Frenkie de Jong admitted that he dreamed of playing in the Premier League before arriving at his new destination Barcelona.
The Dutch wonder-kid completed a €75m switch from Eredivisie champions Ajax this summer, after bursting onto the world stage during his side’s dramatic Champions League campaign. De Jong attracted the attention of Europe’s elite, but it was Barcelona who won the race for the 22-year-old’s signature.
De Jong claimed that one of the biggest factors for joining La Blaugrana was the chance to play alongside Lionel Messi, but he also confessed that he’d always dreamt of joining Arsenal before the Catalan giants.
“In my mind, I have had the following list for a long time: Ajax-Arsenal-Barcelona, call it the Marc Overmars route,” he told Voetbal International.
“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.
“The football that [Barcelona] has been playing for years, the players that have been here, that still are here… Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, I watched that midfield” he continued.
“And then there is Lionel Messi, the very best in the world, my idol.
“Camp Nou, the stadium. Add that all together and it’s not so complicated that many young boys choose Barcelona or Real Madrid as their favourite club.
“So did I, although I actually thought Arsenal was pretty beautiful in the past.”
De Jong follows in the footsteps of Dutch legends such as Ronald Koeman, Johan Cruyff and his idol Marc Overmas in making the leap to the La Liga champions, and will be hoping to hit the ground running at the Camp Nou.
His impressive performances for Ajax ultimately ended in European heartbreak, crashing out of Champions League in the semi-final after a last-gasp winner from Spurs attacker Lucas Moura. His side did win the domestic championship however, topping the table by three points over rivals PSV Eindhoven.