Ajax has long been a club who produce excellently talented players, and Frenkie de Jong is one in a long line who could come through their doors to make a name for themselves on the world stage.
He’s been linked with several clubs, but our friends at Football Whispers say he could be a perfect fit for Tottenham Hotspur.
The perceived wisdom seems to be that Ajax young talent Frenkie de Jong is destined for a move to Barcelona. The Dutch club have admitted as much, when they recently confirmed that the Spanish giants had made an approach during the summer and would most likely be back in January or the following off-season.
However, recent reports surrounding the defender have begun to include a number of Premier League side, with Tottenham taking the top billing of alternatives to De Jong making the move south to Catalonia.
With Toby Alderweireld’s contract set to expire next summer and no new deal in sight, Spurs may be forced into making contingency plans that involve a long-term recruit that would be worth the fortune needed to bring him to north London. And in a number of ways that’s exactly what the Ajax prospect could offer.
De Jong has made waves in Holland for not only emerging as a superb defensive talent but perhaps most importantly the manner in which he has done it. Rather than being a physical, no-nonsense brute at the back, the Dutch player is very much a product of his nation’s illustrious past and brings a technical, almost attacking approach to his defending.
This is quite notable when we compare his stats to what Mauricio Pochettino already has to work with at Tottenham.
For example, last season De Jong has averaged an incredible 3.11 dribbles per 90 minutes from the heart of Ajax’s defence. The closest Tottenham player to that is Jan Vertonghen, who averaged 0.16 for the club last season.
Similarly, De Jong’s key passes per 90 minutes stands at 1.04, which is higher than midfielder Eric Dier’s current average despite playing 20 or 30 feet higher up the park. This is also evident in the Dutch defender’s accuracy in passing, with his passes to the final third finding their intended target 91.77 percent of the time. For comparison’s sake, the most accurate Tottenham defender for this is once again Vertonghen, but his strike rate stands at just 77.55 percent.
De Jong’s contributions going forward are clear, and they’re reflected through the fact that he averaged 0.4 assists per 90 minutes last season, which far exceeds Tottenham’s current defensive midfielders and central defenders. The Ajax defender would bring a whole new level of playmaking to Pochettino’s defence and could revolutionise the manner in which the team creates chances in the Premier League.
That’s not to say the Tottenham transfer target is negligent of his defensive duties. While De Jong only attempts 2.39 aerial duels per 90 minutes (Tottenham’s Sanchez and Vertonghen average 4.82 and 4.68 respectively) he does win 72 percent of the attempts he makes. This is considerably better than Tottenham’s best winner of the ball, Vertonghen, who only wins 65 percent in comparison.
De Jong actually sits second behind the Belgian central defender when it comes to tackles per 90 minutes and interceptions, but on the whole it’s safe to say that the young defender could certainly hold his own against Tottenham’s more defensive centre-backs.
Whether the 21-year-old would be able to continue his gung-ho style of defending in the Premier League remains to be seen, but there’s a very strong, traditional defender in there too. And when the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG and Tottenham are all interested there can be little doubt that his talents are genuine and would bring a huge benefit to whichever team he ends up moving to.
*Odds subject to change