We have now passed a year from the moment of completion, and it is worth spending time to evaluate the debut season of the Dutch international in Catalonia, both good and bad aspects of this.
€75 million to bring natural talent
From Frankie de Jong’s appearances in Ajax’s magical campaign 2018/19. It was clear that he was a player of exclusively natural talent, so Barcelona paid €75 million to bring him to Camp Nou. We have now passed a year from the moment of completion, and it is worth spending time to evaluate the debut season of the Dutch international in Catalonia, both good and bad aspects of this. It was not a whirlwind success then many at the club expected. Although much of this can be reduced to the inconsistent nature of the team around him. Ernesto Valverde never seemed confident in his best XI, and he saw De Jong play with different players every week.
Frankie had to manage the team from midfield as Andres Iniesta used to be
Continuing into the era of the Quique Setien, De Jong is almost always present in the middle of the field. The club’s confidence in it was demonstrated by their decision to force Arthur Melo from the exit door to Juventus. De Jong adapted well to Spain’s life and put forward a generally high level of performance, although he did not reach what was expected. He had to come into Barcelona and immediately manage the team from midfield, as Andres Iniesta used to be. In the 2019/20 season, Frankie played 38 matches in all competitions, and of these matches was the starting one in 34 of them. It has equaled a total of 2,997 minutes on the field and in LaLiga. So he completed the second-most passes in the Blaugrana team, with Sergio Busquets making his 1,438 just behind 2,232.
The current coach of the Netherlands national team, Ronald Koeman, explained that the midfielder plays a different role in what he did earlier. De Jong has a contract until June 2024, and it is too early to judge him as a signing. As happened with Luka Modric after his debut season at Real Madrid. After recovering from the injury, De Jong is expected to join the Cules for the match against Osasuna on Thursday after missing the last six games. For Setien, De Jong’s return is key to restarting the Champions League in August. So he is likely to be on the team to face a potentially challenging second leg against Napoli.