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Frenkie De Jong: I always thought Messi was the best player

The soon-to-be Barça midfielder talked about the Champions League quarterfinal and Johan Cruyff comparisons

Real Madrid v Ajax - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Frenkie De Jong has successfully recovered from an injury and is expected to play for Ajax in the Champions League quarterfinals against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, and Barcelona fans cannot wait to see the Dutch midfielder in action again as his move to Camp Nou inches closer.

The 21-year-old spoke to UEFA’s website about the quarterfinal against Juventus, his football upbringing, Lionel Messi and comparisons with the late great Johan Cruyff. It’s a great interview. Check it out:

On Champions League season and quarterfinals

It has been great for us so far. We played three preliminary [qualifying and play-off] rounds of course. We won them all, and that was also our goal. Then we got to the group stage, in which we showed what we are made of. We made it to the quarter-finals, and the highlight of it all was doing that by eliminating Real Madrid. We really showed everyone what we can do, and hopefully we can show that again against Juventus.

How do we feel? Really motivated, just like the other teams in the quarter-finals. We are of course the new kids on the block. But I think we showed everyone that we are playing at the same level as the other teams, and hopefully against Juventus we can show everyone that we are just as good as them or even better.

On football education and Lionel Messi

Ajax stand for good football, well played out from the defence towards the goal, creativity, audacity. I had an excellent education at Willem II and enjoyed playing there. People there helped me to develop, and the same goes for Ajax. You are free to play and they correct you whenever necessary. But I think you should be able to show your creativity because that is one of the greatest qualities of Dutch football.

I always thought [Lionel] Messi was the best player. As a young player I was more of a No.10 who played right behind the strikers. A bit lazy, with lots of possession. Now I am more of a holding player who does most work in the build-up phase.

On Johan Cruyff comparisons

[People compared us] because we have a similar way of walking or running. It’s all a bit out of context. I don’t think they really compare me to how good he was or how good I can become, or what my influence is, because he is much greater than I am or ever will become. I would never want to compare myself to Cruyff.

My strongest points? It’s difficult to say, but I am someone who always wants to have the ball and who prefers to play with the ball at his feet.

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