De Jong is finally starting to look like the player Barcelona thought they were buying from Ajax.
All hope seemed lost when Barcelona lost to Cadiz at the beginning of December, followed by a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Juventus.
But Ronald Koeman’s men have not lost in eight games since then, and much of the team’s success has centred around an upturn in form – in a changed role – from Frenkie de Jong.
Koeman was adamant that De Jong would be used in a double pivot under his stewardship, but as the Blaugrana continued to slip down the table he had a change of heart.
That loss to Juventus has been somewhat of a turning point for the team, with six wins and two draws in La Liga having them back up into third place and just a point behind Real Madrid.
De Jong has been freed to play in a more advanced role in the midfield three with Sergio Busquets as the sole sitter and Pedri on the other side in recent weeks.
The Dutchman took the limelight during Ajax’s terrific Champions League run in 2019, earning himself a move to Barca in the summer and then a La Liga title in his first season.
But the No.21 has been largely scapegoated for a series of rather absent displays of sideways passing and an overall lack of progression – that is until this change in his role.
Across those eight games post-Juve, no team in La Liga has scored more than Barcelona’s 17 goals, with De Jong himself contributing to four of those directly – two goals and two assists.
In fact, the 23-year-old has just about doubled his production across the pitch, in an attacking sense. Before the 13th of December, De Jong was averaging just 0.27 chances created per 90 minutes, but since then has improved drastically to average a chance created in every match. Continue reading
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