The Dutchman felt he was more influential at Camp Nou last term, but still sees plenty of room for improvement in his game
Frenkie de Jong has admitted that he was an “ordinary player” in his debut season at Barcelona while outlining his ambition to reach new heights in 2021-22.
Barca paid €75 million (£65m/$91m) to bring De Jong to Camp Nou from Ajax in the summer of 2019, bringing to an end his impressive three-year spell at Johan Cruyff ArenA.
However, the Dutchman was unable to live up to expectations in his first season with the Blaugrana as they failed to win a trophy for the first time in 12 years.
What’s been said?
De Jong concedes that he failed to maximise his time on the pitch for Barca, whose miserable campaign was compounded by an 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The 24-year-old, who is currently away with the Netherlands at Euro 2020, told Voetbal International : “My first year at Barça was fine, I played a lot of minutes, but in my opinion, I was just an ordinary player.
“This year I’ve been able to show myself better and played better in a lot of games, although I still think I can take steps forward and keep growing.
“I hope we still see a better De Jong.”
De Jong’s second season at Camp Nou
De Jong continued to hold down a regular place in Barca’s starting XI after Ronald Koeman was drafted in to replace Quique Setien in the managerial hot seat last summer.
The talented midfielder helped the Blaugrana fight for La Liga and earned his first piece of silverware in the form of the Copa del Rey, recording seven goals and eight assists in 51 appearances across all competitions.
Club president Joan Laporta recently confirmed that Koeman will remain Barca’s head coach for at least one more year, which left De Jong delighted.
“Obviously it’s not necessary for me to even say how happy I am that Koeman’s staying on,” he said of his compatriot.
De Jong on his preferred position
De Jong has been deployed in several different positions during his time at Barca, including in the defence.
The former Ajax star prefers playing in a more natural central midfield role, but says he will always give his all regardless of where the manager decides to put him on the pitch.
“I don’t mind where the coach puts me,” De Jong added. “I prefer midfield but if I have to play at the back, I do. It’s all a question of confidence at the end of the day.
“I notice that confidence from my coaches, my team-mates, the media… it’s a nice feeling, so I don’t mind where I play, wherever the team needs me.”