Oranje’s future: Frenkie’s Farewell Tour

He’s 21 years old, hasn’t had a full season in Ajax 1, but already is he the new leader of Oranje (on the pitch) and the most talked about Dutch talent since… Memphis probably.

Frenkie de Jong. Gifted. But also intelligent and levelheaded. An important quality, both in terms of football intelligence (decision making) and generic intelligence. Everyone knows his story by now. In summary. Grew up in Brabant (PSV territory) but in a family of Feyenoord fans. Both clubs courted Frenkie for years, but Ajax got him in. Rumour has it, that Ajax really took the opportunity to whoo the youngster. When he visited De Toekomst (the Ajax youth Academy “The Future”), Bergkamp, Jaap Stam, Marc Overmars, Ronald de Boer and Edwin van de Sar all popped in to shake the lad’s hand. He decided to stay at Willem II until he finished school and joined Ajax.

Not long after breaking into the Ajax 1 team, most top clubs in Europe knew it for sure. The youngster they had on their radar made the final step up and would be ripe for a deal. Bayern Munich, Barca, Real Madrid, Man City, Spurs, they’re all keen to join in on the hunt for Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong has demonstrated in big games, that he’s able to perform. With Ajax in the Champions League, with Oranje in the Nations League, he makes it seem easy. And even though Frenkie plays “behind the ball” in a holding role, Feyenoord coach Gio van Bronckhorst decided to change his line up and tactics to take care of De Jong, with Jens Toornstra coming in the first team to manage the youngster. But to no avail. Toornstra’s first foul came in minute 2. A clumsy and actually quite mean-spirited step with the studs on the calf. Worthy of a red card.

From that moment on, it was clear that Feyenoord and Toornstra weren’t their usual self. Van Persie played as #9. Jorgensen operated as a false winger on the left and Toornstra played in the #10 role but only to step onto De Jong’s toes when possible. As a manmarker in the playmaker position.

It’s logical though. Van Persie doesn’t have the legs to deal with the playmaker/holding midfielders De Jong and Schone. But Feyenoord did want to pressure high up the pitch, so… this line up could work. But the Rotterdam team was so uptight that first Jens made a nasty foul to be followed by St Juste’s stupid hack on Tagliafico, resulting in Jerry’s fasted red card in Klassieker history.

AJAX Game component* FEYENOORD
68% Possession 32%
24/11 Shots/On target 6/2
13 Corners 6
9 Fouls 10
698/619 (89%) Passes/Good (percentage) 332/253 (76%)
164/73 (45%) Duels/Won (percentage) 164/91 (55%)
35/17 (49%) Aerial duels/Won (percentage) 35/18 (51%)

After the red card, Feyenoord was lost. The confidence decreased even more and it was unclear how to proceed. Van Persie and Jorgensen decided to keep the press on, where possible, but half of the Feyenoord team didn’t participate. Usually, when playing with 10, teams will go to a 4-4-1 and aim for damage control but the timing in the Feyenoord team and the communication about when to press and when to drop deep was gone. And with the fact that Ajax has a better player than Feyenoord on every position, it makes it very hard. Only Berghuis might be good enough for this Ajax, most other Feyenoord players will have to accept being second-tier to the Sons of Gods.

It is telling that a young kid in midfield is the reason for Feyenoord to change their tactics and playing style. But Feyenoord isn’t alone. Benfica did it too, in the CL match last week. Gedson Fernades became Frenkie’s guard but despite that, the former Willem II playmaker was able to dominate the game and become one of the key players on the pitch, just like he got the Man of the Match award after the Feyenoord game.

How is it that Frenkie de Jong can play the way he plays? Well, for starters: the team is set up to get the most out of him. Daley Blind and Mathijs de Ligt have exceptional qualities for a centre back: great build up pass, wonderful ball skills and technique and good tactical vision. They both have their eyes forward always. Lasse Schone, the other holding mid is also a player with the skill to accelerate the game and as the two full backs will push forward and force the wingers of the opponent back, there is a quartet of Ajax players playing opposite 3 opponents. And all four are wonderful players on the ball. And should the pass not be possible, no worries, Frenkie simply drops all the way back next to Blind to offer an outball. As he has the ability to swivle and dribble his way into midfield.

The differences between Clasie and De Jong are interesting to observe and demonstrate the difference in intentions between Ajax and Feyenoord. Both players are the deep lying playmakers with the task to accelerate the game where possible. De Jong had 4 times as many passes as Clasie. And that is not just a result of the red card, as De Jong is constantly sought and found by his team mates, which is less the case for Clasie.

