Barcelona's Frenkie De Jong Reveals Arsenal Admiration, Had Considered Move

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JULY 05: Frenkie De Jong acknowledges the fans at Camp Nou during his unveiling on July 05, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has revealed he thought he might join Arsenal before moving to the Camp Nou.

The Dutch midfielder joined the Catalan giants from Ajax this summer but once planned to join Barca only after a stint with the Gunners.

He told Voetbal International's Martijn Krabbendam (h/t Goal): "In my mind, I have had the following list for a long time: Ajax-Arsenal-Barcelona, call it the Marc Overmars route. But yes, if you can go directly to Barcelona, then you are right where you want to be. Faster than you ever dared to dream."

De Jong revealed his delight at getting to play alongside his "idol" Lionel Messi. He added that he loved the football Barcelona played with Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets, but he also "thought Arsenal was pretty beautiful in the past."

Ajax sporting director Overmars spent three years in north London before joining Barcelona in 2000.

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During his time in north London and for much of former manager Arsene Wenger's first decade or so in charge of the Gunners, Arsenal were known for playing some of the most attractive, technical football in Europe.

A player of De Jong's skill set would have been right at home at Arsenal in that period, and he should fit in comfortably at Barcelona, too.

De Jong is a player who can control games from midfield thanks to his intelligence on the ball and excellent technique, and he's equally comfortable carrying the ball at his feet or distributing it to team-mates.

Football statistician Dave O'Brien shared the numbers behind his man-of-the-match winning performance for the Netherlands against England in the UEFA Nations League semi-final:

Scouted Football observed how his numbers stacked up, as the Dutch beat the Three Lions 3-1 after extra time:

Bleacher Report's Dean Jones was in awe of his performance:

That De Jong has not followed the same path as Overmars is a symptom of Arsenal's decline in recent years.

Whereas they were regular title contenders during Wenger's early years, in the latter part of his tenure they fell behind their rivals and had to settle for a top-four finish each season.

In the last three seasons they've not even managed that, and as such are no longer UEFA Champions League regulars.

The club can't attract rising stars in the same way they used to, nor can they compete with Europe's elite without Champions League revenue. Arsenal have a long and difficult road ahead of them before they can once again attract players of De Jong's calibre.

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