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The date was 23 January 2019. FC Barcelona announced that they had secured the signing of one of the most promising youngsters in European football, Frenkie de Jong of Ajax. But though the transfer was made official, the player was not to arrive at the Catalan club until the end of the season, on July 1 at the age of 22. The rest is history.
De Jong played his first competitive game on 16 August 2019 away to Athletic Club, at the same stadium that he and the team will be going to on Thursday for the cup quarter final. Hopefully the result will be better than the one five years ago, when Barça lost 1-0 on the opening day of the league season, De Jong playing all 90 minutes.
He has been one of the most important players in the team over the half-decade that followed, reaching 200 appearances against Unionistas in the cup last week. He is currently the Dutchman with the sixth most games played in the blaugrana jersey, and has won the Spanish Super Cup, Liga and Copa del Rey in his time here.
In what are now 201 games, De Jong has scored 16 goals and given 19 assists, although those aren't his main duties in the team. His role is more that of midfield playmaker, one in which he excels and every one of the managers he has played under has considered him a fundamental part of their plans, naturally including Xavi Hernández, to whom he has often been compared.