Thursday 24 January 2019, 10:13

De Jong continues Ajax-Barça tradition

  • Frenkie de Jong to make move from Ajax to Barcelona

  • Will follow in the footsteps of Dutch footballing titans in doing so

  • We look at other Ajax aces who made the move to Camp Nou

Frenkie de Jong will join Barcelona on 1 July 2019, making him the 20th player from the Netherlands to play for the Catalan giants.

The move sees the versatile midfielder follow in the footsteps of Dutch footballing titans who have starred for Amsterdam aces Ajax before dazzling at Camp Nou.

On the back of the 21-year-old continuing that trend, looks back on just some of the Dutch Ajax royalty who have done the same in years gone by.

Johan Cruyff

The first Dutchman to play for Barça and the most celebrated Netherlands international of all time, Johan Cruyff linked up with his former manager at Ajax, Rinus Michels, in August 1973, and made an immense impact. After lifting three European Cups with Ajax, Cruyff was instrumental in helping Barça win Spain’s La Liga in his debut season – their first in 14 years.

He would go on to dazzle at the 1974 FIFA World Cup soon after as the Netherlands’ golden generation captivated fans with their ‘Total Football’ ethos, where defenders attacked and attackers defended.

Cruyff left Barcelona in 1978 after netting 86 goals in 231 games but would return as manager, overseeing an extremely successful period which included four league titles and the 1992 UEFA Champions League title.

Johan Cruyff of Barcelona in action

Johan Neeskens

When speaking of Cruyff, another name often rolls off the tongue: Johan Neeskens. After the Netherlands stormed to the 1974 World Cup Final with their ‘Total Football’ philosophy, Neeskens followed in the footsteps of Cruyff by leaving Ajax after three European Cup triumphs to sign for Barcelona.

Dubbed ‘Johan II’, Neeskens’ midfield performances and penalty-taking prowess made him a fan favourite along with Cruyff at Camp Nou. Neesken’s final season for Barça was in 1979 - a year after Cruyff’s – when he would again taste continental success, this time winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Barcelona's German Coach Hennes Weisweiler, flanked by Barcelona's Dutch stars Johan Cruyff, left and Johan Neeskens

Ronald Koeman

A Dutch Eredivisie winner with Ajax in 1985, defender Ronald Koeman arrived in Barcelona in 1989 after three seasons with PSV. The move saw him link up with Cruyff, Koeman’s former coach at Ajax, and similar to Neeskens, was renowned for his sound penalty-taking ability.

Koeman is best remembered at Barcelona, though, for scoring the goal which secured the club's first European Cup in 1992. The four-time La Liga winner boasted an incredible goalscoring record for a defender, netting 106 goals in 350 games for Barcelona.

Barcelona's Ronald Koeman scores the winning goal

Patrick Kluivert

The scorer of Ajax’s winning goal in the 1995 Champions League final against AC Milan at just 19 years of age, Patrick Kluivert joined Barcelona in 1998 after one season in Milan and became one of the top scorers in the club’s history with 145 goals in 308 matches.

Like Cruyff before him, Kluivert won the league in his debut season with the Catalan giants, adding to the two league titles he had won with Ajax previously. In his six-season stay at Barcelona, the striker received guidance from two Dutch coaches: Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard. He would later link up with the former as the Netherlands’ assistant coach at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Patrick Kluivert of Barcelona celebrates

Frank de Boer

After five Eredivisie titles, one Champions League, a UEFA Cup and an Intercontinental Cup with Ajax, defender Frank de Boer made the move to Barcelona in 1998 – the same campaign as Kluivert. They were not the only Dutch arrivals at Camp Nou that season, however.

As well as brother Ronald also joining from Ajax, Philip Cocu and Boudewijn Zenden signed from PSV; all five of the signings were part of the Netherlands squad at France 1998. De Boer and his fellow Dutchmen tasted league glory in their debut season, and he would remain at the club until 2003.

Frank De Boer of Barcelona in action