Frenkie de Jong
De Jong playing for Ajax in 2019
|Full name||Frenkie de Jong|
|Date of birth||12 May 1997|
|Place of birth||Gorinchem, Netherlands|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|2015||→ Willem II (loan)||1||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13:56, 7 December 2019 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 08:57, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Frenkie de Jong (born 12 May 1997) is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Spanish club Barcelona and the Netherlands national team. He is known for his strong defensive and playmaking abilities.
De Jong began his professional career at Willem II in 2015. He transferred to AFC Ajax for a fee worth €1 a year later. The fee was symbolic and offset by a sell-on clause. At Ajax he established himself as one of the best young midfielders in Europe, after winning a domestic double and reaching the Champions League semi-finals. De Jong won the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup, was Eredivisie player of the season, and was an instrumental part of Ajax's first European Cup semi-final appearance in 22 years, in a breakthrough 2018–19 season.
De Jong made his senior international debut for the Netherlands in September 2018. He became a starter in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, in which Netherlands finished runners-up. He agreed to sign for Barcelona after a deal was finalized in January 2019. He signed for the club in July, 2019, for a fee worth €75 million. De Jong was selected to the 2019 FIFA FIFPro World11 and was one of two Dutch players to feature in it for the first time in five years.
A product of Willem II, de Jong played through the entire youth system at the club. On 10 May, 2015, De Jong made his Eredivisie debut against ADO Den Haag, two days before his eighteenth birthday. He was substituted in the 68th minute for Terell Ondaan in a (1–0) home win.
At the beginning of the season, on August 22, 2015, Ajax purchased De Jong. He signed a four year contract, for a symbolic €1 fee which included a 10% sell-on bonus. On August 23, 2015, he was loaned back to Willem II until December 31, 2015. During this time he made one substitute appearance in an Eredivisie match against PEC Zwolle.
2016–17: Player development
For the first two years at Ajax, De Jong was in and out of the first team squad. After returning to the club in January, 2016, de Jong made 15 appearances in the 2015—16 Eerste Divisie for Jong Ajax. He primarily played in the centre of a three-man midfield and scored two goals. The following year, he was awarded the 2016–17 Eerste Divisie's Talent of the season award for his performances with Jong Ajax for whom, he made 31 first team appearances and played as a central, and defensive, midfielder.
He made his senior debut against Sparta Rotterdam coming on, in the 88th minute, for Lasse Schöne. In total, he made four senior appearances for Ajax, and scored one goal against Go Ahead Eagles, in the 2016—17 season. He started one game, came off the bench thrice, and was an unused substitute in 13 games. He also made his European debut and made four substitute, and three bench, appearances, in the 2016–17 Europa League. He came off the bench in the 82nd minute against Manchester United in the final. It was Ajax's first European final in 21 years.
2017–19: First team regular
Aged 20, he made 26 appearances for the first team. Primarily he featured as a center-back, in a back four, alongside national teammate Matthijs de Ligt due to the departure of Davinson Sanchez. He also played in a three-man center-midfield. He recorded 8 assists in 22 league appearances and received two yellow cards. Towards the end of the season he was injured—tendonitis, syndesmotic ligament tear, hairline crack in calf bone—and missed three months. De Jong made two substitute appearances in the 2017–18 Champions League qualification, as Ajax lost on away goals against OGC Nice (3–3) in the third qualifying round.
In the 2018–19 season he primarily played in the middle of a three-man midfield. De Jong was the Eredivisie player of the month in December (2018) and February (2019)—in which he completed 354 of 390 passes and made 53 ball recoveries. Later that month he received praise from Rafael Van Der Vaart, who said De Jong was among the best players in Europe with the ball at his feet. It is unclear wether during, or prior the beginning, the campaign he rejected an offer from Tottenham Hotspur, saying the "moment wasn't right," and wanted to play a full season in his preferred position at Ajax.
De Jong achieved success, and widespread recognition, during the 2018–19 season and led Ajax to their first domestic double (league and cup) since the 2001–02 season. Ajax wrestled with PSV Eindhoven all season for the league, and finished the last five weeks at the top of the table. He made 51 total appearances and starred in Ajax's first leg (0–1) win over Tottenham Hotspur in the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League semi-final at White Hart Lane—in which De Jong had the most touches by any player on the pitch (87) and an 86.2 percent pass completion rate. It was the first time Ajax made the tournament semi-final since 1997. The team eliminated Juventus (3–2 on agg.) in the quarterfinals and Real Madrid (5–3 on agg.) in the round of 16. Ajax lost the home leg (2–3) and were knocked out on away goals. De Jong was selected to the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League squad of the season and voted the tournament's midfielder of the season.
