The silky winger is one of the most exciting young talents in Europe and he has dazzled fans in the Eredivisie this season. The competition was fierce to sign the 21-year-old and Barca had to compete with elite clubs that are lavishly bankrolled by oil-rich billionaires. But they had a secret weapon as they had star player Lionel Messi call the young man and convince him to move to the Nou Camp.
He did not come cheap, as Barcelona had to pay €75 million for his services and pledge to give up another €11 million if certain performance targets are met. He will earn €10 million per year in wages, along with €6 million in performance-based bonuses, and that puts him alongside established stars like Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho. But Barcelona had to offer lucrative terms as interest in the Dutchman was so high, and they look to have signed a real gem.
The best sportsbooks in the world make Barcelona the clear favorites to win La Liga against this season and they are among the favorites for Champions League glory. An attack led by Messi and Suarez has been the bedrock of their triumphs over the past five years, but the club is now clearly looking to the future. Those superstar forwards are now 31
De Jong provides another intriguing option as they seek to build another attack that can rule Europe for the next decade. The club’s website calls him a “polyvalent player with an excellent reading of the game and ability to provide the killer pass”. He will finish the season at title-chasing Ajax and join Barca in the summer, when he will become the 20th Dutchman to join the club, following in the footsteps of superstars like Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman, Frank and Ronald De Boer, Frank Rijkaard, Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola was fuming after learning that his former club had pipped them to De Jong’s signing. He said City’s transfer market rivals have been quicker and smarter in their dealings and said it is almost impossible to compete right now. Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde accused Guardiola of breaking the rules by personally calling De Jong in a bid to bring him to Manchester. But reports have surfaced suggesting that Barca were up to similar tricks themselves, tasking Messi with calling him and convincing him to move to the club.
De Jong’s father revealed that Messi called the Ajax winger, although it was difficult as he does not speak Dutch or English. Yet the sentiment was enough to persuade De Jong to reject the overtures of Man City and PSG and make a dream move to Barcelona. The club will have to deal with a resurgent Real Madrid next season, as Los Blancos have a huge transfer war chest to invest in new forwards, but Barcelona has struck early to bolster their attacking options. De Jong should slot seamlessly into the side, due to his technical aptitude and flair, and it will be thrilling to watch him line up alongside Messi at the Nou Camp. He has already earned five caps for his country and played 65 times for Ajax, so he should be ready for first team football immediately.