Perhaps the most delightful news in Barcelona’s remarkable ascension since Xavi Hernández became the manager is the redemption of Luuk De Jong. After arriving on loan in the last day of the summer transfer window, the Dutchman was the target of much ridicule by a large portion of the Barça fanbase, chosen almost as the symbol of Ronald Koeman’s reign of terror.
Xavi clearly didn’t count on De Jong in his early days as manager, but the Dutch striker kept working and waiting for his chance. And as fate would have it a massive Covid-19 outbreak in the beginning of January that wiped out the entire starting frontline forced Xavi to play Big Luuk in the starting lineup, and the rest is history.
De Jong has scored five goals in his last seven appearances in La Liga, three of those late in games to earn Barça a huge result like the wild 3-2 victory over Levante on Sunday in which the Dutch Super Sub came off the bench to head home a 92nd minute winner.
Barça fans could not be more in love with Luuk right now, and the best part about it is he isn’t asking for more minutes or demanding to start every game because of red-hot form. De Jong knows what his job is, and he’s more than happy to keep doing it as he explained in the post-match interview after his winner on Sunday.
“Scoring goals is amazing, but doing it at the death to win a game, which I’ve done a few times, is always special. They’re not normal feelings. I am happy for the team. When they need me, I am here. I have to wait for my opportunities.
“The team knows what they have to do when I enter the pitch. Whenever they can, get the ball in the area and generate danger. I had Covid, but I didn’t have symptoms. I felt that I could keep on playing, but I couldn’t.
“When the team needs me, I am here”.
Luuk De Jong is the humble hero we don’t deserve. Give this man a lifetime contract.