After a disappointing start to the season as part of a double pivot, Frenkie De Jong has had a resurgence of form over the last couple of weeks. Is this rise in form a temporary patch of form, or a sign of things to come?
During the first half of Barcelona’s match against Eibar, Ronald Koeman experimented with a slightly modified 4-3-3. Under this system, De Jong was used as an interior, with Sergio Busquets being used as the lone pivot. This small change worked wonders for both the club and De Jong.
In an attempt to bring out the best in De Jong, Koeman started off the season in a 4-2-3-1, similar to the system that he had deployed at the international level for the Netherlands. Frenkie had also played in an almost identical system during his hugely successful time at Ajax.
De Jong, despite his tendency to carry the ball from deep, was never a pure defensive midfielder. Even at Ajax, he was often played as an interior. The misconception that De Jong needed to play in a 4-2-3-1 or be used as a pivot by himself was always false.
With almost 10 progressive carries per 90, De Jong has the skill set necessary to play as a traditional box to box midfielder. He is one of La Liga’s top progressive passers, with just over 6 passes into the final third per 90, meaning that he has the ability to play as an advanced playmaker. Frenkie De Jong has always had these two qualities, it has just started to be reflected in statistics.
Frenkie is great at progressing the ball. Moreover, with a role with more freedom has certainly helped him show that quality consistently. At Ajax, he always had the freedom to move up the pitch. And for the first time in his Barcelona career, he has been able to show the same quality.
After an average start to the season, De Jong has truly come into his own. If Barca are to have a real chance at silverware this season, De Jong must continue his form.
Credit to @_ElJdP for statistics.