Now my idol is my team-mate – De Jong pinching himself at Messi link-up
Frenkie de Jong is in dreamland after officially joining Barcelona and becoming a team-mate of his idol Lionel Messi.
Barca announced the signing of De Jong from Ajax in January, with the move effective ahead of the 2019-20 season, agreeing to potentially pay the Dutch club a remarkable €86million.
A supremely gifted and technical midfielder, De Jong has impressed at Ajax over the past few years but really rose to prominence last term, when he helped Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals.
In De Jong, Barca feel they have a player capable of becoming the heir to both Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, such is his well-rounded style of play.
And it is not lost on De Jong what it means to represent the Blaugrana, as he prepares to play alongside Messi.
"I am very happy to be here finally," he told Barca's official website. "As a child it was a dream for me to play at Barca, and now I'm here so it's great.
"I'm really looking forward to setting foot on the Camp Nou pitch for the first time. I'm happy to be able to play with Messi, who I have always followed. Now my idol will be my team-mate."
While the step up from the Eredivisie to LaLiga could be significant, De Jong does not expect to struggle in his adaptation period, pointing to the similarity between the philosophies taught by Barca, Ajax and Netherlands.
"I like Barca's way of playing," he added. "The philosophy of Barca and Ajax are very similar, and I think I will enjoy it.
"Barca and Holland have always had a great, special connection, and I hope to follow in that tradition. I want to be one of the great Dutch players who have played at Barcelona."