De Jong: "I'm looking forward to playing alongside Messi"

Rob Train

De Jong: "I'm looking forward to playing alongside Messi"

Frenkie de Jong Barcelona presentation live online

And that's it! Frenkie de Jong is officially a Barça player and officially not De Ligt's agent. 

Will Barça win the league next season? De Jong chuckles. "I hope so but I'm not going to say that we definitely will." 

De Jong says that of course he's very happy that he's going to get to play alongside Leo Messi. Not very imaginative questions at the moment. You'd suppose he would really. 

Can he tell us what Bartomeu told him to convince him to join Barcelona. Another chuckle. "No, I can't say everything. Some things have to remain between us." 

Has he tried to convince De Ligt to join him at Barça? A chuckle. "I was expecting that question. I'd love to see him here but it's up to him and his family to decide." 

Is there a Barça player he wants to try and emulate (a nudge towards the Cruyff comparison of course). "No, I just want to be Frenkie de Jong." 

Does he have a favourite position? Nope, he doesn't mind here he plays, it's up to the coach. 

De Jong chuckles, as his translation device plays up, but caught enough to know he was asked about the Dutch influence at the club and he says he's proud to carry on the tradition of Cruyff, Koeman and Kluivert. 

Who is asked about his shirt number, 21... "It's always been a special number for me and I'm happy to hang on to it here." 

Someone ventures a question about Griezmann and Bartomeu shoots him down sharpish (figuratively speaking). The press officer reminds the chided journo that press conference was earlier and this is purely about De Jong. 

A reporter asks why De Jong chose Barça over all the other offers. "It's always been my dream to play for Barcelona." 

And here we go with the press questions... 

A few words from Éric Abidal now, who gives a quick run-down of De Jong's tactical qualities. 

But it will be the first to make the move, Johan Cruyff, who will be the obvious comparison De Jong will draw. 

Bartomeu points out that De Jong is the 23rd Dutch player to represent Barcelona. Everybody, naturally, remembers the great Winston Bogarde above all. 

Now the official snaps... 

A few words from Frenkie now, in Spanish: "Thank you everybody, I'm very happy to be here and looking forward to getting started. Visca Barça." 

"I believe he's a very special player," Bartomeu says. "It wasn't easy to get him, every club in Europe was interested." 

And here comes Bartomeu, accompanying De Jong to the podium. Looks like it's going to be an informal affair. 

And here comes Frenkie, looking rather dapper in an open-neck shirt and suit jacket. 

A spot of badge kissing for the purists... 

According to Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu, there has been initial contact made with Atlético over Antoine Griezmann, who could yet go on to top that list. 

De Jong is the fourth-most expensive signing of the 2019 summer transfer window to date - will Barça make another splash before the deadline? 

We're about to get going with the press conference... 

We're just waiting now for De Jong to appear in the press room for his first conference as a Barça player. 

Frenkie's career in 60 seconds... 

De Jong leaves the pitch with a series of high-fives with the academy kids to a huge cheer from the stands. 

And there we go with the badge kiss! For once, you actually get the feeling that he means it. He really does look over the moon to be a Barça player. 

"When you put the Barça jersey on for the first time you feel really proud and I can't wait to get started." 

A few words from Frenkie, in Spanish! Fair play. Now he's switched to English though and says he's looking forward to playing in the stadium. 

De Jong looked like he'd happily have stayed there all day but is hauled off by a couple of suits for the official photo call. 

And another nice touch from De Jong as he carries a couple of balls over to a group of disabled fans on the touchline and takes a few selfies with them. 

The crowd loving that touch, a few scrambles ensuing in the stands to lay their hands on one of those puppies. Reckon a couple will be on Ebay in the morning... 

They reckon there's about 10,000 fans in the stadium to greet De Jong, who is now signing a few balls to hoof into the crowd. 

That's a nice touch, he's having a knock-about with some of the academy kids now, a moment they'll never forget. De Jong takes the opportunity to skin a few of them and the crowd cheer good.naturedly. Just nobody put a reducer in on him... 

A few more, and a few Olés, and now he turns it on a bit, a few side of the boot jobs and a little juggle-shuffle. 

Ahhhhh, Frenkie... just a few very basic keep-ups, nothing too fancy. We were hoping for a sombrero or two at least. Nerves must jangle at this sort of thing though, we've seen a few clangers before. 

It looks though De Jong is about to appear on the turf... here he comes, and the crowd go absolutely wild! Huge cheers for the 22-year-old, who looks quite overwhelmed by the turnout. 

It's fair heaving in the stands now, we'll see what the official count is but it's probably about what Real Madrid pulled in for actual football on occasion last season. That will probably change in 2019-20 with Florentino's huge overhaul in full flow. Let's see how Baça respond on top of landing the hugely promising De Jong. 

