BARCELONA – Memphis Depay, whom Barcelona officially presents this Thursday, reopens the Dutch route at the Barça club, arriving two summers after Frenkie de Jong did and becoming the 21st player from the Netherlands who will be a member of Barça, without count Sergiño Dest on the list, born 20 miles from Amsterdam and raised in the Netherlands but international with the United States national team.
Incorporated with the letter of freedom after ending his relationship with Olympique de Lyon, Depay, 27, signs a contract for the next two seasons in what is understood as a high-risk deal for the footballer, but even more so for Barça al accept a signature that is unusually short-term and that will force him, already next season, to renegotiate a renewal under much more advantageous conditions for a striker who rejected financially superior proposals in a show of unwavering loyalty to Ronald Koeman, his greatest supporter, and to a Barcelona in which he sighs with emulating compatriots of the past.
It was Johan Cruyff, in the summer of 1973, the first Dutch footballer to be signed by Barça. The then best player in the world came from Ajax through a record transfer at the time ($ 1.8 million) and remained at the club for five seasons.
Cruyff was not, however, the first Dutchman at Barça, an honor that corresponds to Rinus Michels, a legendary coach who arrived at the Camp Nou two years before the flying Dutchman. Five have been, in fact, the original coaches from the Netherlands in directing the Barça team, although two of them, Johan Cruyff himself and the current Ronald Koeman, were club footballers rather than coaches. The list of managers is completed by Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard.
SUCCESSES AND FAILURES
Among the 20 Dutch players who preceded Depay, the Barça history mixes indisputable successes, notorious failures and players, also, of varied performance, between the excellence of Philip Cocu or the regularity of Michael Reiziger or the little importance of Richard Witschge, Ronald de Boer or Jasper Cillessen.
There are already 21 players from the Netherlands, in addition to Dest, who have played with the Barça first team … Although we must add up to five other players with Barça history. And one of them, even in a friendly match, was the first to defend the Barça shirt before Johan Cruyff, the greatest idol of all, did.
Johan Cruyff 1973-1978
Double Ballon d’Or upon arrival and triple European champion with the best Ajax ever, he was once the highest signing in football history and his impact on Barça was immediate. He led the Barça team to its first league title after 14 years of drought and although he only won another trophy, a Copa del Rey in his farewell season, his electric football, superb quality and resounding leadership made him a star of the time. He played a total of 227 games and scored 85 goals.
Ten years after leaving the club as a footballer, he returned as a coach, giving shape to the legendary Dream Team that linked four league titles and won the first European Cup of the Barça entity, being fired badly in 1996 … But remaining, forever, in the Olympus of Barça.
Johan Neeskens 1974-1979
Struggling midfielder, tireless fighter and transcendental player in his area of influence, he arrived at Barça after the World Cup in Germany and stayed for five seasons at the club, totaling 232 games in which he scored 57 goals. He won a Copa del Rey and, as a farewell, the first Recopa de Europa. His name continues to be idolized by many of the veteran Camp Nou fans.
Ronald Koeman 1989-1995
Central and midfielder who today is the coach of the Barça team, was the first great signing under the direction of Johan Cruyff, with Barça paying PSV Eindhoven, with whom he had proclaimed himself European champion a year earlier, about 8 million dollars in The one who was the second largest signing of the club after Diego Armando Maradona in 1982.
Living legend at Barça, author of the goal that gave him the first Champions League title in 1992, he scored 90 goals in the 267 official matches he played during his six seasons at the club.
Richard Witschge 1991-1993
Excellent quality midfielder who tiptoed through Barça, at a time when only three foreigners could line up and always remaining in the shadow of Koeman, Stoichkov and Laudrup, he played 62 official matches and scored three goals.
Jordi Cruyff 1994-1996
Son of Johan and from the quarry, he made his debut in the first team in September 1994, although he had already played two games in the Catalunya Cup in 1993, and until his departure, affected by the dismissal of his father, he totaled 60 games in the who scored 13 goals.
Returned a few weeks ago to the club as an executive recruited by Joan Laporta, he was a forward who showed good manners without reaching, for extra-sporting reasons, to settle in the team in his footballing stage.
Michael Reiziger 1997-2004
The first Dutchman recruited from a long list of players who arrived under the command of Louis van Gaal, he was a full back and center-back who offered a very regular performance during his seven seasons at the club, winning five titles and adding 262 games.
Ruud Hesp 1997-2000
Unknown goalkeeper who arrived from Roda, took the place of the media Vitor Baía and became a high-performance player under the sticks for three seasons, in which he played a total of 146 official matches and won five trophies.
Winston Bogarde 1997-2000
Inexplicable signing and with a disastrous performance, he was a defender who never showed what Van Gaal ventured when he recruited him from Milan, scoring 4 goals in the 62 games in which he took part and celebrating four trophies in which he was hardly a protagonist.
