De Jong: Footballer in body and soul

De Jong: Footballer in body and soul

Phillip Cocu, Ronald de Boer, Frank de Boer, Richard Witschge and other big names in Dutch football express their admiration for the new Barça star

Where better to go looking for opinions about Frenkie de Jong than his native Holland? We tracked down a series of former coaches and opponents, some of FC Barcelona’s toppest Dutch players from yesterday and members of the press in the Netherlands to collect their opinions about Barça’s new signing.

As one would expect, the responses were all very positive indeed!

Jan van Loon, director of the academy at Willem II, when De Jong played as a youth

"If it wasn’t for the passion that football generates in him, he would never have reached this level. He was very small kid, much smaller than the others of his age. But Frenkie had patience. He was too little to take giant steps forward, but I remember how understanding his family were about the situation and he never lost the will to train.”

"He was slight but that meant he had to work on his mind, to read what other players were doing and avoid physical contact, because he would always come off worse.”

Jos Bogers, one of his youth coaches at Willem II

"He was small, but it was never a trauma. He knew his physique wouldn’t be a problem because he was quick-witted, and always one step ahead of his opponents.”  

Daniel Dwarswaard, who covers Ajax for Algemeen Dagblad newspaper

"De Jong was like the other players in that Ajax team. He makes no excuses, doesn’t moan about the ref or complain about hard tackles. He just worries about himself. If Frenkie hasn’t played well, he has no qualms about going in front of the media and admitting it.”

Former Barça man Richard Witschge, now part of the Ajax structure

“To be honest, I don’t remember a single game last season when Frenkie played badly. There’s never a day when there isn’t a smile on his face.”

"But he is a lot stronger than he looks. He wins one-on-one battles and has improved a lot in defensive aspects.”

Alfred Schreuder, member of last season’s coaching staff at Ajax

“Frenkie can play in whatever position he likes. First because of his condition and second because he loves what he does. He’s always dying to improve.”

Phillip Cocu, former FC Barcelona player and former PSV manager

“We wanted him, and he very nearly came to PSV Eindhoven, but he preferred to go to Amsterdam"

"It is hard to compete with a player like him, who is so well positioned, has such great vision, but who also has the ability to dictate the pace of the game, to go on game-breaking runs, or slow it down so you get a break. He is a very complete player and has exactly the kind of style that will work well at Barça"

"Especially because of his mentality you can immediately see that he’s not the kind of player to show off – everything he does is for the good of the team."

Frank de Boer, former FC Barcelona player and former Ajax manager

“I don’t think it was hard for him to decide to come to Ajax. It went with his way of playing the game.”

"He is ready to take risks because he’s so in control of his surroundings. He gets the ball and looks to see where his team-mates are. That’s a virtue that very few players have, typical of players like Busquets, Xavi or Iniesta and means that De Jong is also becoming a very special kind of footballer.”

"I’d say he lacks the physique to be a defender. I see him more as a midfielder, but he could certainly play at the back now and then.”

Ronald de Boer, former Barça player

“A lad who is impressively brave when he calls for the ball, and does things that are never seen. He has great passing vision, but he also has an amazing change of pace. He’s so unpredictable. I remember when he was in the youth team with players like Abdelhak Nouri, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek. There were people who went to watch them play instead of the first team!”

Pol Llonch, Catalan midfielder now at Willem II

“It’s hard to play against him because he moves so much. He is in every phase of the game; he goes back into defence to collect the ball and distributes it so well. “

"When you bang into him you soon realise that he does go in strong. He’s very determined. He times his tackles especially well, when he has to slide in for the ball, he always goes in at exactly the right time.”

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