Two-time European Cup winner Andrea Pirlo has likened Barcelona-bound midfielder Frenkie de Jong to himself.
The 22-year-old Dutch international enjoyed a stellar campaign playing for Ajax and is now looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Lionel Messi and company.
The rise of Frenkie: Five things to know…
- De Jong joined Ajax from boyhood club Willem II in August 2015.
- He’s since gone on to make 89 appearances for the senior team, registering six goals and 13 assists.
- De Jong played an instrumental role in Ajax reaching a first Champions League semi-final since 1997.
- His performances attracted Barcelona’s attention who signed him for £65.3m.
- He’s the 20th Dutchman to join the Catalan giants.
Barça, sensing a potential world-class player, jumped ahead of his many suitors and parted with £65.3m to bring him to the Camp Nou.
De Jong signed a five-year contract in January ahead of moving this summer, but before swapping Amsterdam for Catalunya there was a small matter of winning a 34th Dutch championship and playing Champions League football.
Subsequent performances in Europe against Real Madrid and Juventus enhanced his burgeoning reputation and made even more observers sit up and take notice. One such individual transfixed by the Dutchman is Pirlo, who can see similarities between the Dutchman’s playing style and his own.
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“At the moment, for me, Frenkie de Jong is the best,” he told the Daily Mail. “He has the personality, the technique, everything to play in this position.’
“It’s the vision,” he added when asked if he reminds him of himself. “He knows the field and the movement of the other players. He is a very good player.”
De Jong joins a Barcelona team reeling after a disappointing end to their 2018/19 campaign.
Although the Blaugrana secured back-to-back championships they were humiliatingly dumped out of the Champions League after squandering a 3-0 semi-final first leg lead against Liverpool.
Still, there was a chance to record a consecutive double, but Valencia in the final put paid to that by eking out a slender 2-1 win.
De Jong will have a fight on his hand to cement a regular starting berth in Barça’s midfield. Sergio Busquets, despite growing criticism, remains one of the club’s leaders and there’s also Arthur, Ivan Rakitic, Carles Aleñà and Arturo Vidal. But there’s no doubt the youngster is backing himself to make an immediate impact.