10 recent Dutch players to have signed for Barcelona

Frank De Boer signed for Barcelona in 1999
Frank De Boer signed for Barcelona in 1999

"More than a club", as FC Barcelona's tagline goes, the Catalan side has seen several foreign signings that have gone on to become integral parts of the club's vast heritage. While none of such signings would trump the importance of a certain lad who joined from Argentina, Barcelona does have its fair share of linked history with players of various nationalities.

Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Dani Alves, Neymar, and now Arthur and Coutinho and so on represent the club's Brazilian link, while Messi, Riquelme, Maradona and Mascherano and so on came from Argentina. We have similar lists for French, Spanish players and more, but none of these lists would even come close to how important several Dutch players have become, to the current La Liga holders across various points of time.

The Spanish giants have had a very rich tradition of unlocking some vastly rich talent from Netherlands, their latest signing Frenkie De Jong (completed day before yesterday, coming from Ajax for €75 million + €11 million in variables) who is bound to join from the start of next season - being the latest in a long line. In tune with this thunderous signing, we thought it would be good to take a look at Barca's ten most recent signings from the Orange country. Here we go then:

10. Patrick Kluivert (from Milan, €8.75 million)-

Patrick Kluivert
Patrick Kluivert

A true Barcelona legend; one among the likes of Johan Cruyff and Ronald Koeman; was senior Kluivert. The center-forward joined from Milan after netting six times in 27 appearances there. His transfer was sensational - an hour before the summer transfer window of 1998 ended, Barca announced that Kluivert was coming in for four seasons, having sealed the business with the Rossoneri for €8.75 million. Kluivert went on to feature in 249 games for Barcelona, scoring a whopping 124 times.

His entry in '98-'99 to partner Rivaldo up front was an instant success, as he helped Barca win the Spanish League. He was also the top-scorer with 16 goals. In the next five seasons, Kluivert would go on to be top-scorer three more times, but Barca went trophyless in the La Liga all along.

He was released in 2004 along with three other Dutch players - Frank de Boer, Marc Overmars and Edgar Davids - and Kluivert chose Newcastle United to go on a free transfer. Kluivert most recently featured in a Barca Legends game against the Uganda All-Stars in 2016, when he scored a magnificent goal via a lobbed shot, showing glimpses of what he used to do on his best days.

9. Frank de Boer and Ronald de Boer (from Ajax, combined sum of €22 million)

De Boer brothers
De Boer brothers

Frank de Boer, as was his twin brother Ronald, are proud Dutch-Barca hybrids. Frank, a defender, is also the second most-capped Dutch player with 112 international appearances, while Ronald had 67 Dutch caps himself. Both players arrived at Camp Nou in the summer of 1999, where they joined their former manager from Ajax, Louis van Gaal.

However, both players turned out to have slightly contrasting careers in Barcelona. Despite playing 33 games for the club in his first (and only) season, Ronald who was a prolific goal-scoring midfielder till then, could manage just a solitary addition to his tally of goals, and also failed to impress in the midfield. He was shipped to the Dutch side Rangers immediately afterwards.

Frank, meanwhile, went on to play with Barca until the end of '03-'04, and won the La Liga in his first season itself. But the wins could not be repeated and van Gaal was sacked, following which Barcelona went through a tough phase. Meanwhile, Frank also tested positive for a banned substance nandrolone, and was banned for a while. However, he made a comeback soon enough, leaving for Galatsaray in 2003 by when he had made over 150 appearances for the Spanish club.

7. Marc Overmars (from Arsenal, €25 million)

Marc Overmars
Marc Overmars

Overmars is widely regarded as one of Arsenal's best players ever. He spent the prime of his career in North London, racking up 25 goals across 100 league appearances. He was then hotly pursued by Lazio and Barcelona, and the player chose the latter, calling it "an honour to play for the club". He joined in the 2000-'01 season for €25 million, becoming the most expensive Dutch player of his time. Interestingly, Overmars' debut came against Arsenal itself, in a non-competitive fixture.

