The shyness caused by the magnitude of a transatlantic like Barcelona has a new victim. A victim that was previously renowned for being the complete opposite to shy on the pitch: expressive, extroverted. Frenkie de Jong has fallen into transparency, irrelevance, and even when the blaugranas’ midfield dominated in the first half, it was Busquets and Arthur who were the leading figures. In the second period, the Dutchman should have been a weapon against Madrid’s suffocating pressure, but that didn’t happen either.
When De Jong arrived to the Camp Nou, there was one thing clear: he would succeed here. Not only would he succeed, but he would instantly solve the team’s problems through his personality and ability to move his side to his own rhythm. He was the most applauded signing by the club in years. So highly did we speak of him that now we feel uncomfortable when criticising him or talking about his low production.
To be honest, from all the issues Barça has at present, Frenkie is one of the ones that worry me the least. Why? Because I am still convinced that he will succeed here, that it’s just a matter of time and that, once he makes that ‘click’, he will become even better than what we anticipated him to be. Even so, expectations are really high with him for a reason, and that’s because he is or can be one of the best midfielders in the world. We must be very demanding with him because his potential is frightening and we don’t want to waste any of it.
All the qualities that made him special, though, have shrunk in Spain. His youth has become innocence, his fearlessness has turned into shyness, and his gift has converted into impotence. The 22-year-old is denatured by a transition from Ajax to Barcelona that looked straightforward at first, but that has become complex and problematic. The freedom he had under Ten Hag has evolved into a rigid role with the culés. That said, it’s something natural that just requires a long learning process. Patience and time.
The acquisition of the vivid dancer encouraged certainty, but the world of football is full of unfulfilled certainties. Notwithstanding, it is clear to me that Frenkie won’t belong to one of these.