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Andres Iniesta tips De Jong to become a Barcelona leader

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Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta sees a bright future for talented Frenkie de Jong and backed him to become a leader in the midfield.

Following his €75m move from Ajax this summer, De Jong will be keen to continue his promising rate of development at Barcelona for the new season.

At 22, the Dutchman is already one of Europe’s most renown central midfielders. In fact, former players, scouts and pundits alike have even compared his style of play to none other than Iniesta himself.

And the 35-year-old playmaker, who left Barcelona for Japanese side Vissel Kobe last summer, is convinced De Jong will thrive at Camp Nou and become a valuable asset for the Blaugrana in the upcoming years.

“De Jong is an exceptional signing,” said Iniesta, according to Goal.

“He is a step up for the club, young, very talented and, if all goes well, will be a leader in the centre of midfield, because he is also surrounded by the best [players] to continue growing.”

“Every year, Barça has to improve the team and those who come must be even better.”

The nine-time La Liga winner also endorsed Barcelona’s €120m capture of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann. However, he’s unsure if the club will be able to pull off a sensational return for Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

“I have said it before, Griezmann is an exceptional player, who knows the league and the teammates he is going to have at Barça, so everything indicates that his career as a culé will be positive,” said Iniesta.

On Neymar, the Spaniard added: “As a player, for me, he is one of the best there is.

“It’s a matter of sports management, for the coach, but as a player, for me, he’s one of the best.”

Iniesta was speaking in Japan on Thursday ahead of his first encounter against Barcelona as a Vissel Kobe player this Saturday.

The World Cup winner even wrote an open letter to all Barcelona supporters ahead of the emotional encounter last weekend.

Barcelona v Sevilla - Spanish Copa del Rey Final
MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 21: Andres Iniesta of Barcelona is subbed off in his last cup final during the Spanish Copa del Rey Final between Barcelona and Sevilla at Wanda Metropolitano on April 21, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)