Luuk de Jong was the surprise signing of the last day of the transfer window. At the start of the day no one would even imagine that someone like him will sign for Barça. Moreover, what can a bench player in Sevilla add to our team? Is he the man to cover for the losses of Messi and Griezmann? Of course not. But according to the media, de Jong is a special request by Koeman, who sees him as a ‘Plan B’ striker. He sees him as someone who can offer something different – a classical number 9 who can play with his back, and score goals with his heads.
I’m not going to talk about Luuk de Jong himself, as we already talked about him here. But overall, de Jong is not the first time that we hear about this ‘Plan B’ striker. Moreover, this option comes every few years, as the coach wants to ‘try something different’. But, how did it work in the past? Not very good. Does this say that Luuk de Jong will fail? Not necessarily. But the odds are against him.
The ‘Model’ – Julio Salinas
If anyone can fit in this ‘Plan B’ profile that you wanna see in de Jong – it’s Julio Salinas. the 188 cm tall striker was one of the best players in the first years of cruyff’s ‘Dread Team’ era. Not the typical Blaugrana striker, the Basque offered something totally different – he was stronger, taller and offered space for quicker players like Stoichkov and Michael Laudrup.
Between 1988 and 1994, Salinas came on as a sub for 32% of his appearances. That’s a big percent for one of the main goal-scorers in the team. The reason for that is that Cruyff often used him as a ‘Plan B’ striker, just like Koeman wants to use de Jong.
Koeman, of course, was a player in the Cruyff team, so it makes sense that he wants an option for a different approcach. But unfortunately, not all ‘Plan B’ options, work like Salinas.
Most recent – Boateng
Seen as the physical ‘Plan B’ for times when talent is not enough, alongside Arturo Vidal. According to the media, coach Valverde wanted to have a plan B in his bench, and the technical staff looked for a new attacker in the winter transfer market of 2018/19. Eventually, Kevin Prince Boateng joined Barcelona in January 2019 on a 6 months loan.
Boateng had 4 appearances for FC Barcelona in his 6 months spell, and he failed to adapt to Barcelona and their style of play. After 6 months, and with no surprise, Barcelona didn’t pay the buy option and he left the club.
The Maxi López phenomenon
A bit older story is the one of Maxi López. Maxi arrived to Barcelona in January 2005 as a 20 years old Argentinean striker from River Plate. Back then, coach Frank Rijkaard looked for someone to cover for the long-term injury of his back-up striker – Henrik Larsson (Assistant coach of Koeman these days). Laporta and his board paid 6.5m Euros for the tall striker who arrived in the winter transfer market.
At first, his arrival looked like a ‘Bingo’. He came on as a sub against Mourinho’s Chelsea, scored a goal and assisted another one, helping the club reaching the next round.
But sadly, the highlights from this one game are pretty much his highlights from his time in Barcelona. In 19 appearances for Barcelona, Maxi scored 2 goals and had 3 assists. Not very good numbers for a striker.
At the end of that season he left on loan to Mallorca, and a year after he left permanently.
So why would it work this time?
I don’t know. In his age and current fitness, Luuk doesn’t seem like a striker in the caliber of FC Barcelona. But, let’s not forget that he is Dutch and Koeman knows him. Moreover, he had a great connection with Memphis while they both played in the Dutch league. So yeah, I don’t see him score 20 goals for Barcelona, but he might surprise us sometimes.