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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

Frenkie de Jong 'perfect player' for Barcelona, says Patrick Kluivert

Former Barcelona striker knows fellow Dutchman well, having watched 21-year-old midfielder excel at Ajax alongside his son

Frenkie de Jong, who is at Ajax until the end of the current campaign, will join up with the Barcelona side from July 1. Remko de Waal / EPA
Frenkie de Jong, who is at Ajax until the end of the current campaign, will join up with the Barcelona side from July 1. Remko de Waal / EPA

Recent signing Frenkie de Jong is the “perfect player” for Barcelona, according to compatriot and former Camp Nou striker Patrick Kluivert.

The 21-year-old Dutch midfielder has emerged this season at Ajax as one of world football’s brightest prospects, prompting the Spanish club last month to pay an initial €75 million (Dh314.7m) for his services. De Jong returned to Ajax until the end of the current campaign and will join up with his new side from July 1.

Kluivert knows the player well, having watched De Jong excel in both the Ajax academy and for the club’s senior team alongside son Justin, before the latter transferred last summer to Serie A side Roma.

Speaking about De Jong on a recent trip to the UAE in his role as a LaLiga ambassador, Kluivert said: “He offers a lot of joy for the people because he is a very good player. He’s 21 now and I’ve known him for quite some time having played with my son in Ajax youth.

“You could see his strength and way of handling the ball. When he receives the ball he already knows where to play it, and he always looks for passes for other midfielders or strikers, so when he has the ball in his feet he is very quick.

Frenkie de Jong with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu after he signed up to join the Primera Liga club last year. EPA
Frenkie de Jong with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu after he signed up to join the Primera Liga club last year. EPA

“He is a great signing for Barcelona, and he will let the fans enjoy the way Barcelona loves to play. He is the perfect player to join them.”

Kluivert representing Barcelona with distinction from 1998 to 2004, scoring 123 goals and helping the club secure the 1998/99 Primera Liga title.

Barcelona are favourites for the top-flight crown this season, since they sit top of the table by six points after 25 matches. Atletico Madrid represent their closest challengers, with Real Madrid are two points further back in third.

While the league title looks unlikely, Real will aim to strike a blow in Barcelona’s bid for three trophies – the Catalan club face Lyon this month in the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League – when the two meet on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-final.

Having faced Madrid many times during his spell in Spain – he scored the equaliser in a 2-1 Barcelona win at the Bernabeu in 2004 – Kluivert understands exactly what is at stake.

“I’ve played in quite a few leagues, but el clasico is the game that changed the world,” said the former Ajax, AC Milan, Newcastle United and Lille forward.

Patrick Kluivert represented Barcelona with distinction from 1998 to 2004, helping the club secure the 1998/99 Primera Liga title. Courtesy HK Strategies
Patrick Kluivert represented Barcelona with distinction from 1998 to 2004, helping the club secure the 1998/99 Primera Liga title. Courtesy HK Strategies

“I played for AC Milan and Ajax – you name it – but el clasico is a game that everybody knows.

“If you say it here or in the other end of the world, everybody knows. If you play that game, weeks in advance the media is building up the game and it’s fantastic to take part in that game. You ask any fan in Spain they will die to go and watch the game.

“A game like el clasico, you either have your moment or you don’t. And, if you don’t have your moment, then there’s a problem.”

Asked for his favourite memory from facing Madrid, Kluivert said: “Winning, of course. Winning at the Bernabeu and scoring there is the best thing that I remember.

“It’s quite amazing because the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is enormous, but also respectful because you see both teams play and that at the end they shake hands.

"There are a lot of national team players that play in the same team. So they have to be friends. But during el clasico they’re enemies.”

Updated: February 6, 2019 01:24 PM

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