With the football summer transfer window set to open on June 10th, rumours have begun circling around some of the world’s hottest prospects. Among those names is Frenkie de Jong, whose time at Barcelona looks like it could be coming to an end.
Here at NetBet, we’ve taken a look at the Dutch midfielder’s profile and assessed where he might best fit. Check out the NetBet blog for previews and betting tips on the sporting calendar’s biggest events.
Is Frenkie de Jong World Class?
De Jong has had a quietly successful but unspectacular time at Camp Nou following his £77 million move from Ajax. Barcelona made their intentions clear following Ajax’s incredible Champions League run, which eventually saw them knocked out in remarkable fashion by Tottenham in the semi-finals. De Jong’s persistent ticking over of play in the centre of midfield was nothing short of a perfect fit for Barcelona’s historic style.
The 25-year-old has been a mainstay in the heart of Barcelona’s midfield in the last three years, racking up just shy of 100 La Liga appearances as well as featuring 28 times in the Champions League. Despite his only medal coming in the form of a Copa del Rey victory last season, his underlying numbers highlight his importance to this Barcelona team, especially under Xavi. If he’s not world class yet, he’s certainly not far off.
Frenkie de Jong’s Style of Play
De Jong’s main asset is his passing – of course, he was cultivated in the Netherlands. It’s no wonder he’s one of the first names on Xavi’s team sheet either – his stats are among the best in La Liga. His 89.9% pass completion in the league this season ranks him in the 96th percentile. In a league with a traditionally slower tempo and plenty of technical nous, he is one of the best when it comes to ball retention.
De Jong also sits in the 99th percentile for completed through balls per 90, making him a huge asset for teams looking to unlock the low block (ie. possession dominant sides). However, in spite of his on-ball qualities, it’s unlikely he can excel at the base of a three-man midfield. He is dribbled past more times per 90 minutes than 95% of La Liga’s midfielders, and his 0.26 tackles per 90 in the defensive third is among the worst in Spain.
Where Should Frenkie de Jong go?
It comes as no surprise to see Manchester United sniffing around Frenkie de Jong given their problems in central midfield. Is reuniting with former manager Erik ten Hag the best move? They’ll be wary about his defensive shortcomings given the amount of possession United are willing to concede – but that could all change under the new coach.
Not only does his passing efficiency make him the ideal man for Ten Hag to build his new-look midfield around, but his ball carrying ability is perfectly suited to the Premier League too – his progressive ball carrying ranks among the 98th percentile this season. What will stand out most to any prospective buyer in England is his 11 passes per 90 under pressure. United have been crying out for a deep lying playmaker who is confident in collecting the ball in their own third. In a league which has seen the high press become commonplace, his ability to accurately find teammates under pressure is priceless.
Whilst his stats must be taken in the context of playing for a strong Barcelona team in a slower tempo league, there’s no doubt that Frenkie de Jong would bolster any midfield in the Premier League, but where he plays his football next season remains to be seen.