Frank de Jong: Press or enter? The relocation of Barcelona is difficult

Regular viewers in Barcelona will be aware of what is happening.

Barça are struggling in the game, trying to destroy their opponents who are bravely defending them. About an hour later, a fourth worker holds a 21st-minute board.

This continues to happen. Tuesday night’s game at home to Celta Vigo, De Jong had completed just 90 minutes 13 of 33 games since Xavi took over as coach last November. The issue was further complicated by Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano’s recent home defeat, when the Dutchman was whistled by fans on his way to the bench and Barca lost both games 1-0.

Meanwhile, Catalan journalists continue to promote the idea that Barça wants to sell the 24-year-old, especially if the Manchester club offer more money this summer.

No one is expected when Barca paid € 86 million to sign Europe’s most reliable midfielder from Ajax in the summer of 2019. Germany. And one without a simple answer.


The controversy over how to use De Jong effectively has been growing since he arrived almost three years ago. Midway through last season, it looked like Barca coach Ronald Koeman had found the answer with the most aggressive part that De Jong went into the box all the time to make his own or establish a team. But the purple patch did not last long – for players or coaches.

Xavi’s return to the Nou Camp dugout did not solve the problem. Veteran Sergio Busquets would remain unmoved in the middle of the 4-3-3 squad. De Jong often plays in the same offensive line, but often does not attract attention, especially compared to youngsters Pedri and Gavi.

Pedri’s natural passing and placement make the team more aggressive, with Gavi adding strength and biting that blaugrana fans and professionals love. De Jong often just walks into a game, seemingly unsure of what to do. Several times he assisted Busquets as a midfielder did not go well.

“Frenkie is very important,” Xavi said last month. “He has to put time in this club. I’m happy with him, and he has to keep going. He has to score goals, help, and be the protagonist in the game.”

No one doubts that De Jong is capable of doing this, but it has not yet happened. There has been a time – his 32 games under Xavi brought four goals and three assists. The best performance was at Napoli in a Europa League match in February where they showed off their best performances with a 20-yard touchdown run.

This was his final goal, and he has no one to support him in his last 15 games. As the team’s form declined after the March 4-0 Clasico victory over Madrid, the grumbling intensified. Appropriately, or not, De Jong gets a lot of frustration from Barca fans when things go awry.


De Jong was signed to become a favorite in 2019 but was due to find a place in Barcelona (Photo: David Ramos / Getty Images)

Players and coaches know that things are not going well. Xavi’s vision for the team differs from that of his former manager Pep Guardiola, with “inside” players now being told to run ahead of the ball. He has been providing De Jong with specially designed videos to show what he wants, especially where he can receive the ball and how to connect with his teammates.

This is welcomed by a player who through his career has loved to watch his game to see where he has been wrong, yet there is a painful feeling of dismissal. When asked after the recent 2-1 win over Mallorca on Movistar TV if he felt he was being supported by his coach, the answer was short.

“We had a good discussion,” De Jong said. “My boss says he trusts me. So everyone is happy. ”

Voice tone and facial expressions have not been 100 percent satisfactory. It was left open if the story was the way he viewed her on TV, or within the group.

De Jong was then asked if there was any disappointment at the end of Barca’s season – without trophies and a fight to make the top four and make the Champions League next season.

“Yes, very disappointing,” she replied. “We haven’t been well this year, but I hope we will continue to do well and next year could be different.”


Around the Nou Camp, there are two well-thought-out schools in the case of De Jong.

One is that there is still time – he is 25 years old today and he has the potential and the ability to lead the team in the years to come. The other is that he never had the record he had when he arrived, and the time has come for him to try to repay as much as he can for the € 86 million spent on him.

Barca’s financial woes – their huge debts and difficult to meet La Liga payroll rules – are also a major factor in Laporta and Germany’s ambitions.

Club managers can see that it is politically acceptable to sell De Jong. Introducing other players in the market – Pedri, Gavi, Ronald Araujo, Ansu Fati – could cause a stir among fans. Even those who want to sell – including Sergino Dest, Neto, Martin Braithwaite, Samuel Umtiti, Miralem Pjanic, Clement Lenglet and Memphis Depay – will not have the chance to get the money Barca needs this summer. Aston Villa making Philippe Coutinho loan shots can be a big help, but it is not guaranteed.

De Jong and those close to him are well aware of what is happening. Back in December, his father John told Dutch AD book: “I know Barcelona want the money and a great deal of Frenkie’s donation would help, but I don’t see it happening.” This had just happened after Laporta left that De Jong “should ride” if he wanted to have a long-term future on the team.

Following Rayo’s defeat last month, Barcelona technical secretary Jordi Cruyff said on Spanish television that “De Jong is a favorite player of the club and the market”. When asked if this meant that sales were being considered, Cruyff replied: “This is not the time to discuss such issues. We have come to achieve the club’s goals.”

Much depends on what happens. This summer I am sure we will see more and take action as Germany tries to fix the team according to the La Liga win trophy.

Barca should sell players as soon as the window opens. If the club had offered € 70 million to De Jong, it would have been difficult for Laporta and Germany to refuse. He is also one of the richest people in the organization, with about € 11 million a year after taxes. Funds collected and saved can be recouped in other team areas that need to be strengthened – back and forth backwards – without damaging the entire team type.

It is clear that, although the midfielder is the strongest part of the team, Barca have already agreed to bring Franck Kessie of Ivory Coast from Milan for a free transfer. He also looked forward to signing Carlos Soler from Valencia, trying to take advantage of the Spanish international player who has 12 months left on his € 20 million deal.


Barcelona would return a large sum of money to De Jong, which could be returned to other parts of the team (Photo: David S. Bustamante / Soccrates / Getty Images)

“Signing is a money transfer,” Xavi said Monday. “Everything depends on money. This is difficult, but it is very real. We know who we want to leave. The financial situation of the team is going well for us.

The clubs that may be interested and the money they can donate to De Jong this summer are all in Manchester. City are keen to return to their Ajax days, and are looking to add midfielders this summer as Fernandinho leaves. United are also looking at how to reunite De Jong with his former Ajax coach and Old Trafford manager Erik ten Hag.

The hardest part could be to persuade De Jong to leave. Although he has expressed frustration recently with local news, he also said he enjoys life in the Catalan capital and wants to stay. Earlier this year he and a friend bought a new € 5 million new home in the Pedralbes area of ​​the city. He was one of the key players who agreed in 2020 to fund the team by suspending his salary while extending his contract until 2026. A professional who knows how to persuade him to leave would be particularly difficult for the United team playing. The Europa League is doing very well next season.

So there is no easy solution to any problem. It is still possible for Xavi to become Barca coach to fulfill De Jong as a key member of the team. But it is also possible that Laporta and Germany are looking at the numbers and want to go.

(Top photo: David S. Bustamante / Socrates / Getty Images)

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