It isn’t often that the best player in a game of football finishes on the losing side.
Lionel Messi’s contribution to the Netherlands vs Argentina game can’t be understated, but on this occasion he was overshadowed by his former Barcelona colleague, Frenkie de Jong.
The Dutchman was the player that kept his side ticking along.
Yes, they had to resort to route one football - and Mateu Lahoz’s penchant to make games all about him - to get themselves back into the game, but for the most part in the midfield areas in particular, De Jong was head and shoulders above the competition.
Were Xavi Hernandez an interested spectator, De Jong will have certainly given his coach some food for thought once club football resumes in a few short weeks time.
The midfielder is, perhaps, one of the less celebrated members of the Dutch squad, but his quality isn’t in doubt.
Decent enough on the ball and in tight spaces, it’s his driving runs and in-game intelligence that really make him stand out against his contemporaries.
He’ll have every right to feel a little bruised by the result when he wakes up on Saturday morning, but at least he’ll be comfortable in the knowledge that he did all he could to help get his side past one of the pre-tournament favourites.
De Jong coming through the tournament unscathed physically will also be a real boon for the Catalans, as they look to cement their place at the top of La Liga heading into the New Year.
A Catalan derby and a fixture against Atletico Madrid are what await the player and his club colleagues a week or so after Christmas, so he, along with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Gavi et al will quickly need to put their disappointments behind them.
If the Dutchman can produce performances that are anywhere near the level of his dynamic showing against Argentina, then Xavi and Barca have little to worry about.
It’s games like that which make a mockery of the perceived issue of wanting to offload the player to Man United.
Why even consider such nonsense when it’s blindingly obvious to anyone with even just a passing interest in football that De Jong can be the engine room of his club side and, as such, one of its most important components.