Frenkie de Jong is not the kind of name (at least, not yet) to be recognised at the sound of it. And, for a 21-year-old, who has five national caps with Netherlands and currently plies his trade in Eredivisie (Dutch football league), this youngster still has a long way to go to establish himself.
That's generally the impression when a young and relatively inexperienced footballer comes to mind. But, this youngster is a class apart.
One of Europe's most sought-after young players, De Jong had some of the biggest football clubs in the world chasing him with big bucks in the offering. Defending Premier League champions Manchester City were on their toes to secure his services, while Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain were willing to break the bank for the youngster.
But, after multiple interests and weeks of negotiations, the Dutch wonderkid eventually answered the call of Spanish football powerhouse Barcelona who outsmarted other clubs by splurging a staggering 75 million euros (a little over 605 crore in rupees), plus a further 11 million in variables for the next five seasons (through to 2023-24).
So what really makes this youngster worth all that cheddar? Here's the answer.
Touted as one of Europe's most promising midfield talents, the 21-year-old has proved himself as a polyvalent player with an excellent reading of the game and ability to provide that 'killer pass'. Honing his skills in the famed Willem II academy, De Jong had spent just a year in Tilburg when he caught the eye of Ajax who secured his signatures in 2015.
However, he was loaned back from Amsterdam to his former team to ensure he got enough playing time to fully reach his capabilities and develop as a player. The Dutchman, then, returned to Ajax to lead its reserve team in the Jupiler League. A year on from then, he earned first call-up for first team duty, and appeared for the final minutes of the Europa League final against Manchester United in 2017. From there on, De Jong became a regular face and eventually an essential part of the Ajax setup.
ðµð´ Ajax talent Frenkie de Jong will join Barcelona in the summer on a five-year-deal...
â¹ï¸ All you need to know about the new @FCBarcelona midfielder ððð
To further bolster his resume, De Jong has lost possession with only 9.7 per cent of his touches in the Eredivisie since his debut - a lower percentage than any other player (minimum 500 touches) in that period. On the other hand, the youngster boasts of an impressive 91.8 per cent take-on (an attempt to regain possession) success rate and 91.6 per cent pass accuracy to strengthen his case.
Frenkie de Jong, Ajax 18-19.
Barcelona purchased one hell of a player. That price is eyewatering for a player from the Eredivisie, but given how many super clubs wanted him, it's not a huge surprise. pic.twitter.com/KRaXoWiOmf
Of the 177 players to have attempted more than 25 dribbles, De Jong has a better dribble success rate (86.2 per cent) than any other player since the start of the 2017/18 Eredivisie season. Apart from that, De Jong has not lost a single game in his last 10 matches (for both club and country).
Right footed and strong in the one-on-one duels, the Dutch wonderkid can play either as a defensive or attacking midfielder. His immaculate vision and natural ability to find the right pass in crunch situations is what makes him the perfect choice as a central playmaker. Other than that, he has the acceleration, craft, control, tactical nous and sharp decision-making abilities. All the necessary skills that'll make him fit into the Blaugrana midfield like hand-in-glove.
"With the arrival of Frenkie De Jong we add talent, youth and Barça style to our sporting project. We are convinced that he will be a key part of our team for years to come," Josep Maria Bartomeu said after his deal. And, for all this young gun brings to the table, we couldn't agree more with the Barca president.