Between veterans and young people, De Jong

De Jong executes a pass during the Cup final.

It is not surprising that at the end of training, Frenkie De Jong [Arkel, Países Bajos; 23 años] he stayed with Koeman for a few minutes to talk about football, the position, how to improve and fit in, especially since he was the Barça joker, capable of playing central, midfielder, interior, occasional winger and even false tip. The football talk is something that took a liking in the Ajax subsidiary, with his teammates De Ligt and Carel Eiting, passionate around the ball. “It can be said that the coach has marked him closely …”, they joke in the sports city of Barça; “But Frenkie is the perfect student because of his desire to learn and improve, because he is a professional like the crown of a pine tree.” In La Cartuja, the coach asked De Jong to come to the area when he played inside. The Cup final was the best example, the best Frenkie.

“Ronald talks to us a lot, guides us with small details that improve us,” says a youth squad from the dressing room. But with De Jong he places special emphasis because he has the ability to develop the idea of ​​Barça, the identity of a club that builds bridges, roots and plays with Ajax and with the figure of Johan Cruyff. Also because he is claimed to be one of the champions of the future, also the link between young people and veterans now that the team squeezes the last years of Messi, Busquets and Piqué while precious stones such as Ansu, Ilaix, Araujo and Pedri. “Frenkie must take more command of the team in the future,” Koeman requested after two months at the Camp Nou. “When he speaks, you listen to him because he has authority, football knowledge and because he was a great player before,” De Jong said in an interview for UEFA. But his best answer was delivered in the final against Athletic, a delivery and football recital crowned with the assistance of the first goal, the header for the second goal and a new assistance to Messi in the third, also participatory in the fourth when the team wove a play of 60 touches and a round of 2 minutes and 26 seconds in which the 11 players touched the ball.

The midfielder, dissatisfied with his first Barça course, was clear: “I must score more goals and give more assists.” No sooner said than done. He adds seven goals and eight assists (by two and four from the previous year), scoring figures that only surpass Messi (31), Griezmann (15) and Dembélé (10). Numbers, in addition, better than in Ajax (1 and 9 in the first year; 3 and 4 in the second), only matched in his last year at the subsidiary. An argument that explains his adaptation and that blurs the fixed 75 million plus 11 in variables that the club paid for him. The Dutchman, like others, took a turn to take his photo with Messi and the trophy and the one that he would offer his girlfriend, Mikky Kiemeney, who asked him on Saturday night for a goal for his birthday.

And that it was difficult for De Jong to enter the dynamics of the team, then too vitiated and not very predisposed to exercise hard because they had already won everything, the player also reluctant to share dressing room parties because he prefers to have dinner and rest. “It’s just like that, as nice as it is calm,” defines a dressing room veteran.

But this time he laughed like the most, perhaps because it is his first Barça title after 86 games with the shirt. “He knew it was a matter of time before his football fit in with that of Barça. Now, he must lead this team in the future together with Ter Stegen, Pedri and Ansu ”, they point out in the Barça sports area. With Koeman on the bench, it will be easier for him.

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