World Primera Division: Why FC Bayern are also observing Frenkie de Jong's situation at Barca

19:10  04 march  2021
19:10  04 march  2021 Source:   spox.com

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After his less than satisfactory first season, Frenkie de Jong (23) is getting better and better at FC Barcelona. It is still questionable whether the Dutchman, who was finally transformed into eighth under Ronald Koeman, has a future in Catalonia.

  Primera Division: Warum auch der FC Bayern die Situation von Frenkie de Jong bei Barca beobachtet © Provided by SPOX

February 7th, 2021 promised not to be a very special day in the career of the Frenkie de Jong. The FC Barcelona midfielder should get a break from the away game against Real Betis. At least that was the plan of his trainer Ronald Koeman.

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But nothing came of it. Less than ten minutes were played when central defender Ronald Araujo injured himself and forced Koeman to find a provisional solution: The 57-year-old Dutchman ordered his compatriot de Jong to the defense center next to Clement Lenglet. A risky but smart move.

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Not only that de Jong fulfilled his unusual role solidly and calmly: He set a new pass record in LaLiga. Of 83 passes, he brought 83 to his teammates. Since detailed data collection (2005/06), no substitute player in the Spanish House of Lords had achieved a 100 percent pass rate.

Frenkie de Jong: No longer the pure structure creator

"Frenkie did it well", Koeman stated after the 3-2 victory, but also made it clear that the experiment with de Jong was not a permanent solution for him. "If we use him in central defense," said the Barca coach, "we will lose something in midfield."

To put it more concretely: control and danger. De Jong and super talent Pedri (18) form the creative center of the Catalans.

Unlike in the Ajax times, he is no longer the pure structure creator on the six, who picks up the ball from the back four and distributes it. Sergio Busquets is still responsible for this at Barca. De Jong acts mainly as figure eight in the half-spaces. A role with which he is getting along better and better after initial difficulties after moving to Barca in the summer of 2019. Otherwise, after 36 games this season, he would not have scored twelve goals (six goals, six assists).

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"We worked on his offensive game in particular," revealed Koeman, who was signed at the beginning of the season, in January, and summed up that de Jong is now "more complete" than at Ajax.

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Erik ten Hag and Ruud Gullit are likely to share this view. Ten Hag had publicly questioned the role of his former Ajax protégé at Barca in February 2020. De Jong is "not a goalscorer" and has to "play on the six" in order to use his potential. And 1988 European champion Gullit sharply criticized de Jong's style of play shortly afterwards: "He may be the perfect son-in-law, but a lot more has to come from him. He doesn't get involved enough."

There can be no more talk of that today. In Barcelona they are very happy with the development of the right foot. However, it is unclear where its future lies. De Jong's contract was prematurely extended to 2026 in December, but , the Catalans' overwhelming debt mountain , could make him a sales candidate this summer, according to various media reports.

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Some top clubs - including FC Bayern, who is looking for a midfielder - are monitoring the situation and are in contact with de Jong's agent Ali Dursun. "Despite all the financial difficulties, I cannot imagine that Barca will give him up," said Damia Lopez, reporter for Catalan radio station RAC1 , on SPOX and Goal . "De Jong is one of the best players on the team right now, an important part of the upheaval."

Does the future head of Blaugrana share this opinion? Barca's long-awaited presidential elections are due on March 7th. Only then will it be seen what happens to potential box office fillers like de Jong.

Frenkie de Jong from FC Barcelona in profile May 1997 in Arkel, NetherlandsHeight 1.80 mWeight74 kgPositionCentral midfieldStrong right footstationsASV Arkel youth, Willem II youth, Ajax B, Ajax, FC BarcelonaProfessional games / goals / assists (club level) 168/13/23

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