By 90Min
January 26, 2019

Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong has signed on the dotted line with Barcelona ahead of a summer move to the Camp Nou, setting Ernesto Valverde's side back €75m in their search for a new midfielder.

The 21-year-old also had an offer on the table from French giants Paris Saint-Germain but decided against joining the Ligue 1 champions, while Manchester City were also interested after missing out on Jorginho during the summer.

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Turning down the riches of clubs who are more or less backed by entire countries takes some doing, especially for a youngster who is yet to step foot in one of Europe's top five leagues.

But de Jong has bravely made the right call and it's one that could see him go down as one of Dutch football's greatest ever players when the time finally comes to hang up his boots in over a decade.

Going from Ajax to Barcelona might seem like the mother of all steps up, but de Jong should actually find fitting into the first team in Catalonia relatively straight forward.

Unlike at the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona fans are used to seeing their players graduate from the academy and progress through, something which de Jong has (sort of) already done at one of European football's most prestigious clubs.

The Netherlands international actually developed with hometown side ASV Arkel and then Willem II in Tilburg before securing his move to Amsterdam in 2015.

Whilst in the youth setup at Ajax, de Jong was crowned as the talent of the season during the 2016/17 campaign in the Eerste Divisie - the second division of Dutch football.

Since his early days as a promising teenager, de Jong has gone on to establish himself in Ajax's first team and now is now an indispensable part of their midfield, so much so that some of the club's best talents have struggled to register regular first team football.

The same thing can be said about the most successful of the 68 other Dutch footballers who have tried their luck in La Liga over the years.

De Jong is following in the footsteps of the likes of Johan Cruijff, Frank de Boer and Finnish playmaker Jari Litmanen by directly swapping Amsterdam for Barcelona, while other prospects from Ajax like Wesley Sneijder and Clarence Seedorf enjoyed success at Real Madrid.

The youngster might not be the only Dutchman in La Liga - future teammate Jasper Cillessen, Sevilla's Quincy Promes and new Celta de Vigo defender Wesley Hoedt are already in Spain - but de Jong is best suited out of them to become the face of Dutch football's new golden generation.

While Holland have been falling short on the international stage in recent years, Ronald Koeman's side have been able to build up a world class spine running through the middle of their squad.

At the heart of that is De Jong. While the 21-year-old has only made five first-team appearances with his national team, he's already cemented his place in Koeman's squad and he showcased his value best during their recent run in the UEFA Nations League.

De Jong isn't guaranteed a place in Barcelona's first team from the word go, but in Catalonia, he will have the chance to be part of a young side who are looking to establish themselves as a major force in Europe once again.

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Alongside the likes of Jean-Clair Todibo, Arthur, Ousmane Dembélé and Malcom, de Jong will have the platform to create a new legacy for Barcelona that will inevitably see out one of the biggest transitions in their history - the eventual retirement of Lionel Messi.

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