FC Barcelona

Every Dutchman to play for Barcelona - ranked

Mitchell Wilks
Edgar Davids enjoyed a short yet successful spell with Barcelona
Edgar Davids enjoyed a short yet successful spell with Barcelona / Firo Foto/Getty Images

The obsession in Barcelona with playing elegant and intricate football goes hand in hand with the Netherlands' philosophy of 'Total Football', making for a perfect marriage, right?

Pretty much. Tiki taka this, Total Football that, the two have been put together well at Camp Nou over the years, ruining the fortunes of just about every other top side at some point in time.

Memphis Depay's free transfer to Barça in 2021 means he becomes the 22nd Dutchman to sign for the Catalan side. There's some pretty decent stock in Dutch players, hence why they keep signing them. For now, though, 90min has ranked the 20 Dutch players that have actually turned out for La Blaugrana's first team.

20. Ibrahim Afellay (2010-2015)

Ibrahim Afellay
Almost, Ibrahim / David Ramos/Getty Images

Breaking through as a tricky and intelligent winger at PSV, Barcelona snapped up a 24-year-old Afellay in 2010, thinking he would boom.

Boom he did, if you can count the explosion as one on Barcelona's behalf. Afellay never looked cut out for the top level despite sticking around and moved to Stoke in 2015 during their weird, ultra technical 'Stoke-alona' phase of the mid-2010s. Never again.

19. Winston Bogarde (1998-2000)

Primera Division - "FC Barcelona"
Bogarde spent just two years at Barcelona / VI-Images/Getty Images

Famous for sitting out the rest of a lucrative deal with Chelsea at the end of his career, Bogarde was once on the books at Barcelona.

He didn't get much of a look in, though. Bogarde got off to a good start under Louis van Gaal, but injuries disrupted his first full season and by the time it came to his second, the ship had sailed as Deportivo won La Liga in 1999/00.

18. Jordi Cruyff (1994-1996)

Lothar Matthaus of Bayern Munich and Jordi Cruyff of Barcelona
Cruyff battles for possession / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

This one sounds harsh, but we're moving with it. He was a Cruyff, after all.

Unfortunately for Jordi, his father being one of the greatest ever was always going to hurt his career. Two years at Barcelona were average at best, and a move to Manchester United only stalled his career further. We all just wanted a little bit more.

17. Richard Witschge (1991-1993)

Primera Division - "FC Barcelona"
Witschge (right) with Ronald Koeman / VI-Images/Getty Images

Starting with Ajax, midfielder Witschge moved to La Blaugrana in 1991 and featured regularly. Perhaps too regularly for what he cost.

Then manager Johan Cruyff admitted he overpaid for the Dutch midfielder as a favour for the incoming board of directors at Ajax. Witschge was a fine rotation arm, though, and won back-to-back La Ligas as a squad option, not helped by the foreign player rulings.

16. Jasper Cillessen (2016-2019)

Jasper Cillessen
Cillessen was never the true number one / David Ramos/Getty Images

Signing after a successful few seasons with Ajax, there was an expectation that Cillessen could be Barcelona's number one.

It never happened and the Dutchman had to settle for a role in cup competitions where he was fine, but never did enough to force his way in. Healthy handful of honours, but not much more.

15. Boudewijn Zenden (1998-2001)

Boudewijn Zenden
Boudewijn Zenden celebrates / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Instead of settling for a limited role under Van Gaal with his usual left wing position being comfortably occupied, Zenden transformed his play to become a key part of a La Liga winning side.

Zenden operated as a wing back instead and found success with the tweak under Van Gaal until his 2000 departure. Things then fizzled out, and he moved on himself in 2001.

14. Ronald de Boer (1999-2000)

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De Boer in a fine kit / VI-Images/Getty Images

After near enough a decade of success with Ajax through the nineties, it was inevitable that Ronald de Boer and brother Frank would get the call for Barcelona sooner or later.

They got that call in January 1999, but Ronald failed to make it stick. A disappointing goal return saw him pack it in swiftly and find another Dutch contingent at Rangers. From sun and siestas to raincoats and deep fried mars bars.

13. Ruud Hesp (1997-2000)

Ruud Hesp
Ruud Hesp became number one / Getty Images/Getty Images

Another Dutchman entrusted by Van Gaal, an experienced and mid-30s Hesp was tasked with taking the number one spot between the sticks from Vitor Baia.

Hesp wasn't initially Van Gaal's top choice, but he came in and did a fine job at Barça. He missed just three league games out of 76 as they won La Liga in both 1997/98 and 1998/99.

12. Michael Reiziger (1997-2004)

Michael Reiziger of Barcelona and Igor Tudor of Juventus
All the ball there, Michael / Grazia Neri/Getty Images

Anyone who can rack up seven years of service for Barcelona gets the 90min seal of approval - the award every footballer so desperately craves.

Reiziger followed Van Gaal to the club in 1997 and was always a shrewd option at the back, while not being the first on the team sheet. Two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey and the Super Cup was Reiziger's trophy haul when he left on a free in 2004.

