Frenkie de Jong Doesn't Want Xavi, Andres Iniesta Comparisons; Targets UCL

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2019

Dutch soccer player Frenkie de Jong poses for media and supporters as he is unveiled as a new FC Barcelona player at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

New Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong doesn't want to be compared to legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and both he and the club are targeting UEFA Champions League glory in his first season at the Camp Nou. 

Per Goal's Dejan Kalinic, the Dutchman spoke to BarcaTV, and when asked about the comparison, he shot it down: "I don't want to be compared with those players. It's the perfect club for a midfielder. They hold onto the ball well, they control the play. It suits me perfectly."

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

He also discussed his goals for the upcoming season:

"I want to start most games. All players want that. I'll work as hard as I can in training to show what I can do in games.

"I like to play attacking football, for it to be attractive and for people to have fun when they come to the stadium.

"Both me and Barca are really keen to win the Champions League this year, and I hope that's what happens."

The former Ajax midfielder was introduced to the Catalan fans earlier this month:

De Jong had the best season of his young career in 2018-19, playing a key role in Ajax's unexpected run to the Champions League semi-finals. The Willem II youth product played as a midfielder, functioning as Ajax's main distributor of the ball.

He scored a career-high three goals and added three assists in the Eredivisie, but his game isn't about statistical output. As a natural playmaker in a deep role, it's his job to control the pace of play in midfield and move the ball around, setting his team-mates up in dangerous areas.

The 22-year-old has excellent vision and awareness, but it's his ability to stay calm under pressure that sets him apart. Ajax shared this highlight reel of the youngster making opponents look silly with his silky feet:

His ability on the ball should make him a good fit at the Camp Nou, where possession and ball movement are key parts of the attack. Per Transfermarkt, his €75 million transfer fee makes him the team's most expensive signing of the summer window by some distance, so big things will be expected.

It's no surprise the Champions League is De Jong's primary objective for the 2019-20 campaign. With Ajax, he suffered heartbreak in the competition last season, with the Dutch champions coming agonisingly close to a spot in the final.

Having won the first leg in London 1-0, they were tied 2-2 with Tottenham Hotspur in Amsterdam deep in injury time before Lucas Moura completed his hat-trick to finish an epic comeback:

Barcelona are also keen on success in the competition. They haven't won it since the 2014-15 season. In that span, rivals Real Madrid won it three times in a row, between 2016 and 2018.

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