Boudewijn Zenden 1998-2001
A fast winger or insider, though discreet technical quality, he scored three goals in the 97 games he played during his three seasons in which he won two titles before being traded to Chelsea. His career in the Premier League was much more fruitful than in a Barça where he left no mark.
Phillip Cocu 1998-2004
Superb midfielder, he offered a spectacular performance in the six seasons that he remained at Barça, to which he arrived free of contract from PSV and with which he scored 38 goals in the 297 official matches that he lined up, being today the Dutchman with more Barça games. His stage coincided with a terrible sporting era for Barça, adding just three trophies, only one League and two Catalan Cups.
Patrick Kluivert 1998-2004
A forward of undeniable quality, capable of scoring excellent goals and combining in an unlikely way with his teammates, he is the top Dutch scorer in the club’s history with 123 goals in the 262 official matches he played. Despite its large numbers, it was quite discussed by a large part of the Camp Nou fans.
Frank de Boer 1998-2003
Central of precise and excellent game, his time at Barça, being as he is one of the best Dutch players of his generation, was rather discreet, attending to the more than 8 million dollars that his hiring cost since in his five seasons it barely won a League and a Catalunya Cup. He accumulated 215 official matches in which he scored 14 goals.
Ronald de Boer 1998-2000
Frank’s twin brother, his time at the Camp Nou was even less productive, marching to Glasgow Rangers just two years after his arrival without showing the quality with which he came preceded as a great arrival midfielder. He only scored three goals in 55 official matches, winning a League and a Catalunya Cup.
Marc Overmars 2000-2004
A brilliant winger in Arsene Wenger’s best Arsenal, his signing responded to the traumatic departure of Luis Figo … And although his performance as a Barça player was acceptable, he never met expectations or achieved the superb role he showed as a gunner. In his four seasons at Barça he added 145 official matches and scored 19 goals, limiting his record to a simple Catalunya Cup.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst 2003-2007
Left-handed winger incorporated by surprise from Arsenal, surprised by his regularity and defensive firmness, as well as an excellent ability to join the attack. It was transcendental in the plans of Frank Rijkaard and added 155 official matches, in which he scored 7 goals to win eight titles, two in the League and the 2006 Champions League as the greatest conquests.
Edgar Davids 2004
Brief but essential, he arrived at Barça on loan from Juventus in January 2004 and left the club in the summer of the same year when he did not accept the offer made by the club. A hard-working midfielder was transcendental in the rebirth of a sunken team, scoring a goal in the 20 games he played.
Mark Van Bommel 2005-2006
A discreet and regular midfielder, away from the spotlight, he only stayed at the club for one season, winning the Champions League double in which he played 38 games and scored four goals before leaving for Bayern Munich.
Ibrahim Afellay 2011-2014 Forward
Recruited in January 2011 from PSV, injuries marked his very discreet time at Barça, linking transfers to Schalke and Olympiakos and leaving no memory other than an excellent goal assist at the Bernabéu for Messi, key in the elimination of Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Champions. He added 35 official matches and scored two goals, although his record is completed by eight titles.
Jasper Cillessen 2016-2019
Goalkeeper who came to replace Claudio Bravo to be Ter Stegen’s substitute, he lined up in 34 games during his three seasons as a Barça player, mostly in the Copa del Rey, which he won twice and adding five more trophies, two of them from League. He did not leave a mark precisely before being exchanged with Valencia for Neto.
Frenkie de Jong 2019-
Called to be one of the benchmark players at Barça, the Barça club paid $ 90 million for his signing in January 2019, joining the club the following summer. Discreet in his first campaign, in the second, already under the command of Ronald Koeman, he put on record his undisputed class in the center of the field. He has, to date, 93 official matches in which he has scored nine goals and won a King’s Cup.
THE OTHER NAMES
Gert Bals, a Dutch goalkeeper who, after making history at Ajax, ended up at Vitesse, played a curious game with Barça. It was in the 1973 preseason and because the Barça team suddenly found themselves without goalkeepers when the incumbent Sadurní and his substitute Mora were injured. The goalkeeper played only one friendly match in Papendal, against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Danny Muller, a talented interior of Ajax youth football, was recruited by Barça to play in the second team in 1988, his signing being highly questioned as he was then the boyfriend of Chantal Cruyff, Johan’s daughter. He spent just one season in the subsidiary and returned to Ajax in 1990.
Albert Martí, a striker born in the Dutch city of Breda although of Catalan descent, played in the lower categories of Barça between 1965 and 1972, later completing a career at the regional level.
Ludovit Reis, a midfielder incorporated for the subsidiary in 2019 and from Groningen, his time at the club was more than discreet, leaving the club this summer, after a first loan to Osnabruck, to sign for Hamburg.
Mike van Beijnen arrived at the Barça team in the summer of 2019 under strange circumstances: he was the son of Ali Dursun, Frenkie de Jong’s agent. Left-handed winger from NAC Breda, nor did he make his debut as a Barça player, leaving after six months for Gençlerbirligi in Turkey.