Defensieve middenvelder Position Defensieve middenvelder
94 Minutes on the pitch 94
198/182 Total number of actions/good 72/60
5/2 shots/on target
141/132 (94%) Passes/good (percentage) 40/33 (83%)
5/2 Key passes/good 1/1

Clasie is definitely more a passer. De Jong is more a dribbler. He is sometimes called a postman, but it’s not fair. His quality is to draw players towards him, when he dribbles, allowing him to create a man more situation by taking the opponent on or by passing to the free man. De Jong is an old-fashioned playmaker like Fernando Redondo or Gunther Netzer who can play from a controlling position, as he has learned to defend and re-capture possession when needed.

Ajax already received an offer for 70M euros for the player and as the season wears on, that number will increase, with allegedly an 80M offer in the making by Man City. This kid will leave Ajax next summer. The biggest objective Overmars has, is to make sure he’s not gone in the winter break.

Obviously, there are other players high on scouting lists. Mathijs de Ligt will have to cost a similar amount as the 19 year old captain has everything to become a world class phenomenon. Andre Onana is on the hit list of Spurs and Argentine captain Tagliafico will probably not stay much longer either, with several Italian and Spanish clubs preparing offers.

Enjoy these players while you can!

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  1. Was a foolish challenge to be honest. I hope he puts it behind and continues with his form which he was showed before the red card. If De Jong never got a red card for the karate kick in that WC then the yellow card should have been legitimate replication for st justes challege. Again st juste remains the idle guy to anchor the midfield rather than on the right where there is long queue. His offensive game has improved drastically and he is never shy to cut inside and raid from the flanks.you name it, grit, speed, balance, destroyer, he comes with the package. Frenkie and him could be hit pair.

  2. Jan, i think you are spot on regarding clasie. A young van persie or a young huntelaar is the type of players you wanna have around him. He defintely doesnt like to keep the ball at feet for long. His accuracy in fitting is excellent though and this is where you need players around him to be looking for those open spaces where he can feed you. When van persie came off, much of his work was cut put and in an advanced role he simply looked vague.

  3. Another of Jong Ajax contingent, Zian Flemming smashed in four goals as PEC Zwolle thrashed Graafschap 5-2 in KNVB Bekker. This is what I was trying to emphazie early about the crash and burns of talents who simply dont reach the top of the ladder and have to start from the bottom again. Savastano, Lergsma, Decker, Zeefuik,Flemming, Terry Lartey Sanniez,lopez are some of the names that were cleared just to make way for the the incoming players from the other ranks.

    Flemming is more a winger but looked lethal as a striker.hope he continues with the fine form.he also has good built for a striker.

    1. “”””Flemming is more a winger but looked lethal as a striker.hope he continues with the fine form.he also has good built for a striker.””””
      that means he is really a striker only a fool will waste him on wings play dost and Luuk as central striker…Like Depay suffered a lot..

  4. Stengs made his return to AZ first team. At 93rd minute AZ was awarded penalty against Venlo and team let Stengs take it. But the boy missed it :). However, it did not spoil the game as AZ finally won and move to the next round of KNVB Cup.

  5. First call up for a # of players in the u21s to face germany in the friendly.Tahith Chong man united, Ajax duo Dani de Wit and Kaj Sierhuis, FC Emmen goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen, FC Groningen duo Deyovaisio Zeefuik and Jan Hoekstra, Spartan Deroy Duarte, and attacker Jay Roy-Grot, who is on loan with VVV from Leeda United.

  6. It a shame that Mitchell bakker is not playing in eredivisie and again im thinking he is becoming a victim of having Mino Raiola as his agent.most of Raiola clients at Ajax didnt have relationship with the management especially when it came to transfer.By all means he is matured at 18 like De ligt and you watch any game he plays, its evident. He again had a good outings vs Go Ahead Eagles in the KNVB and its hard to believe why Ajax is not rotating him with Tagliafico.there has being occasions when wober has being deployed at LB which makes no sense and im sure this has blocked him from breaking into the u21s. If you look at the current preliminary squad for the u21s, malacia has got the nod based on what , few outings for feyenoord.

    Sometimes you jus wonder what some of these D**kheads are doing up there.

  7. Funny to hear De Jong called a “postman.” Like De Bruyne? 😉

    One of De Jong’s most attractive qualities is that he moves the ball: direct, if direct is needed; wide from one side to the other; slotted passes… whatever. He moves the ball towards goal.

    That’s one of Robben’s best qualities, too. He likes to move it move it.

    Both of them are exciting to watch. 🙂

    1. It wilk be intresting to see when he comes up against more physicial central midfielders like fernandinho, casemiro etc.frenkies uses open space as a building factor and the more he finds it the more he starts bossing. If somebody can nullify this then it will become intresting to see what he can do out of his comfort zone.france will a good test.

