This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Louis van Gaal recently spoke to Fox Sports at a Dutch gala and he talked about some of the awards that were handed out and also particularly about Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, both of whom made big transfers over the summer.
The former went to Barcelona and the latter ended up at Juventus. Van Gaal, however, believes that the Catalans and Ernesto Valverde are not really utilising De Jong the way they’re supposed to be. Mundo Deportivo also states that De Jong himself had to justify his time of adaptation since he found himself playing in some different roles from the ones he had at Ajax.
Here’s what Van Gaal had to say:
“Barcelona are not using [Frenkie] De Jong’s qualities well,”, he suggested and then continued, concluding: “it’s about adapting to it”.
And that statement can especially be applied to Barcelona’s recent ventures in La Liga. De Jong was one of the Catalans’ big summer signings and just his price tag and undeniable quality suggested that he would bring quite a revolution in their midfield. But so far, he’s been uncharacteristically quiet which was mostly due to a simple fact: Ernesto Valverde is not utilising his qualities to the fullest.
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That much was visible in the first couple of games he played so far in La Liga. But that also seems like a pretty common thing in the team, and it’s something that cost Philippe Coutinho his career at Barcelona and judging by the initial games of the Dutchman at the Catalan capital, Valverde might want to rethink De Jong’s preferences once again.
Last weekend, Barcelona drew with Osasuna and De Jong, although pretty solid, was quiet for his standards. He still managed to deploy two key passes with 93.4% passing accuracy but he was subbed off in the second half and even admitted himself at that same gala that he knows he can play better and that he has to grow in this new role.
But would it be too big of a stretch to say Valverde is slightly missing the trick by not utilising his big midfield reinforcement in a proper way and that it, in fact, might be affecting their overall performances?
Maybe there is something in Van Gaal’s words that the Ant should consider going forward.