A little less than two years ago, Marc Overmars, Ajax sporting director, and Edwin Van der Sar, the general manager, uncorked a bottle of cava to toast with Josep Maria Bartomeu for the agreement for the transfer of Frenkie De Jong. The Dutch club had sealed the best sale in its history (75 million euros plus another eleven in variables) and the Barça leader a strategic signing that perpetuated Barça style and DNA, disrupting the intentions of clubs like PSG and Manchester City, which tempted the footballer with a much greater offer. De Jong acknowledged that he had met with Guardiola and Tuchel, but he opted for Barça because he put fun before money.
A year and a half after his arrival, he is neither amused nor finds his role in the field. Valverde could not find the key because it did not give him the freedom to unfold his potential as a constructive midfielder by forcing him to more defensive functions, so he played with the handbrake on. The arrival of Koeman excited the barcelonismo and De Jong himself, who saw the opportunity to shine under the baton of one of the coaches who knows him best (when he was coach he advised him to sign for Barça), although the result is still disappointing. Koeman has made De Jong, along with Messi, one of the few untouchables. He has only rested one game, against Dinamo to save him the cumbersome trip to Kiev, and the first half in Budapest. Fixed on the double pivot, it has even performed central functions when Lenglet or Piqué have suffered some setback. But he is still not comfortable.
Koeman’s tactical drawing is the subject of discussion in the locker room and debate in the stands. While fans do not like the lack of control it generates, footballers have asked him to reconsider the possibility of returning to the usual 4-3-3. The coach does not seem inclined to give his arm to twist, although against Levante he could assume some slight variation. In any case, Koeman must find the balance and the answer to make Frenkie De Jong shine again and respond to the expectations created when Bartomeu traveled to Amsterdam to personally convince him that his project would enhance his virtues. It is also up to the footballer to take a step forward. Especially because at Ajax he marveled at this same tactical system.
Until now, Griezmann has been the great depository of criticism from the environment and De Jong has tiptoed past, but has already received attention from Koeman himself. «Frenkie has lost too many balls, many more of what is usual in him, “he accused after the draw against Sevilla.