De Jong fit to face Real Madrid, confirms Ajax boss Ten Hag

By Sports Desk February 12, 2019

Frenkie de Jong is available to play for Ajax against Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League, coach Erik ten Hag has confirmed.

De Jong was substituted late in Ajax's 1-0 Eredivisie defeat at Heracles on Saturday with a reported muscle problem.

But Ten Hag has allayed fears the midfielder, who will join Madrid's LaLiga title rivals Barcelona at the end of the season, could miss Wednesday's first leg, with Brazilian winger David Neres also passed fit.

"Frenkie is fine, he is happy to play the match," the Ajax coach told a news conference ahead of facing Madrid, who have won three consecutive Champions League titles.

"Like all of us, I imagine he will have an extra motivation, but we all have to play a Champions League game against Madrid.

"Frenkie only wants one thing, which is to close the season well, we have this match with Madrid and he is sure to be 100 per cent motivated to give the best.

"Neres is fine, he is very ambitious and a great fighter, he will show this on the pitch. He is a very important player for us and will be important against Madrid.

"He has problem in the adductor, but he has rested in the last days and I think he will be able to play the game perfectly."

De Jong will have a chance to show Madrid what they are going to come up against in 2019-20 and beyond, with former Ajax striker Patrick Kluivert offering an insight into the 21-year-old's strengths.

"Well he offers joy for the people because he's a very good player, 21 years old now," Kluivert said in a LaLiga interview. "I've known him for a long time now because he played with Justin [Kluivert] - my son in the youth of Ajax and then you could already see his strength.

"[His] way of handling the ball, when he received the ball, he already knows where to play the ball. He always looks at vertical passes with other central midfielders or strikers but also when he's got the ball and the ball at his feet he always got some space.

"He's very quick in vertical runs so I think he's a great signing for Barcelona. He will let the Barcelona fans really enjoy the way Barcelona loves to play. He's the perfect player to join in."

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