The news hit like a bomb. Frenkie de Jong has reportedly decided to play for FC Barcelona after the Catalan club raised their offer to €90m thereby outbidding the likes of PSG and Manchester City.
Despite none of this being officially confirmed yet (and knowing all too well the dangers of relying on Twitter based fake/anticipated news), I’d be lying if I said the rumor didn’t excite me. I have been thrilled ever since Frenkie’s name became related with a possible move to Catalunya over a year ago.
Since then I’ve carefully watched his progress and style of play with both Ajax and the Dutch national team. It soon became evident that the prospect of having De Jong light up the Barça midfield just made sense. Much like Arthur, the Dutchman has got fantastic vision, ability to dictate the pace of the game, organizational capabilities and surprising strength and speed.
Yet despite having these qualities that make him a multifaceted player certainly capable of playing in Busquets’ position, where Frenkie has truly shown to feel at home is on the offensive end. When the opponent has the ball it’s noticeable that he’s not as motivated as Sergio Busquets to regain possession. He lacks defensive discipline; therefore I believe it would be wrong to force him to play in a position that limits his talents.
I also believe that, if there’s any truth to the ongoing Adrien Rabiot rumors, instead the PSG outcast will be slotted into the center mid. That would leave a potentially mouthwatering midfield consisting of Arthur, Busi and De Jong.
But naturally these high transfer/salary fees and crop of new players arriving will have some serious consequences. I’ll go so far as to say that this upcoming summer we will see changes that’ll shake up the transfer market. It’s the only way Barça can make any of this work while being financially responsible.
Who will be affected by next summer’s Barcexit? It’s tough to say. Over the past summers there have been a handful of players who have been linked with a move elsewhere but have not managed to do so due to their high wages and/or not finding the right suitors. That said, I think it’s fair to say that the likes of Rafinha, Denis Suarez and those on loan will most likely not be included in next season’s squad.
We’ll see how Big Sam Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen will cope with their injuries and the remainder of the season now that it’s hitting crunch time. If all goes well, it would logically mean that Jeison Murillo would be on his way out. With Matthijs de Ligt now reportedly closer to a move to City that leaves a chance for Chumi to get some minutes, and dare I say Juan Miranda and Moussa Wagué? The big question in the defense is what Valverde will do with Nélson Semedo and Sergi Roberto. Semedo is the natural fit yet when Sergi is healthy the Portuguese is rarely the preferred choice.
As for the midfield, here’s where the club can make some serious bank. I suspect that Ivan Rakitic will be leaving. I’ll even go so far as to add Coutinho to that list. In particular if he continues to underwhelm up top. Clearly MSD is working and must be the way forward. The midfield, for which Philippe was originally brought in (yet is not being played) will likely be occupied by Arthur, Frenkie, Busi and have Carles Aleñà, Riqui Puig, Arturo Vidal and Adrien Rabiot as subs. If I’m not mistaken that leaves question marks hanging over Sergi Samper who is out of contract this summer.
Finally, if the three boys up top continue their excellent progress, Malcom would be a seamless sub for Dembouz. We’ll have to see how the newly arrived/crowned Prince helps out but I keep my (delusional) fingers crossed that his arrival won’t hinder the Brazilian €41m youngster from getting some sort of continuity next season. If the club remains in the running for a new striker perhaps somebody with the legs, efficiency, off the ball movement, work rate and potential the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic would be a good fit however I see him heading towards Real Madrid given their urgent need for goals.
Along with those previously mentioned, I don’t want to leave out other Barça B players such as Oriol Busquets and Ballou Tabla who in my opinion have fantastic potential to snatch up some practice (and Copa del Rey) minutes with the first team. I’m probably way off in my rationale, but in this hypothetical we’re looking at a team for the 19/20 season as follows:
Prince / Luka Jovic
Barça B players: