The signs are positive for Barcelona new boy Frenkie de Jong
Background photo: Arria Belli CC BY 2.5
Watching young talents make it to the top is always extremely refreshing to see. We've witnessed such instances happen aplenty during our lifetime(s). Yet, the way some top talents rise to stardom so explosively still manages to capture our attention and take our breath away. Take, for instance, Dutch midfielder, Frenkie de Jong...
The 22-year-old has quickly transformed from a promising starlet into a famous superstar. His name is now well-known to every football lover out there; especially those that witnessed his breathtaking 2018/19 Champions League tournament. The talented midfielder has earned his right to play football at the highest level - courtesy of his eye-catching displays for Ajax over the last three seasons.
De Jong was a huge revelation throughout the campaign. Pulling the strings from the centre of the pitch, the Dutchman was highly influential as Ajax claimed both the Eredivise title and the KNVB Cup - while also reaching the semi-finals of the aforementioned Champions League tournament. If not for a cruel last-minute Tottenham Hotspur winner, who knows, they could have gone all the way...
His performances against Real Madrid in the two legs of Ajax's Champions League last sixteen encounter earned him praise aplenty, only quickening his rise to stardom. De Jong immediately attracted the interest of European powerhouses - who came one after the other to explore the possibilities of prising him away.
Despite the arrival of tempting offers from various angles, the playmaker was relaxed, yet, decisive and smart in picking his next club. Eventually, he decided to follow the footsteps of his national heroes - Johan Cruyff, Patrick Kluivert and Ronald Koeman to mention just a few - by sealing a transfer to join La Liga giants FC Barcelona.
He was signed by Barca on January 23rd halfway through the season - but was allowed to finish the term with Ajax who received €75million to part ways with the midfielder. Following the conclusion of the campaign, de Jong officially became a Blaugrana, unveiled on July th4 as he took a massive step forward in his career.
De Jong is a typical Barcelona midfielder; tactically adept, technically sound and vastly intelligent. He is highly aware of space and time management, which makes it easy for him to run riot from the centre of the pitch.
In terms of player traits, De Jong is an accomplished passer of the ball; his long and short balls are always on point. The 22-year-old is always confident, composed and displays tremendous maturity whenever he finds himself in possession. Creating space for his teammates with his brilliant turns, dribbling in tight areas and pushing the ball forward to launch threatening attacks, the Dutchman epitomises the perfect definition of an all-round midfielder.
De Jong always wants the ball. He is a specialist when it comes to keeping possession; resisting presses of different kinds and exerting his dominance in the centre of the pitch. With his tactical flexibility and the ability to read the game perfectly from any angle, he can feature anywhere across the midfield.
Much more can be said about the Dutchman. He shares many similarities with three of Barcelona's greatest midfielders - Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta - while also drawing the obvious with the trio. As a matter of fact, Barca already have high hopes for their new signing and he was granted the opportunity to showcase what he's got in a pre-season match against Chelsea on Tuesday.
The Dutchman grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Coming on for youngster Ruqui Puig in the second half, he slotted into Barca's midfield with great ease; dictating play, picking out precise passes and displaying an enormous understanding of the club's system.
During his 45-minute stint on the pitch, De Jong attempted 42 passes and completed 100% of them, to go with many other flashes of his brilliance. This inspired newspaper, Marca, to sing his praises after the game, adding that he could be a huge threat to Busquets' position on the team already.
Although he is seen as a player for the future, De Jong's magnificent displays actually suggest he could be the man for the present. Barca has surely unearthed a rare gem with their capturing of the mega-talented midfield maestro.