I’m not a religious man. I don’t believe in astrology. I debunked rumours about the Tooth Fairy aged three.
But every now and then something happens that makes me start to think that there must be a higher power at work, like Fulham signing Moussa Dembele on the day they sold Mousa Dembele.
The latest sign from above happened at exactly 5pm GMT on 23 January 2019, when Barcelona announced the signing of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax.
De Jong to Barcelona is one of those occasions in which the footballing gods harmonise to produce the perfect transfer. You may not know exactly why it is perfect, but you know it’s perfect nonetheless.
The 21-year-old is dripping in Barcelona DNA.
Cut him open and he’ll bleed red (and blue). Sure, he graduated through Willem II’s academy rather than Ajax’s prolific production line, but he’ll still be following in the footsteps of Johan Cruyff.
Cruyff arrived at Barcelona for his first spell in Spain 46 years ago. Had that move, and Cruyff’s subsequent spell as manager, not taken place, then De Jong would be joining a very different Barcelona.
De Jong will have to go some way to match Cruyff’s haul of five league titles, three Spanish Super Cups, two Copa del Reys, a Champions League, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup, but he’ll undoubtedly set about the task in a way that pays respect to the legacies of those that have come before him, both at Ajax and Barcelona.
On the topic of legacy, Denis Suarez’s impending exit is likely to clear the way for De Jong to inherit the no.6 shirt worn with such distinction by Xavi for 14 years.
Arthur continues to go from strength to strength in Andres Iniesta’s no.8 shirt, making the prospect of a partnership with De Jong all the more intriguing.
Throw in the experience of Sergio Busquets, as well as the youthful exuberance of Riqui Puig, Carles Alena and Oriol Busquets, and the future looks very bright for Barcelona’s midfield unit.
De Jong’s arrival makes perfect sense from a footballing perspective. His versatility means Barcelona have signed a centre-back, defensive midfielder, box-to-box midfielder and a no.10 all wrapped up into one £65million pair of clogs.
Securing his signature is also brilliant from a PR point of view, given Barcelona beat the endless cash reserves of Man City and PSG to win the race for De Jong.
The signings of Malcom, Jeison Murillo, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Arturo Vidal had a scattergun feel to them, but De Jong’s arrival should allay any fears that Barcelona are losing their pull in the transfer market.
De Jong’s signing might also help Barcelona in the arms race to sign Ajax’s precocious 19-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt.
Reuniting De Jong and De Ligt would have shades of Barcelona’s 1998/99 campaign, when Frank de Boer and Ronald de Boer both left Ajax to move to the Camp Nou.
A bright future coupled with sepia-tinted nostalgia. What’s not to like to about De Jong’s move to Barcelona?
We give thanks to the football gods.
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