‘When Messi stops, De Jong will be Barcelona’s leader’ – Sneijder gives Dutch star big billing

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Frenkie de Jong Barcelona 2019-20
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The ex-Netherlands international expects a fellow countryman to fill big boots at Camp Nou, while Lautaro Martinez has been urged to head for Madrid

When Lionel Messi decides his time at Barcelona is over, Wesley Sneijder says Frenkie de Jong will step up and become “even more of a leader” for the La Liga giants.

The reigning La Liga champions invested heavily in a Netherlands international midfielder during the summer of 2019.

De Jong’s current ability and future potential was noted during a productive spell at Ajax, with the 23-year-old proving himself on domestic and European stages.

A testing debut campaign in Catalunya has seen the odd question asked of whether a creative talent can make the expected impact at Camp Nou.

Sneijder is in no doubt that a fellow countryman will thrive in time, with De Jong still finding his feet in the most demanding of surroundings.

The ex-Real Madrid star even believes that a natural heir to Barca skipper Messi could present itself over the coming years.

De Jong fills a different role to a mercurial Argentine forward, with his game drawing more similarities to Blaugrana legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta, but he could take on more responsibility.

Sneijder expects that to be the case, telling the Daily Mail: “Holland and Barcelona have always had a great feeling.

“De Jong made the best choice because he understood that his football is perfect for Spain and Barcelona. 

“[Mattijs] De Ligt chose differently [in joining Juventus] but Frenkie made the perfect decision for his life. De Ligt a different choice but in my opinion De Jong is forward-looking. 

“He did very well to choose Barcelona: it is a club suitable for him, when Messi will stop with football Frenkie will become even more of a leader.”

Barca are back in the market for more game-changing talent heading towards the next transfer window.

Lautaro Martinez has emerged as a top target for those at Camp Nou, with efforts being made to prise an Argentina international forward from the clutches of Inter.

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Ex-Nerazzurri star Sneijder is hoping to see the South American stay put for the foreseeable future, allowing him to deliver tangible success at San Siro, with the 22-year-old then urged to make a move to the other side of a fierce Clasico divide in Spain.

“I don't like Barcelona, I played for Real Madrid. Winning at Inter is a unique feeling, I did it and I wish he does it before leaving,” Sneijder said.

“I recommend Real Madrid to him. A player who is physically strong and mentally strong. I can only tell him to try to play for Real Madrid but only after many years at Inter.”

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