The Ajax Farewell and The Revival of Frenkie De Jong at Barcelona
        The Ajax Farewell and The Revival of Frenkie De Jong at Barcelona

The Ajax Farewell and The Revival of Frenkie De Jong at Barcelona

Eredivisie     Ajax     Barcelona    

By Anuran Haloi | Published on 6:08 PM, 27 Jan 2021


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Frenkie De Jong is a player for the ages to come. The aesthetic, the passion, and the drive to prove himself on the biggest of occasions sets him apart. At the dying moment of the game against Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa final 2021, Frenkie suffered a blow to his face. He stood up, straightened his chin and shook his shoulder, and move on. When Barcelona lost the match, the camera was panning towards him. He didn’t leave the field. It was a hard defeat to swallow. But he didn’t hide behind the comfort of the dressing room. He stayed in the dugout and the camera captured the painful image of dejected Frenkie with a swollen face. Frenkie De Jong defines the Barcelona DNA, if any of that’s left of the great Club of Johan Cruyff. At the dying moments of Barcelona’s humiliation against Bayern Munich, he was the only one who somewhat wanted to make a difference. Apart from him, only Suarez showed some heart in that game. The team had already lost the game at half time. But Frenkie didn’t. He will lose many battles in his long career at Blaugrana, but never the war. He will fight and fight until his breath runs out. Frenkie De Jong is a player for the ages to come and for the generations to devour.  

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Frenkie de Jong has played his last game as an Ajax player at the Johan Cruyff Arena in may,2019 and won the championship for the first time in five years for Ajax. The beloved Ajax player played for the club for 4 years. His farewell was nothing but an emotional spectacle. Ajax took out a page in Mundo Deportivo newspaper to wish Frenkie good luck at his dream club Barcelona. The club where his idols grew up and the club where he dreamt of playing all his life.

Ajax loved him unconditionally and he loved Ajax with all his heart. He was one of those players of Ajax who astounded the whole world with their football in the 2018-19 season and the European campaign. Everyone at Ajax knew he will leave the Dutch capital one day for sure. They were prepared. He went on to join his dream club Barcelona in 2019. A bus in Amsterdam waved a message that said “Barca, Enjoy the future. As we do”.

Oh, it was a fairy tale. A dream too good to be true. La Liga promised to take care of him.

But yeah the next part of the dream wasn’t what Frenkie would have hoped. A disaster in management and turmoil at the higher authority axed his dream season for worse. A defeat to the Arc Rivals Real Madrid at the La Liga race, a shocking humiliation at Champions League, and a trophyless season. A lot of criticism directed towards the wonder boy of Barcelona. But he took everything like a man. He didn’t shy away from criticism. Finally after one and a half years he has found his place in the Barcelona lineup and never looked back.

But this shouldn't be much surprising too as the 23-year-old is UEFA midfielder of the year once so he will offer the team a lot and the Dutch connection with Koeman is very much working here as it did for Netherlands national team.

The news that the midfielder would be signing for Barça just over two years ago brought smiles to the faces of Barça fans, his emergence as a goalscorer has done just the same. Against Elche Frenkie de Jong scored his sixth goal as a Blaugrana. 

  • Barça - Valencia (Liga 2019/20). 
  • Betis - Barça (Liga 2019/20). 
  • Barça - Real Sociedad (Liga 2020/21). 
  • Huesca - Barça (Liga 2020/21). 
  • Real Societat - Barça (Super Cup 2020/21). 
  • Elche - Barça (Liga 2020/21). 

In his last 6 games, the Dutchman scored 3 goals and assisted twice. One of which was a towering scorpion header against Sociedad at the semi-final of Supercopa. His intentions were clear from the beginning. 

Frenkie and His Adaptability

He is very different than the other midfielder of Barcelona in recent time. He is not like Rakitic or Busquets or Vidal. He is aesthetically very pleasing. He runs all over the field. He is versatile. When there is no natural center-back available for Barcelona, which was the case for Barcelona at the start of the season 2020-21, Frenkie played as a center back. He is a box-to-box midfielder and has a tactical understanding of the pace of the game.

De Jong’s fitness is great he doesn't look tired and keeps his pace the same till the end. His decent with dribbling. The most important attribute that Frenkie added was his goal-scoring ability. Now he is more and more involved in the box. He likes to drive forward. His recent goal scoring form proves that. The Dutch is consistently performing for the team or in other words his performance ratings is mostly above 7.

The Dutch midfielder would often sit in kind of a loose double pivot while playing back home with the Dutch National Team, dropping between the center-backs to collect the ball at times. In his first season at Barcelona, he was shifted to a position to the side of a midfield three, as Sergio Busquets was the sole pivot. It was not a position he preferred to play. Ronald Koeman, coach of the Dutch national team at the time, actually mentioned that De Jong would thrive when played in his best position, central as opposed to the shuffling number eight he didn’t seem comfortable as.

Fortune turned for De Jong when Koeman took over at Barcelona. The expectation was that he’d replace Busquets as the sole pivot in a 4-3-3. But like the other coaches in the past Koeman couldn’t just replace Busquets. He even Pjanic to play Busquets and De Jong together. The same Pjanic who was the chief Talisman at Juventus. Koeman opted for a 4-2-3-1 in his initial months, with De Jong beside Busquets in a double pivot.

It didn’t work and the Catalan press berated Koeman for his tactics, claiming the 4-3-3 is a sacred part of Barcelona’s identity. Eventually, he gave in, and De Jong was again shunted out to a number eight role on either side of Busquets.

But the role shifted again in the recent month. Koeman showed his versatility and apparently taken De Jong aside and advised him on how to thrive in his new role, and it’s paying dividends. De Jong is playing with reckless abandon, breaking forward and causing damage in the final third as well as showcasing his neat range of passing. It’s an exciting time ahead of him. It’s a risky business to play De Jong like that. But for the time being it’s what got them the results.

De Jong, as a character and a player, is perfect for Barcelona. With young men like Ronald Araujo, Pedri, and Ansu Fati, he’s proven himself to be capable of wearing the Blue and Red of Blaugrana.

If we look at each season individually, the 2020/21 campaign is the most prolific for the Dutchman. Four goals in 25 matches, a record that is an improvement on the three in 48 matches in 2018/19 and the one in 24 in the 2017/18 campaign.

Aside from his goalscoring stats, De Jong is second in the table at Barça in terms of recovering the ball with 144 and third in assists with four so far. 

The best is yet to come for the Dutchman. We are excited already. The Future of new Barcelona is exciting.


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