Amidst the insane FIFA World Cup fixtures, the footballing world is having its fair share of transfer rumours. And like always, the rumours are crazy and quite unbelievable. Naturally, Real Madrid are involved with Cristiano Ronaldo and a rumoured move to Juventus grabbing the limelight.
Barcelona on the other hand, are taking things quite differently. With Arthur set to join imminently and the club set to clear much of the clutter, another player has caught the Blaugrana eye and he is none other than Dutch startlet Frenkie de Jong. Plying his trade for Dutch giants Ajax, he is a player to watch out and an interesting option to buy. So let’s take a closer look at the 21-year-old.
De Jong is a rising star in Dutch football. His ascent began when he joined Ajax in 2015 from Willem II. His exploits with the reserve team won him the Jupiler League’s ‘Talent of the Season’ award.
With his style of play already lauded by pundits and critics alike, he was promoted to the first team and cemented his position in the team. Within a season as a first-team player, he helped the team reach the final of the UEFA Europa League. Although they lost to Manchester United, it became a perfect platform for De Jong to show what he’s got and that he did.
He featured for Ajax 22 times in the league last season, amassing seven assists. He has represented Netherlands in almost all junior levels and waits for his senior call-up.
Style of play
Frenkie de Jong is a curious case in terms of position of play. Although he has the instincts of a midfielder, he has featured predominantly as a centre-back, paired alongside Matthijs De Ligt. In his 16 appearances as a starter, he featured 11 times at the back and only five times as the anchor.
He has made a more significant impact from the bench though: he has registered five assists from his six appearances as a substitute compared to a paltry two as a starter, that too as a centre-back. This shows that he can play the role of a ‘super-sub‘ in times of need and also has an eye on his attacking team-mates by supplying them with pinpoint passes.
In terms of his style, he is a natural dribbler and likes to hold the ball. He has a highly intricate and delicate way of passing which makes him an ideal fit for the club. His insane stat of a staggering 91.4 per cent passing accuracy proves the point. The way he touches the ball, it becomes evident that he is up to something: he likes to take daunting runs down the middle, similar to Kevin De Bruyne and Paul Pogba and contribute to the attack.
With a good record of around two key passes recorded per game, he can be a game changer as well. His other contributions include a penchant for long shots, dribbling past opponents and absorbing attacking pressure. The way he twists and turns past players in a gentle yet graceful movement, creates and finds spaces to exploit with his pinpoint passing is sure to remind the Blaugrana faithful of a certain former La Masia and Barcelona legend. Guess who?
As a centre-back he plays a rather clean game, has a knack of winning the ball back from opponents and an impressive stat of around two tackles per game, which shows the versatility he offers.
Where would he fit in at Barcelona?
Due to his versatility and his ability to be an anchor as well as a regista, Frenkie de Jong could initially feature from the bench. He can play where Ernesto Valverde wants him to, but Barcelona would lose a midfielder of immense quality if he played at centre-back. But let’s not lose our focus on this, that’s talk for another day. Maybe he can be a back-up for Sergio Busquets due to his style and the way he handles the ball and can even start in some matches of lesser importance.
In short he’s definitely a great player, has immense potential and quality but is in need of more minutes and experience. Frenkie de Jong is a player who fits the profile of a Barca midfielder and possibly, won’t just be a sitter. At 21 years of age, he’s got the world at his feet but with Ajax holding out for a huge fee, it remains a test of resolve for Barcelona to convince the Dutch side to let him go.