Not sure Frenkie will be making any friends among the Camp Nou cleaning staff. Looks like a permanent marker, that... 

The Camp Nou is filling up to greet De Jong... 

And there's the official handshake. At just 22, Barça can expect a good decade out of a player who the Camp Nou faithful hope will be the next Andrés Iniesta...

There's a big old turn-out at Camp Nou to see the new boy take his first touches as a Barça player... 

"Frenkie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship".

De Jong's girlfriend and parents join him for a few family photos... 

Ok we're back live at Camp Nou with Frenkie de Jong being handed his shirt by Bartomeu... no number on the back for now. 

Well, after that little lot, we'll soon be seeing an actual Barcelona player when Frenkie de Jong gets his first taste of Camp Nou. 

But it doesn't sound much like Bartomeu is going to push the issue over Neymar's apparent desire to return to Camp Nou... 

Maybe Antoine will get his move after all... 

Bartomeu also discussed Matthijs de Ligt during that conference and reiterated something he said a while ago: "I said that I know where he'll be playing next season; I still know, but I cannot comment further. He still belongs to Ajax." 

And that's it from Bartomeu. We now await the grand unveiling of De Jong. We rather hope Shakira is on hand to bang out a couple of classics. They've promised some razzle-dazzle. 

Has Messi asked for Neymar to return? Bartomeu only knows what he has read in the press and denies that the Argentinean has ever requested any particular player be brought to the club. 

Bartomeu is now saying that yesterday was the first meeting between Barça and Atlético about Griezmann, apparently scotching the rumours that an agreement had been reached with the Frenchman back in March. 

On Neymar, again, Bartomeu has backed Ousmane Dembélé, saying the Frenchman is better than the Brazilian and has a lot of room for improvement, which he wants to see unfold at Camp Nou. 

Before being asked about Griezmann, Bartomeu confirmed that legendary keeper Víctor Valdés will be offered a coaching role in La Masia. 

Now he's being asked about Greizmann and the stance of Atlético president Enrique Cerezo. He says there has been a meeting with the Atlético executives but that the details are confidential. 

You'll have to bear with us because a lot of this is in Catalan but Bartomeu insists that as things stand, there is no contact with PSG over Neymar. 

On Neymar, Bartomeu plays a straight bat: "We know that he wants to leave PSG, but we also know that PSG don't want him to leave. So there's nothing to say." 

He laughs it off by saying that was more than one question and then switches to Castellano. Was that the reason for Mestre's departure? No, says Bartomeu. 

Ah, here comes the juice... the Neymar question... 

Now Bartomeu is being asked whether Pep Segura, who is in charge of the academy at La Masia among other things, and Bartomeu seems to indicate he'll be staying on and that none of this will affect the women's team, Barça B, the basketball team or anything else. "During nine years of the current board, people have come and gone. There is no crisis," says the president. 

He'll be running the show on his own for now, Bartomeu explains. 

Who will be taking over, the president is asked... he's saying that he wanted Mestre to stay on but for his own motives he decided the time was right to leave. No word from Bartomeu on a possible replacement. Dani Alves, maybe? 

The Barça president is out, and he's explaining what the circumstances surrounding Mestre's resignation are... 

We should be about to hear from Bartomeu in a few moments, with the president currently involved in a boardroom reshuffle that has seen him assume the functions previously performed by vice-president Jordi Mestre, who stood down yesterday.  

Mind you, Ajax have every reason to be grateful to their former player... De Jong cost the Dutch champions just one euro when they snapped him up from the youth ranks of Willem II, who also stand to pocket €7.5 million courtesy of a 10-percent sell-on fee they arranged as part of that deal. 

A nice touch from Ajax to their departing star. 

It's beeen quite a summer of spending so far in LaLiga, with clubs splashing out a combined €830 million in the space of a month. 

There is also the small matter of playing alongside Leo Messi of course, with De Jong admitting that the Argentinean is his idol. 

De Jong passed all the necessary medical checks earlier today. 

De Jong has said he doesn't think it would be appropriate to take Cruyff's number 14, which is currently the property of Malcom: we suspect there are a fair few Barça fans who feel the Dutchman may be a morer worthy inheritor of that famous strip than the Brazilian. 

De Jong was courted by half of Europe but chose Barcelona largely we suspect because of the Dutch heritage at the club, which has the DNA of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff embedded within every aspect of Camp Nou. It will be interesting to see what shirt number he gets handed today... 

Today is the day... Frenkie de Jong officially becomes a Barcelona player on 5 July after his €75m move from Ajax, which was tied up back in January