Barcelona was going through a transitional phase at that time, to put it modestly, as managers changed one after the other, affecting player performances too. But by the end of the season, Overmars began to be regarded as one of Barca's most influential players. The Catalans eventually finished fourth in La Liga, as they did next season as well.

The new manager Carles Rexach was more interested in playing Xavi and new signing Javier Saviola in the first XI, Overmars hence donning a new role of "super-sub", making huge impacts by coming off the bench. Barca's lean phase continued until mid '03-'04, and Overmars continued to make some positive impact with his presence, but being plagued by recurring injuries did not help and he retired altogether by the end of the season. Overall, he scored 15 goals in 97 league appearances for the Blaugranas.

6. Edgar Davids (from Juventus, loan transfer)-

Edgar Davids
Edgar Davids

Davids' stay at Barcelona is what can be most aptly described as "short and sweet". The midfielder with his iconic "wrap-around goggles", played just 18 league matches for Barcelona after completing a mid-season loan move from Juventus, but is popularly hailed as one of the main reasons for Barcelona's resurgence under its then-new manager Rijkaard.

In the 2003-'04 the club was reeling under a lot pressure, and only a mid-table finish was expected of the side - perhaps for the first time in history. It was in such circumstances that Davids joined Barca, and in the next four months, the team saw an unprecedented rise in playing quality, eventually finishing second behind league leaders Valencia.

As mentioned, Davids featured in eighteen matches for the blue-and-maroon, scoring one goal. He was the midfield engine for the side in the interim, creating chances like never before. All 18 of these games played by Davids came in a time period of five months, which shows how vital he was for Barcelona. At the end of the season, Juve recalled him and completed his permanent move to Inter Milan, but by then Barcelona was almost-completely reborn.

5. Giovanni van Bronckhorst (from Arsenal, €2 million)-

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst

The defender was seemingly doing well at Arsenal in the 2001-'02 and '02-'03 seasons, when he suddenly discovered the possibility of a loan move to Barca so as to work with their new Dutch manager, Frank Rijkaard. The move pulled through and the player found himself wearing the club colours for the first time in the most immediate league game itself.

A center-back player by default, Rijkaard had Bronckhorst switch to a left-back position instead, and the decision miraculously paid off. The next year, his transfer was made permament at €2 million, and Bronckhorst put his Arsenal days to shame while producing some spectacular moments with his new club on their way to winning the '04-'05 La Liga. "Gio" as he was fondly called and named on his kit, became an indispensable member of the first eleven soon after, as he helped Barca defend the La Liga apart from winning the UCL in 2005-'06. He was also the squad's only player to feature in all of the club's UCL run that season.

Until the end of the 2006-'07 season, Gio featured in 105 league appearances, also scoring five goals. He then returned to his boyhood club Feyenoord Rotterdam via a free transfer, where he spent the evening of his club career.

4. Mark van Bommel (from PSV Eindhoven, free transfer)

Mark Van Bommel
Mark Van Bommel

Van Bommel was already a player with a winning mentality, in his time at PSV Eindhoven - which is from where Frank Rijkaard brought the player to bolster his already title-winning squad, ahead of the 2005-'06 season. Interestingly, it is said that Bommel was so spirited about his move, that he spent the rest of his days in Eindhoven trying to pick up the Spanish language in a convent.

A holding midfielder by profession, Bommel was used in the same role at Barcelona, where he was rotated alongside Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago Motta, Edmilson and Deco. Bommel thus featured in 36 appearances for the club, 24 of them coming in the Spanish League itself. He also scored three goals.

The '05-'06 season was highly successful for Barca, as they clinched three titles - the La Liga, the Champions League and the Spanish Super Cup. Bommel played integral roles in the club's wins across all these competitions but with just six days left for the new season to begin, it was announced that he will be moving to Bayern Munich on a permanent move worth €15 million.

