Are we on the cusp of another Barcelona resurrection?
Ousmane Dembele has risen like a phoenix from the flames after seemingly having more than a foot out of Camp Nou before Xavi welcomed him back into the bosom of the club, going against the grain in so doing.
Frenkie de Jong dug his heels in over the summer when it appeared that Joan Laporta was intent on cashing in on the Dutchman.
As it turned out, despite reported strong interest from Man United, the midfielder wasn’t for turning.
After being handed a start by Xavi against the Yellow Submarine, De Jong set about putting the argument of whether he deserves to replace Sergio Busquets to bed.
There can be no doubt whatsoever that Busi isn’t just one of the best of his generation, but one of the best of all time in his position.
It could be said that his time has now passed, however.
There’s no need to compare his situation with those of Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba, but on the strength of De Jong’s powerhouse performance, there’s every reason to believe the club captain will be following the experienced pair out the door shortly.
After such an industrious showing, there’s no way that Xavi can consider leaving De Jong out for the visit of Athletic Club.
It’s not even a stretch to say that the Dutchman was everywhere.
Notoriously hard to please, it was noticeable how vocal the Camp Nou faithful were whenever the midfielder was in possession.
If he wasn’t back breaking up Villarreal’s forays forward and then distributing effectively, he was surging forward to supplement the attack.
Important at both ends of the field as well as being the engine room in the middle of the park.
He is not Busi, but then neither was he bought to be. It’s not often we’ve seen the true Frenkie either but Thursday night certainly provided a glimpse.
De Jong was absolutely magnificent, and was probably only outshone thanks to a virtuoso performance from Robert Lewandowski.
If youth, energy and dynamism is supposedly part of Xavi’s playbook, then surely there can’t be an argument for Busi dislodging De Jong?
Being captain is not and cannot be the driver any longer for a place in the team. If this squad is to be competitive, then you get in the starting XI on merit.
Frenkie De Jong should, therefore, have cemented his status for the next few weeks at the very least.