Frenkie de Jong went out at Camp Nou aiming to take advantage of the chance Xavi had given him The Dutchman knew perfectly well this game could be a turning point for him at Barcelona in the pivot role. After the last results leading to Busquets being benched, Xavi went for Frenkie there.
He made no mistake. Last summer he was capable of holding his nerve to stay at Barcelona, despite enormous pressure to leave, and played one of his best games on Thursday night.
He was huge in the midfield, constructing the team’s play, reading each play with precision. Frenkie made 75 good passes and just four bad ones. He was fouled twice and committed none, fruit of being in the right place, always. To support his team-mates and stop Villarreal. His movements helped Barca not to suffer in the game.
De Jong asked for a sub at 70 minutes and left space for Busquets to return it was almost like a generational change, with Busquets taking the minor role. Camp Nou understood it like that, and gave the Dutchman an ovation.