Premier League 2018-19: Will signing Frenkie de Jong make Manchester City truly unbeatable?
It's been an open secret that Pep Guardiola wants to replace Fernandinho with someone younger and more technically gifted. Ajax wonderkid Frenkie De Jong seems to fit the bill, and his performances this season have been incredible.
Guardiola's Manchester City look like an upgrade to Guardiola's Barcelona. They are undefeated so far this season, and have surprisingly evolved to play even better football compared to last season. And all this, while their best player from last season Kevin De Bruyne is injured.
Most of the positions at City have at least two world class players vying for them, except for central midfield i.e. Fernandinho's position. The Brazilian's performances have been exceptional but at 33 years of age, he cannot play twice a week anymore. Hence, signing a replacement has assumed great importance for City in the next transfer window, with Ajax sensation Frenkie De Jong a prime target .
Fernandinho joined Man City in 2013 from Shakhtar Donetsk, and has been a mainstay of the team ever since. Under Guardiola, he has assumed significant responsibility, becoming his trusted lieutenant on the field.
The defensive midfielder has been hugely impressive in the Premier League and is considered City's most important player. Guardiola even hailed him as 'a gift' in one of his press conferences this season.
The Brazilian midfielder is a player whose strength lies in breaking up play and shielding the defense, with his passing ability being at a slighltly lower level compared to his peers. According to whoscored.com, this season Fernandinho averages 72.3 passes per game in the Premier League, with a success rate of 88.3%.
Comparing this to the man who was earmarked to replace him until he followed Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea, Jorginho, who averages 91.3 passes per game with a success rate of 89.3%, it is clear why Guardiola is desperate to sign a metronome in the midfield.
Frenkie de Jong, 21, perfectly fits the bill - with his added dribbling ability a huge advantage. The Dutch international has been in phenomenal form this season, averaging 75.5 passes in Eredivisie with a success rate of 91.8%. He averages 1.5 dribbles per match, which is unusual coming from a deep lying midfielder and is his greatest asset compared to some of his more illustrious and experienced peers.
One of his best performances this season came in a 3-0 win for The Netherlands against Germany. He bossed the midfield, set the tempo and completely nullified the threats posed by Kroos, considered one of the best midfielders ever.
This match showed the world what De Jong is capable of, and why a fee of €60mn quoted by Ajax seems like a bargain in this market.
Former Barcelona great Xavi once said that De Jong closely resembles Sergio Busquets in his playing style. And unfortunately, the Premier League hasn't had the pleasure of Busquets playing there.
But it is tantalizing to imagine a player considered by many as Busquets' natural heir light up the Premier League, and in the process make Man City the undisputed kings of both England and Europe.