11. Frenkie de Jong (2019-)

Frenkie de Jong
Starboy / Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Arguably the strongest talent in an Ajax wonder squad that made the Champions League semi-final in 2019, De Jong's move to Barcelona was inevitable.

Despite moving to the club in arguably its most difficult period, De Jong has continued to develop into the generational midfielder people are expecting him to become. He'll be integral to any revival.

10. Marc Overmars (2000-2004)

Marc Overmars, Guerino Gottardi
Marc Overmars weaves through / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A £25m switch from Arsenal to Barcelona on the stroke of the millennium saw Overmars become the most expensive Dutch player in history. No pressure.

Injuries plagued and ultimately prematurely ended his time as a player at Camp Nou, but not before he could show off his wizardry. A team player with unrelenting creativity, the Dutchman was a hell of a player in a difficult period for the side.

9. Edgar Davids (2004)

Manchester United Legends v FC Barcelona Legends
Davids is considered a Barcelona legend / Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The eccentric, goggle wearing midfielder only played half a season of football with Barcelona during a loan spell while at Juventus, but he made it count.

Davids' short and sweet spell was perfect. He led the recovery route as Barcelona pulled back a struggling season under Frank Rijkaard and helped them finish second in the league. The perfect way to cement a relationship with the club. The perfect loan.

8. Mark van Bommel (2005-06)

Mark van Bommel, Daisuke Nasu
Van Bommel was a combative presence / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

A free transfer pickup for one season only, Van Bommel was brought in to make Barcelona's technical players look good.

While Xavi, Iniesta and Deco were strutting their stuff with fine passing and weaving, Van Bommel did the dirty work and broke up play at the base of midfield. It worked, too, as Barça won La Liga and the Champions League before he departed.

7. Giovanni van Bronckhorst (2003-2007)

Giovanni van Bronckhorst
Van Bronckhorst bleeds fluorescent Barcelona yellow / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Van Bronckhorst's humble career path is a storied one and shows his progression all the way up to Barcelona.

He signed in 2003 initially on loan after Frank Rijkaard took over as head coach and was an instant hit in a new left back role. Van Bronckhorst was a likeable character and a key cog in Barça's mid-2000s revival that saw them win back-to-back league titles and the Champions League.

6. Johan Neeskens (1974-1979)

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Proper cool / VI-Images/Getty Images

After impressing as Ajax dominated in Europe, 'Johan the Second' headed to Barcelona in 1974 and was a fan favourite.

Neeskens was yet another midfielder with all the elegance and ability you could possibly muster up. And while Barcelona weren't exactly successful, Neeskens was adored by fans for that reason of being yet another majorly talented Dutchman.

5. Phillip Cocu (1998-2004)

Phillip Cocu of Barcelona
Phillip Cocu was once a Barcelona player / Stu Forster/Getty Images

In between two spells with PSV, Cocu headed to La Blaugrana and became an integral fabric within the club's history.

Cocu formed midfields with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Luis Figo, Xavi and the rest, and was another Dutch component in the side. Barça's shortcomings at the time didn't affect his legacy; he left in 2004 as their most capped foreign player.

4. Frank de Boer (1999-2003)

Malaga v Barcelona X
Frank was more successful than Ronald / Firo Foto/Getty Images

A positive test for a banned substance in 2000 blemishes what was otherwise a fine stint with La Blaugrana for Frank de Boer.

Solid defensively with the IQ and physicality to bring the ball into attack, the Dutchman was a big asset to the club over a five year spell that lacked the usual haul of trophies. He won just one La Liga, but is highly regarded by the club and its fans.

3. Ronald Koeman (1989-1995)

Sao Paulo Captain and star striker Rai (R) steals
Koeman before his days as Barcelona manager / TORU YAMANAKA/Getty Images

That one that was a bit rubbish as Everton manager after a short while was a handy player; so handy that he played for Barcelona and is the only person to play for each of the Dutch big three.

Koeman was immense and complete. A defender by trade, the Dutchman had a knack for getting forward and scoring thunderous goals in a dominant 90s for Cruyff's Barça, particularly free-kicks. More set piece expert defenders, please.

2. Patrick Kluivert (1998-2004)

Primera Division - Barcelona
Kluivert was a star at Barcelona / VI-Images/Getty Images

After blossoming in a golden generation Ajax side, a season in Milan led to Kluivert ultimately signing for Louis van Gaal's Barcelona in 1998, reuniting from their Ajax days.

His time at Barça was again one lacking silverware, but Kluivert racked up a fine partnership with Rivaldo in his earlier La Liga winning year and was always the man most among the goals until his 2004 departure.

1. Johan Cruyff (1973-1978)

 - Barcelona
Total football. / VI-Images/Getty Images

No shocks here. Johan Cruyff is the ultimate footballer and Barcelona's greatest ever Dutchman by some distance.

Those five years shaped the club forever, with Cruyff blessing La Blaugrana with their first La Liga since 1960. Agility, IQ, excellence, there was nothing that Cruyff didn't have and his legacy can never be understated. His philosophies will always be in the game.