
Three weeks after the match against the Eindhoven team, the Amsterdam crowd was introduced to a new Argentinian. Ivan César Gabrich was his name. The fact that the striker lives on in the collective memory as the asset 'who never fell down' (quote from then Ajax coach Louis van Gaal) says it all. Gabrich did actually hit the ground more often than his trainer, teammates and fans would have liked, and did not exactly bring home the bacon in the Amsterdam area, to say the least. Originally intended to stand in for Patrick Kluivert, he eventually played eleven matches, but only lasted one season at Ajax. The forward was ultimately a little short on technical and tactical skills to meet the demanding standards and ethos at Ajax. Gabrich did not score once while a striker at Ajax. Based partly on those poor statistics, he is fated to be forever known as a classic bad buy.
Juan lasted a season longer and also played more times (21), but the Amsterdam adventure was no outright success for him, either. The youth international was recruited in 1996 as the - prospective - successor to Danny Blind. Also hampered by injury, Juan never managed to fill those big boots. The colourful and tough defender, who could also hold his own in midfield, played his last game in the 1997/98 season. The following season Ajax loaned him out to the Argentine Racing Club, after which he returned to the ArenA briefly in the summer of 1999. In Spain, Juan subsequently played for Getafe and Toledo. Eight years later, the man who became world champion with the Argentinian under 18s saw his career come to an end. The promising start of his career ultimately did not see the follow-on he might have wished for.
Fortunately, the Argentinians who came after Juan and Gabrich fared somewhat better. Mauro Rosales was invaluable on the right wing between 2004 and 2007. His 91 appearances for Ajax fell just short of earning him a place in the 100 Club, the hall of fame for the most capped Ajax players. Darío Cvitanich effectively relieved his fellow countryman in 2008 and was particularly valuable as a replacement. The highlight of his 41-match career with Ajax was the 2011 championship. Ajax won the national trophy for the thirtieth time, earning the coveted third star. Cvitanich had to watch the legendary championship game with against FC Twente from the bench. He did parade with the newly-won championship shield soon after, however.
Ten years after Cvitanich's first appearance saw Nico Tagliafico make his debut. Tagliafico immediately won the hearts of the Ajax fans and was a real favourite with the crowds throughout his 169 appearances. It all started on 21 January 2018 in a home game against Feyenoord (2-0). After four-and-a-half years at Ajax, the left-back left for Olympique Lyon in the summer of 2022.
The Argentine, who won the World Cup in Qatar last winter, was part of the successful squad that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in the 2018/2019 season. With 16 goals, three Dutch championships, two KNVB Cups and one Johan Cruijff Shield, Tagliafico is one of the most successful Argentines to play for Ajax.
Last but not least, Ajax also recruited defenders Lisandro Magallán and Lisandro Martínez in 2019. With varying degrees of success. Magallán made his debut on 24 January 2019 and eventually played nine official matches for Ajax 1. He won the Dutch title and the Johan Cruijff Shield with Ajax in 2019. The defender has also been loaned out to Alavés, Crotone and RSC Anderlecht. Magallán's contract was terminated at the beginning of 2023.
Martínez came over from Argentina's Defensa y Justica. Driven, loyal and tough as nails: three words that typify the former Ajax player. He made his debut against PSV on 27 July 2019 for the Johan Cruijff Shield and was immediately rewarded with a prize. Ajax won 2-0. After starting in midfield with varying degrees of success, his time at Ajax then became extremely successful. Martínez, who had won his spot in the starting eleven at centre-back, formed a rock-solid centre-back partnership with Jurriën Timber from that point on.
Including superb Champions League matches against Borussia Dortmund and impressive numbers in the Eredivisie, Martínez was voted Ajax Player of the Year in 2022. After 120 matches, two Dutch titles, one KNVB Cup and one Johan Cruijf Shield, Martínez followed Erik ten Hag to Manchester United.
The most recent player to sign a contract in Amsterdam is Lucas Ocampos. The winger has been loaned from Spain's Sevilla FC since the summer of 2022. Ocampos has made six appearances for Ajax 1 so far. They included two UEFA Champions League games and four league matches.
Gerónimo Rulli is number nine. The goalkeeper came into this world on 20 May, 1992 in La Plata, Argentina. His debut appearance was for his youth club, Club Estudiantes de La Plata, before leaving for the Uruguayan Club Deportivo Maldonado in 2014. There, the goalie was soon sent to Real Sociedad on loan.
Rulli was a regular for the Basque team for two years, earning him a transfer to Manchester City. However, the Argentinian was soon back between the posts at Real Sociedad once again. After one season in between for Montpellier in France, Rulli moved to Villarreal in 2020.
Once in Spain, he soon saw victory in the UEFA Europa League in 2021, much to Manchester United's cost. In the winning penalty shoot-off, Rulli himself scored from the spot, and managed to block fellow goalie David de Gea's all-deciding penalty kick. His international career has also been successful. Rulli appeared for Argentina when they were crowned world champions at the recent World Cup in Qatar.
Rulli is the second player to sign for Ajax while world champion. Márcio Santos did the same. The Brazilian came to Amsterdam in 1995, having been with world cup winners Brazil in 1994.