Dutch international Frenkie De Jong this summer has become the latest Netherlands export to sign for Barcelona amongst much excitement and expectation. The promising midfielder joined from Dutch side Ajax in a deal worth up to €86m, and there is already a certain degree of expectancy on the player to perform, who despite being only 22 years old, has already gained notable experience in professional football. He joins Barcelona as last seasons player of the year in the Eredivisie and Barça supporters will fully expect him to prove his worth.
The player himself was recently unveiled at the Camp Nou with a glittering ceremony. Around 20,000 supporters were present to see their new hero perform ball tricks, sign autographs and participate in a special training session with children from the club’s Escola soccer school. Even former team Ajax got in on the act to pay tribute to their former player by hiring a bus to tour the city with the message, ‘Barça, enjoy the future like we do,’ to show their appreciation for one of the best modern-day talents to pull on the white and red jersey of the Amsterdam club.
The young Dutchman follows the well trodden path to Catalonia of previous Dutch legends such as Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman, Marc Overmars, Frank and Ronald De Boer and Patrick Kluivert. A rich history which unite Barcelona and the Netherlands, and the two are forever interlinked from the innovative era of Cruyff and the visionary of his fabled dream team - a point that De Jong referenced in his presentation:
“Holland and Barca have always had a good connection, and Barca and Ajax have a very similar way of playing, with the philosophy of Johan Cruyff,” said De Jong. “Ajax and Barca want to play in the same way, and that’s great for me.”
De Jong is a modern day hybrid player who can play not just in the deep-lying midfield role, being the creative metronome of his teams attacks, but as an accomplished defender too - breaking up play and carrying the ball through the lines to build up possession from deep, another of his virtues, demonstrating his box-to-box prowess. This versatility will aid Barcelona’s development and continue their philosophy as kings of possession play.
The transition for De Jong should be relatively smooth given the similarities between his former and current clubs. He will also be able to learn first-hand from the likes of midfield maestro Sergio Busquets on how to adeptly play the Barca way.
The eyes of the footballing world, certainly in Catalonia, will be on De Jong to see how he fulfils his talents on the biggest scale of all. Soon the flying Dutchman will be spreading his wings and primed to fly in La Liga.