      1. He’s already played against France and Germany. Germany played him hard from the beginning. Uth would come down and stand right where he likes to take the ball from a deep position, and force him left, into tight spaces. They were physical with him. Against France he was up against Kante and Pogba

        Sure, he had to struggle and he didn’t stroll around like Ajax against a weaker Eredivisie side. In big games against big teams no one is going to have it all one way. But overall, he did just fine; you didn’t see anything that would cause the Barcelona’s and Man City’s of the world to rethink his value. As I recall when he was forced into traffic on the left sideline, he and Blind combined well, and found some awfully good solutions, finding players in open space.

        Those kinds of games are great for him; he learns more in one of those games than in 10 Eredivisie matches (not counting PSV and Feyenoord.) Bring them on.

        1. To honest its only Ajax as usual who are exergrating his price tag. Barcelona paid Authur in the region of 40 million, chelsea splashed in region of 50 millon for Jorginho.its pure business with 70 million price tag for frenkie. His true valuation would be lesser.being said this I wouldnt undermine his potentials, he defintely is cut above the rest and if he does survive in a big league, well and good. Defensively he looks fragile.

  8. lol, you’re right about that, Wilson, there is an awful lot of liars’ poker that goes around setting the transfer value of a player. That said, whatever price the big clubs have in mind, nothing has happened in the Nations League or CL that would reduce FDJ’s value…in fact, I’d say the opposite.

    1. Defintely, and given vs the two heavyweights of europe, it would have but I dont think it didnt warrant that price tag to only attract the richest clubs. Im not sure if city would be the right destination for him.if barce do folk out the asking price then he could be a good understudy for bosquets.

  9. I personally feel he should go to a team like dortmund, Napoli, Inter, Tottenham or even liverpool rather than Ajax using him as a bait to get lurative deal.it would be rather disppointing if he end up at the biggest clubs in europe and has to scumb to bench because of competition and also experience factor.

  10. Nathan Ake had somewhat mixed performance vs Man united. The thing I like about him is the effort that he puts in the game. At times there can be lapse of concentration from him but other wise he gives his 100 % in every game.

    There was few times as usual he had lapse of concentration leading to errors but on the other hand he also put his body on line to deny united clear goals.

  11. Nathan Ake will become one of a crucial player for oranje in the upcoming Euro’s and World Cup

    If not in the startin XI, still will be one of a very standby or strong sub player. His prime is yet to come and I really hope he goes to a bigger club. He deserves champions league .

    As for Frenkie , he keeps improving and I am very certain than 2 to 4 years from now he will become a much more stronger and experienced player

  12. I REALLY hOPE kae should not be wasted in bench or as LB..He must start in every game he has vision,supberb aerial headers,so alert,immensly good at reading the game…He is a Top notch CB and top not DM..but as LB he lacks speed like Blind…
    ————-Cillessen —————
    Looks like a Champion team
    on bench
    ———–Van de beek————

  13. High flying liverpool brought down to earth by red star Belgrade and the once again klopp faces the same dilemma with depth and consistency in the squad.im not sure about if it was travelling or the hectic schedule is taking the toll on the team but the players looked lethargic in this game. Salah as usually look shadow of a figure he was last season.

    All in all klopp needs to have his backup players like to those of city when they come.

  14. Although PSV haven’t won a single match but I think this was a real good experience for the young boys

    Given the fact they are playing against Barcelona , Inter and Spurs , especially the away game , they will surely step up from these games not only technically but most importantly mentally

    Van Bommel looks like a coach . I watched his press conference he looks really dissapopointed but tough as a hold leader. This will make him become a greater coach in future

    Too bad malen didn’t score
    That goal otherwise all the headlines would
    Have been different

    1. I feel like they need to work on finishing and mental strength. In all the games so far, they were able to dominate some periods but could not score and then collapse in the second half.

      1. Thats the sign they are not compent enough to play at CL level.regard less whether they are in pool of death or what.they need more reinforcement and more technical players to compete at CL level.
        Eredivisie is another story.hendrix has been a huge disapointment for them competiting at cl level.luuk should jus play in eredivisie.nothing to be taken away from the youngesters.their in experience can be excused.I think PSV will be a better team next season and they are preparing good to set the stage. for the next season.

        Luuk needs to go and make space Max Romero and lammers and with Van ginkel, should add more reinforcement to the team.
        They might need to bring in a good central midfielder and a RCB as well.

  15. Good news.Marcel Keizer is set to be announced sporting lisbon coach.the former ajax coach has been approached by sporting who have sacked three coaches from the starting of this season.this could be good for the dutch contingent there.

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