3. Ibrahim Afellay (from PSV Eindhoven, €3 million)

Ibrahim Afellay
Ibrahim Afellay

Though Afellay is a Moroccan descendant, he was born and brought up amongst the immigrant communties in Utrecht. He was brought to Barcelona after nearly fifteen years at PSV Eindhoven where he rose through the ranks, initially among the young players to finally get his first senior break in 2006, going on to even captain the Dutch side. Barca agreed terms with the right-winger in the January transfer window of 2010, which saw Afellay sign a contract that would end in 2015.

Though Afellay made only a handful of appearances, he was a vital cog in the team's golden runs in both the La Liga and the Champions League in 2010. His best moment from the season would be when he assisted Leo Messi's goal in the away fixture against Real Madrid in the UCL semis. Barca's 2-0 win there took them to the finals, where they overcame Manchester United to lift the coveted cup. Afellay featured in 28 Barca matches (18 were substitute appearances including the UCL finals) and he scored his only Barca goal against Almeria in the Spanish League.

In the beginning of the 2011-'12, he began fighting against recurring bouts of injuries and recovery periods, one of them lasting as many as seven months. He was subsequently loaned to Schalke (2012-'13) and then Olympiacos (2014-'15), following which he made a permanent move to Stoke City. Afellay continues to play for Stoke till date.

2. Jasper Cillessen (from Ajax, €15 million)-

Jasper Cillessen
Jasper Cillessen

Barca's current second-choice goalkeeper, Cillessen has been predicted to rise up as an exciting future prospect for both his club and country. For €13 million plus €2 million in add-ons, he signed up for Barca from Ajax in the summer transfer window of 2016-'17, replacing the outgoing Claudio Bravo. He started off with conceding two goals in a home La Liga game against Alaves (lost 1-2), but went on to play a dominant role in the club's Copa Del Rey title runs in both 2016-'17 and 2017-'18, starting in all but two CDR games across both seasons.

In the ongoing season, Cillessen has featured in 440 minutes across 14 matches for both Barca and Netherlands. He continues to be Barca's first-choice over Marc-Andre Ter Stegen when it comes to games in the Spanish Cup. His best record this season so far comes for Netherlands, where he has played a vital role in his team's solid run in the UEFA Nation's League.

Jasper Cillessen's best abilities include playing short passes and saving close-range shots, both of which have only improved since joining the blue-and-maroon outfits.

1. Frenkie De Jong (from Ajax, €86 million)

Frenkie De Jong
Frenkie De Jong

The Dutch wonderkid is coming from his boyhood club Ajax after nearly a whole year of negotiation wars, which even saw his potential purchase shuttling between English giants Manchester City and French champions PSG at one point.

For €86 million, Ajax have sold De Jong to Barca, where he will be putting pen-on-paper for an initial five-year-deal, starting July 2019. De Jong thus became the 20th Dutch player ever, to sign for the club. A creative midfielder by trade, the 21-year-old youngster will feature as either a central midfielder or as a deputy to current central-defensive midfielding stalwart, Sergio Busquets.

De Jong featured in 2084 minutes across 27 games in the Ajax and Dutch national outfits so far this season, scoring three goals and making an assist. His amazing pass success rate of 91.7%, coupled with his penchant to play short passes and do layoffs, is touted to fit Barca's style of play to the dot. He is undoubtedly one of Barcelona's most exciting arrivals in the next season.

Honourable mention: Lieke Martens

In case you didn't know, Barcelona also has a women's team playing in the Women's Spanish Primera Division. Named the Barcelona Femeni, one of the team's major drivers is the Dutch superstar Lieke Martens, also the FIFA Women's Best Player for 2017.

A prolific goal-scoring midfielder who often plays as a forward too, Martens is known for her penchant for insane skills on the pitch. She joined the club on 12th July, 2017, and has racked up more than 50 appearances for the club till date, and has scored more than 20 goals - growing up to be one of Barcelona Femeni's leading faces in such a short while. Martens is also touted to be one of Netherland's greatest female footballers ever.

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Edited by Ananthu Anil
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