When the biggest clubs in the world first started paying Ajax’s Frenkie de Jong some attention, the club wasn’t expecting him to become one of the most expensive signings of the summer.
Ajax were confident and clear about their midfielder’s virtues and they knew, eventually, a huge club was going to lure them away, but they never imagined any club in the world would pay €75m for an unproven star.
And, according to his agent Hasan Cetinkaya, Ajax were considering letting him go for something around €38m, as they were just hoping to top their record sell of €35m, when they let Darvinson Sanchez go to Tottenham.
However, the agent had other plans in mind, and immediately doubled down on what they were expecting, hoping any club would bite and sign the wonderkid regardless of the huge investment:
“I told them ‘We should not sell him for €50m. We will sell him for €100m. We will not only set the record for a Dutch club, but we will also make the biggest sale ever for a Dutch player’. And suddenly there was an absolutely fantastic atmosphere in the room. Then it became a tug of war, where Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, and Juventus did just about everything to get Frenkie. But Barcelona had always been his first choice, their football is in his DNA. There was tremendous pressure on Barcelona’s sporting management to get the deal done, and they really wanted to guard themselves,” Cetinkaya told Aftonbladet.
As a matter of fact, the team even forced him to put his name to guarantee that the deal was going to be done, and claimed he was really nervous and anxious until Barcelona eventually came through and speeded things up to sign de Jong:
“I’ve never been to anything like it. Those in Barcelona’s sporting leadership were so relieved that the then sports manager Pep Segura began to cry as soon as the papers were written. When I saw it, I also got emotional and shed a tear, and it is damn rare that I cry. There was a hug, there was champagne and then I, Frenkie and his whole family went up to a really nice restaurant in the mountains that Barcelona had paid for. We drank Spain’s best wine, ate a fantastic piece of meat and everyone just laughed and were overjoyed. They sang their Dutch songs, I tried to join in as best I could. Totally fantastic,” he concluded.
And that’s the story on how Barcelona paid €75m for a player that was only worth half of it at the time.