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4 reasons why the hype around Frenkie de Jong is real

Ibrahim Alli
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
1.66K   //    15 Jan 2019, 15:11 IST

Ajax v Emmen - Eredivisie
Ajax v Emmen - Eredivisie

Frenkie de Jong is currently one of the best youngsters in Europe and his ability to dominate the midfield has made him be considered as one of the best midfielders at the age of 21. While he might not have the flair or the skills to make him a joy to watch week in week out, he plays a role that often does not get the required credit but makes the play of any team tick - The midfield anchor.

Frenkie did not come through directly from the Ajax academy but was snatched from another Dutch side, Willem. Ever since his first team debut for Ajax, the 21-year-old has made over 40 senior appearances for the Dutch side playing in a variety of positions. One thing that stands out is his versatility. The 21-year-old has a unique set of skills that make him an effective player in multiple positions. His time at Ajax has seen him being deployed as a center half as well as in various roles in midfield.

Since the beginning of the 2018/19 season, his performances, especially in the UEFA Champions League, have resulted in many top European clubs showing interest in the Netherlands midfielder but it appears as if Barcelona, PSG, and Manchester City are the ones leading the chase. A record-breaking transfer could be on the cards! Here's a look at why the 21-year-old midfielder is considered one of the hottest prospects in world football by taking an in-depth look at his style of play and what he can offer to a team.

1. Defending

Ajax v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Final
Ajax v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Final

In his breakthrough season with Ajax, de Jong was mostly utilized as a center-back in Ajax's preferred 4-3-3 formation. The Dutch side benefited greatly from de Jong’s excellent awareness and ball-playing abilities. In this case, he was deployed as one of the center halves where he was required to read the game from deep before finding spaces to run with the ball, helping progress play from deep into his own half. In this system, the Ajax fullbacks were required to spread out and not overlap when in possession. This gave de Jong the freedom to overlap and initiate the play high up the field, giving the impression of a false center half.

As a player who operates in the deeper zones, his defensive stats are also impressive. With 1.5 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game in the Eredivisie this season, it tells us that de Jong is also a destroyer. More impressive is the fact that he has managed to win an average of 1.1 aerial duels per game despite his lighter frame.

His concentration and ability to read the game made him excel as one of the center halves for Ajax last season and perfect Ajax’s style of building from the back.

2. Dribbling

Netherlands v France - UEFA Nations League A
Netherlands v France - UEFA Nations League A
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Frenkie de Jong has been used as a deep-lying midfielder this season both for Ajax and the Dutch national team. He has featured in both the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formation for Ajax and he has shown that he is not only able to connect the defense with the attack but also break up the opposition play.

One of the things that makes de Jong a terrific prospect is his ability to find pockets of space and progress play through his dribbling. The 21-year-old is a great dribbler and he always attempts to make surging runs with the ball into the opposition territory from his own half. This makes him a special deep-lying midfielder capable of changing the dynamics of play. He has helped Ajax launch quick counter attacks as a result of transition from defense to attack instead of hooking long balls in behind the defense.

Midfield dribblers help in destabilizing the defensive shape of the opposing back line as well as the space-creation for marked teammates by changing the focus of the opposition. This ends up in the opening of spaces near the penalty area which in turn leads to creation of goalscoring opportunities. This perhaps explains the demand for midfielders with excellent ball-carrying abilities by many teams.


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Ibrahim Alli
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
'The worst blindness in football is only seeing the ball'
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