Frenkie De Jong is back! After playing a few minutes in the La Liga season finale three weeks ago, the Dutch midfielder is fully fit and has been training with his Barcelona teammates ahead of Saturday’s Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Napoli.
Thanks to suspensions for Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets, De Jong is certain to start and anchor the Barça midfield at Camp Nou, and the 23-year-old is more than ready to lead his team to a place in the quarterfinals.
Here’s some highlights from Frenkie’s interview with the official club website:
On his fitness
“I’m feeling good with a lot of positive energy. I’ve recovered well from the injury and am feeling fit. The break was good for the whole team. We’ve recharged our batteries. It was nice to get some rest and get our energy back.”
“I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t play but I have prepared well for the next few games and feel ready for the one against Napoli.”
On his motivation for the Champions League restart
“I’m always motivated, but the Champions League is clearly very special. I don’t feel under more pressure now that I’m at Barça, it’s the same in every game. In a single legged game the smaller teams have a bigger chance of springing a surprise. Of course we need to win at all costs, but playing games over one leg is harder because anyone can shock you. But it’s a new thing for everyone, nobody has played with this format before, and all the teams that are going will be going because they deserve to be there.”
“Napoli have some top quality players and they’re very well disciplined. I’m sure it’ll be a difficult game. All Champions League games are, but we need to make sure we make it into the next round.”
“We found the first leg hard going. We had a lot of players behind the ball and it wasn’t a great result, but I’m confident we can play better now.”
“We have had more time to prepare for the game while they are still in the rhythm of playing games, so it can be read two ways. During the season, you only have two or three days to get ready for a game, and this time we have had two weeks.”
On Busquets and Vidal’s suspensions
“Busquets and Vidal are two fundamental players and they’ll be missed. But in our team, all the players are top quality.”
On playing in an empty Camp Nou
“It’s a bit of an odd situation, even more so in the Champions League, where you really feel the presence of the fans. But there are four games left to win the trophy. Every game is decisive, and that makes it harder.”