On 23 January 2019, La Liga club Barcelona announced the signing of de Jong on a five-year contract, effective from 1 July 2019, for an initial fee worth €75 million. He made his competitive debut on 16 August, 2019, in a 1–0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao. De Jong had transfer discussions with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City before ultimately opting for Barcelona.
De Jong has primarily played as a central midfielder. In his first 12 league appearances, he has scored and assisted, once each, in the same game—against Valencia CF on September 14, 2019, at Camp Nou. His first assist was to Ansu Fati in the 2nd minute. He set up Fati with a low cross from the right. Fati then assisted for de Jong's first goal, in the 7th minute. Fati cut a low cross in from the left which de Jong scored from just outside the six-yard box.
During his youth career, de Jong made 22 appearances in the Netherlands youth setup. On 10 July, 2015, he made his debut for the Netherlands U19 team against Germany U19. On 6 September, 2018, de Jong replaced Georginio Wijnaldum at half-time to make his senior international debut in a friendly (2–1) win against Peru. Fifteen minutes into his debut, he assisted a goal for Memphis Depay by retrieving possession high-up the pitch and setting up the forward. He later on scored the winner, and had a 100 percent pass competition rate (21 passes) in the opposition half. He soon became a regular starter for the Netherlands in the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League and the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Style of play
Frenkie has described himself as a player "who likes to have the ball a lot, and play possession." A versatile player, de Jong can function as a regista, defensive midfielder, central midfielder, holding midfielder, box-to-box midfielder and centre back. He has been lauded for his combination of defensive stability and playmaking ability. He often partnered Matthijs de Ligt at centre-back, at Ajax. As a centre back, he abstained from committing fouls, showed great positional sense, and won possession frequently. In this more defensive role, his performances led to comparison with former German sweeper Franz Beckenbauer and likened his tendency to progress forward in possession, and ability to play-make, from defense to the German legend.
—Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi on De Jong
Much like his contemporary and partner in the Barcelona midfield Arthur, de Jong's vision has been praised along side his ability to dribble in narrow spaces, control over possession, and decisive passing. A natural passer, de Jong had a 91.4 percent pass accuracy, in all competitions, during his last season with Ajax. An extraordinary game-reader, he often makes offensive runs through the middle.
His other attributes include a penchant for long cross-field passes, creating space, and absorbing attacking pressure. His close control, accuracy, work rate, and movement has drawn comparisons with Andrés Iniesta and Johan Cruyff. At Barcelona, he has primarily played on either side of a three-man central midfield. This has led experts and former players regard him as a player with "Barça DNA" who was "born to play for Barcelona."
De Jong was born in Gorinchem and grew up in Arkel, a town in South Holland, where he started playing football at a young age. Since he started playing professionally, De Jong has chosen 21 on his shirt as a tribute to his grandfather, who was born on the 21st of April.
- As of match played 7 December 2019
|Jong Ajax||2015–16||Eerste Divisie||15||2||—||—||—||15||2|
- 1 Includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches.
- 2 Includes Johan Cruijff Shield and Eredivisie playoffs matches.
- As of match played 19 November 2019
- As of match played 6 September 2019. Scores and results list the Netherlands' goal tally first. Score column indicates score after each De Jong goal.
|1||6 September 2019||Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany||Germany||1–1||4–2||UEFA Euro 2020 qualification|
- Eerste Divisie Talent of the Season: 2016–17
- Eredivisie Player of the Month: December 2018, February 2019
- Eredivisie Player of the Season: 2018–19
- Eredivisie Team of the Season: 2018–19
- UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season: 2018–19
- UEFA Midfielder of the Season: 2018–19
- Dutch Football Talent of the Year: 2018–19
- UEFA Nations League Finals Young Player of the Tournament: 2019
- UEFA Nations League Finals Team of the Tournament: 2019
- The Best FIFA Men's Player: 2019 (7th place)
- FIFA FIFPro World11: 2019
- IFFHS Men's World Team: 2019
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