If many of the Netherlands’ finest modern-day players had often joined Barcelona – Johan Cruyff was followed by Ronald Koeman, Patrick Kluivert, Philip Cocu and more, in the same way that Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard also became coach – far fewer had done so since Rijkaard’s departure from the Camp Nou in 2008. It was at that point, under Pep Guardiola, that La Masia’s finest in Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta became even more crucial to their success, forming the world’s finest midfield at a time when Barca’s was the world’s finest club side, and Spain won both European Championships and the World Cup.
Of that decorated group, Busquets alone remains, and Barca are significantly less dominant. The talented Philippe Coutinho is one who was recruited to help form a new midfield, and proved unable to do so. But it was when Coutinho was loaned to Bayern Munich that Frenkie de Jong arrived from Ajax for a fee of £65m, that could yet rise by a further £9.5m, amid interest from Juventus, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, again giving Barca perhaps the most sought-after midfielder in the world. De Jong can also play in defence but, perhaps more crucially, particularly after the recent appointment of Cruyff disciple Quique Setién as succecessor as manager to Ernesto Valverde, his presence gives them hope of reviving the remarkable philosophy that made them as stylish as they were successful.