The appointment of Quique Setien as new Barcelona manager made many Barcelona fans happy. It is seen as a resurgence back to what they want to be, in terms of identity. Barca fans would know how the Spaniard goes about the playing style and how it will suit the club. It looks an ideal match and it is a match that has leading online bookmaker www.asiabet8888.com making them clear favourites for La Liga.
But apart from the club, as a whole, one man will benefit a lot from him. That is Frenkie de Jong.
The former Ajax star came to the Nou Camp this past summer for a fee of £65 million. After what was an impressive Champions League campaign with Ajax, De Jong was one of the players to breakout from the Amsterdam-based side. Considering the cultural connections between Ajax and Barca, the move was hardly a surprise. Their roots of playing in the same way made it look inevitable.
But De Jong has taken some time to settle in at Barca. The Dutchman couldn’t really figure out what his original position in the side is. He has played eight times in defensive midfield, playing in central midfield 18 times as well. But in a system that wasn’t as free-flowing as the one at Ajax was, he couldn’t always be at his best.
Having said that, he hasn’t been poor by any means. Club legend Xavi took note of one of his recent performances against Valencia.
He said (via FootballOranje): “He has everything. How he runs free, the power with which he starts, how he passes two and gives the last pass … And he also works for the team and is aggressive for the goal. He also does not lose sight of his position and does not suffer any loss of the ball.
“This boy is going to mark an era. But don’t forget Arthur and Rakitic. Barcelona has an exceptional midfield and can dominate matches very well.”
At Ajax, De Jong was part of the double pivot of the 4-2-3-1 alongside Lasse Schone. While his experienced midfield partner sat deeper, De Jong would often move forward. Being that connect between midfield and attack brought the best out of De Jong’s abilities.
Under Setien, he should be confident of being used very well. This is a manager who sparked the rise to prominence of Giovani Lo Celso and Napoli star Fabian Ruiz. These are two technical midfielders that thrived in Setien’s possession-based, high-pressing system at Real Betis.
In his last season at Betis in the 2018-19 campaign, Lo Celso was at his flowing best. Playing in a variety of positions, he had a hand in 22 goals in just 46 appearances. His development was a big reason for his move to English giants Tottenham this past summer.
As for Fabian, he was a regular for the Benito Villamarin side in the 2017-18 season. He was the central midfielder, playing 35 times and assisting six times while scoring thrice. He got a tally of 1 key pass per game, completing two dribbles per game too- getting the best out of his technical ability.
These technical players got the freedom to get on the ball and dictate play. Last season, Betis had the second-highest average possession per game in the La Liga- 59.4. In the 2017-18 season, that number stood at 55.9- only behind Barca and Real Madrid. Having more possession of the ball will always help the more technical players to shine.
The same will be true for De Jong as well. He could get the best out of himself in a similar sort of style under Erik ten Hag at Ajax. He could be that link between midfield and attack- something Setien’s system will make him do. And possibly being the most technically gifted midfielder in the side, he will benefit a lot from it.
Even under Ernesto Valverde, De Jong’s ability on the ball came to the fore. Out of regular players, De Jong had the best passing accuracy this season- 92.8. He was playing 57.8 passes per game too. That is a very impressive stat and shows what sort of a player De Jong is.
But now, the 22-year-old is in the right place and under the right manager. More than that, he will play in the perfect system for him. Soon, the sky will be the only limit.