The former Ajax midfielder thought he would move to north London before he went to Spain, following in the footsteps of another Dutch great
New Barcelona signing Frenkie de Jong has said that he viewed a “dream” move to Arsenal as a stepping stone on the way to Camp Nou, but jumped at the chance to move to Catalonia ahead of schedule.
The Netherlands international midfielder was unveiled by the La Liga champions earlier this week after completing a £65 million ($81m) move from Ajax in January.
The 22-year-old revealed that he thought he would follow the career path of Marc Overmars, who moved from Ajax to North London before going on to play at Barca. Overmars is now the sporting director in Amsterdam.
“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 nine-cap international, who attracted interest from a host of top European clubs, including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, said he’d always been a fan of Barcelona, but said he’d also admired the Gunners.
“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.”
The north London outfit are in need of reinforcements in midfield after Aaron Ramsey was allowed to leave on a free transfer to Serie A champions Juventus at the end of last season.
Unai Emery’s team are operating on a reduced budget, believed to be £45 million ($56m), and may have been out of the race for De Jong’s signature as a result.
They are now being linked with a move for Southampton’s Mario Lemina, who admitted he was looking to move on from St. Mary’s.
They are likely to be challenged by Manchester United for Lemina.