Owen Wijndal: Things to know about the Dutch full-back

Owen Wijndal in action for AZ Alkmaar
Owen Wijndal in action for AZ Alkmaar / ANP Sport/Getty Images

Ever since the days of Johan Cruyff, there has always been some sort of Dutch influence on Barcelona. And with Ronald Koeman at the helm of the club, that influence seems to be growing with every transfer rumour that appears.

There's been little secrecy over the Barça boss' desire to bring in Matthijs de Ligt and Georginio Wijnaldum to bolster La Blaugrana's Dutch contingent. And the latest name to be thrown into the Barcelona rumour mill is left back Owen Wijndal, who has recently been touted to be the heir of the long-serving Jordi Alba.

That's a pretty big role. So, who is he? Well, here's what you need to know.

1. He's already played 100 times for AZ Alkmaar

Still only 21 years of age, Wijndal ended the 2020/21 campaign with his 100th appearance for AZ Alkmaar, with whom he has been since the age of 11.

The left back became a full regular in the starting XI in the 2019/20 season after struggling to properly break through previously and, throughout 2020/21, didn't a miss a single second of football for the club - now that's regular.

2. He's captained AZ

Owen Wijndal
Owen Wijndal with the captain's armband / BSR Agency/Getty Images

Wijndal is AZ's vice-captain and, in Teun Koopmeiners' absence, he captained the club on three occasions during the latter stages of the season.

He assumed the armband against Sparta Rotterdam in April and RKC Waalwijk and Fortuna Sittard in May - leading the team to victory every time.

3. He's represented the Netherlands at every youth level

The Netherlands have always had a history of producing top young talent, so to represent them at youth level is a feat in itself.

But Wijndal can go one - or six or seven - better. The 21-year old has represented his nation at every youth level, ranging from the Under-15s to the Under-21s.

4. He's now a full international

After his success with the youth teams, Wijndal was called up to the senior Netherlands squad for the first time in September and made his debut in October, aged 20.

Since then, the left back has received seven caps, started five of the Flying Dutchmen's last six matches and has claimed his regular number five shirt for himself leading into this summer's European Championships.

5. He's great on the ball

Wijndal is very much the modern-day full back. As well as good defensive ability, the 21-year is excellent going forward and has attracted a lot of attention for his assist-making.

Last season he registered a goal and seven assists in the Eredivisie while this time term he managed one goal and six - 13 assists over two league campaigns from the back line, not bad. Meanwhile, he has already grabbed three assists in his seven international caps, proving he's a huge attacking and creative force.

He has also gathered recognition for his ability to spread play effectively. AZ manager Pacal Jansen uses Pep Guardiola's technique of inverting full backs and using them as an extra central midfielder - a responsibility that has fallen on Wijndal for the most part. This has forced the youngster to develop play making ability as well as threat from the flank, which can only attract a club like Barcelona even more.

6. His contract runs until 2023

Wijndal signed his last contract extension back in 2018, which saw him tied to AZ until the summer of 2023.

Although it will certainly require a fee to persuade his current employers to let him depart, a contract with two years remaining may allow La Blaugrana to not spend much more than the reported €13m they want to pay.

7. He's wanted by Ajax

Nicolas Tagliafico
Ajax see Owen Wijndal as the ideal replacement for Nicolas Tagliafico / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Barça will face competition from Dutch giants Ajax, who have identified Wijndal as the ideal candidate to replace the departing Nicolas Tagliafico.

However, despite their strong desire to bring the 21-year old in, Ajax director of football Marc Overmars has admitted that it would be difficult due to the club's financial situation.

Speaking to De Telegraaf, Overmars said (via football-oranje.com): "I cannot deny that this would be a very good player for us.

"A young boy, Dutchman and starting international. I think I can do business in Alkmaar. But whether I do that is another matter.

"We have mainly lost money financially. Equity is plunging and we are obliged to sell."

8. FIFA 21 rating and potential

You'll find Wijndal at a very decent 79 base overall rating on FIFA career mode which, at 20 years old (at the beginning of a save), makes him a huge asset.

And with the right training regime and regular game time, the left back has a potential of 85 - not to be sniffed at.