Frenkie de Jong has emerged as one of Europe’s hottest talents and it is no wonder that Barcelona acted quickly to snap him up and bring him to the Camp Nou. His intelligence on and off the ball, composure and calm presence has sent shockwaves around the footballing world, and the 22-year-old has already cemented his place in the Netherlands starting XI.
Barcelona have bought a real gem of a midfielder but integrating him into the starting eleven will be an interesting challenge for Ernesto Valverde. Here are the possible ways Barca might line up with Frenkie in the ranks:
If successful, this selection is guaranteed to be employed on a regular basis. This combination of Arthur with his ball distribution and retention, Sergio Busquets being the pivot and Frenkie linking up with the number 10 right ahead of him would prove to be a nightmare for the opposition. It might also correct vulnerabilities while counter-attacking, as when Busquets drops back, Frenkie will stay ahead. For a midfielder who is more of a deep-lying playmaker, all De Jong needs is a pass from the defence to get his team going. The formation will also ensure that Barcelona make the most of their possession.
This combination will see Arthur and Ivan Rakitic bring their usual elan and Frenkie taking the role of Barcelona’s number five, ensuring Busquets gets enough rest and stays fit for the entirety of the season. He has all the qualities to be a top-class defensive midfielder, and one of the main reasons why Barcelona bought him in the first place is to slowly start preparing for life without the Spanish maestro.
With Philippe Coutinho shining for Brazil at the Copa America, it’s evident he likes to play in an advanced midfield role just behind the main attacker. While he will be driving the ball ahead, Frenkie will be assigned the task of ball distribution, creating spaces and will work with Arthur in retaining possession. But the focal point of this arrangement will be Arthur; with his immaculate passing he can play as a regista in a combination that will evoke memories of 2009. It’s almost impossible to be Xavi, but there’s no harm in trying.
This set-up would be great for matches where Valverde decides he needs to rotate. In Arturo Vidal, we have a midfield enforcer who will ensure we get hold of stray passes and if none, press the opponent hard to steal the ball. Coutinho and Frenkie will work in tandem to get the ball in the opposition half and create chances, with Frenkie often staying behind and Vidal storming ahead.
5. Coutinho-Busquets-Frenkie-Malcom (4-4-2)
A season without a 4-4-2 formation is an incomplete season, as Valverde has shown no intention of permanently giving up on this formation. With the traditional formation expected to pop up at least once, Barcelona can enter the pitch with four in midfield. Two holding midfielders at the back and two runners from the sides will ensure Valverde gets his wish. The Barcelona boss can experiment by swapping Malcom for Moussa Wague - the promising young right-back who loves to get forward.
How would you like to see Frenke de Jong fit in at Barcelona? Let us know your thoughts, formations and suggestions in the comments below!