Barcelona are taking a keen interest in Frenkie De Jong and will move for the Ajax star in the summer as replacement for the departed Andres Iniesta.
Replacing Andres Iniesta was always going to be a tall order for Barcelona. But, it seems they have zeroed in on the perfect option to do so, with Spanish publication Don Balon claiming that Ajax star Frenkie De Jong is someone who is on the club’s radar to fill the void left by the legendary Spaniard.
In fact, the report iterates that the players within the Barcelona camp, including Gerard Pique, seem to be liking the idea of the Catalans pursuing the young Dutch midfielder, which is only positive news for the board as they plan to go ahead with their plan to sign De Jong.
Frenkie De Jong was snapped up by Ajax from Willem II and was sent back on loan to his previous club for half-a season in the 2015-16 campaign. But, it was the 2016-17 season wherein the midfielder managed to break into the first-team squad at Ajax and has since established himself as a key figure for the Dutch giants.
The 21-year-old was a regular fixture for Ajax in the Eredivisie before succumbing to a Malleolar injury, which kept him out for the last half of the campaign. While he was mainly deployed in a centre-back role, De Jong is a natural midfielder and the suitors would be impressed with his versatility and comfort in secondary positions.
Barcelona have been linked with the player since January, with the Catalans reportedly keeping a track of three Ajax stars – Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Kasper Dolberg.
Indeed, all the three positions need reinforcements come summer, but the midfield has to be a priority given a lack of tooth, especially with the departure of Iniesta. Beyond the legendary midfielder, Valverde only has the likes of Denis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Andre Gomes as the options, with Gomes and Rakitic being linked to moves elsewhere while Busquets and Barcelona seem to be in a contract standoff, according to reports.
With Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho both having more impact either out wide or in relatively advanced positions, the midfield needs one or two additions in order to equip Barcelona with enough depth to compete on all fronts in the upcoming season.
With De Jong also capable to take the field as a holding midfielder, he would also be an option to substitute Busquets in the lineup whenever Valverde feels necessary. The players seem to have given their agreement to the Barcelona board to pursue the Dutchman and the 21-year-old would also love a step up from Ajax.
This looks like a deal that will happen mostly, be it in the summer or upcoming transfer window(s), depending on Barcelona’s urgency to sign midfielders and their success in pursuit of other targets.