Amidst all the rivalry and hatred within the modern footballing community, an outpouring of open respect from a fanbase towards an opposing player is a rarity - and is traditionally withheld for the truly elite footballers of this world.


Cristiano Ronaldo received such an ovation at Juventus when he scored that bicycle kick for Real Madrid in the Champions League two years ago, but you won't find many other recent examples.


That was until Barcelona's clash with Eibar.


That was until Frenkie de Jong's withdrawl - when the young Dutchman was greeted by a rousing standing ovation from the home supporters, keen to acknowledge the prestigious talent and outstanding performance they were blessed enough to witness. 

Frenkie De Jong,Pape Diop

The 22-year-old trotted off the field with ten minutes to play, but the damage had been well and truly done during the starlet's devastating spell in the heart of the Barcelona midfield, as the La Liga champions cruised to a 3-0 victory over their hosts. 


Sometimes a player comes along with such confidence, technical ability and an understanding of the game that he immediately draws comparisons with some of the greats who have graced our beautiful game over the years. 


De Jong's transfer to La Blaugrana and his initial performances allowed the Camp Nou faithful to dream of a new Andres Iniesta, a second-coming of Xavi, or the heir to the ageing Sergio Busquets' throne. 


Well, ​Barça have got themselves a man who can do all three roles, and each to an exceptional standard. 

It's impossible to pigeon-hole De Jong when it comes to your typical midfield roles, given his ability to adapt to any position across the middle of the park. The former Ajax man is tidy in possession, quick across the ground and has a lovely eye for a pass. 


But there's something special about Barça's new midfielder. De Jong is able to find time and space in every area of the pitch, and he plays the game at his own speed, which opposition and teammates alike must obey. 


The youngster's calmness on the ball is unnerving for his opponents, who are left unsure whether to allow him to wander towards his own corner flag to collect possession, or to press and watch him glide effortlessly past each tackle. 


De Jong's display against Eibar was possibly his best in a Barcelona shirt, and the true range of his talents were witnessed by the fortunate crowd in attendance. The Netherlands international dictated proceedings from start to finish, demanding the ball in every possible occasion, and releasing his teammates with intelligent one-or two-touch passes. 

His speed across the pitch is also frightening, and he often wriggles free of tight marking, only to burn away from his opponent with a lightning burst of pace and kickstart another dangerous Barça attack.


The highest compliment you can pay De Jong, is that his footballing intelligence and skill allows ​Lionel Messi and ​Luis Suarez to play their natural, devastating game.


Ever since Xavi and Iniesta walked off into the sunset with their heads held high, their legacies at Camp Nou have only grown in stature, given the Catalan club's failure to adequately replace the pair in each passing transfer window. 


In the former, Los Cules had a pass-master, someone who set the tempo and picked killer passes for his grateful strikers. In the latter, Barça possessed a man who could carry the ball and slalom through any number of tackles, creating space for others and linking up perfectly with those around him. 


In De Jong, Barcelona have all of those attributes rolled into one player. 

It's far too early to say whether Barcelona's midfield prayers have been answered; you only need to look at Matthijs de Ligt's initial struggles at ​Juventus to see that time and patience is needed when bedding in a young player into a top team. 


But De Jong seems to be the real deal. 


For a 22-year-old boy to be the beating heart of one of Europe's most successful clubs in recent history, and to be winning the plaudits of pundits and supporters alike, the Camp Nou faithful may be settling down to witness the dawn of a new era. 


The Kings are dead and so are their ghosts - long live the King.