"Antoine Griezmann is very good. But we already knew that. Frenkie de Jong is really impressive. In two training sessions, you can see that he has incredible quality. He's really impressed us." That's the reflection of someone who works with Barcelona's first team on the Dutch midfielder, who could be the signing of the season. He arrived almost in silence because the deal was done in January, but it's taken just two days for him to earn the admiration of the coaching staff. He's a crack and, above all, set to be an important player in Ernesto Valverde's system from the first minute of the season.
Barça had tracked De Jong for two years, watching him every week. They knew him well. The club reached the conclusion that he was a player with a special talent that they had to go all out for. He's different from other players on the market. And, for that reason, Barça made an exception, raising their initial offer to convince him to come at the last minute. They also liked Matthijs de Ligt a lot, but they believed his market price should be less than De Jong's. Due to his position and due to his potential. Time will tell, but what's clear is, despite their previous knowledge, the club are still surprised by De Jong's technical quality.
What's surprised the most is the ease and speed with which he moves the ball. "The ball's at his feet for less than two seconds." He controls and passes at a speed that no one in the squad at the moment can. Not even Arthur, a player that is perhaps the most similar to him. De Jong plays with an innate talent, he places the ball with a sharpness that draws wonder. Without a doubt, he's going to be key to Barça's attacking rhythm, something they've lost in recent years.
Technical reports highlight his purity and almost perfection during phases of play. His passing accuracy last season was more than 90 percent in the Dutch league and in the Champions League. He does almost everything well, keeps things simple, facilitates play and improves his teammates.
Barça will work specifically on various aspects to improve De Jong's adaption to the club and the Spanish league. The big challenge is to work on the physical side of his game. And also to modify some small vices he has picked up from when he has had to play in more defensive positions, something which doesn't really worry the coaches due to his capacity to learn.
There are no doubts that Valverde will use him as an interior this season, either on the left or the right. They believe that' s where he will feel most comfortable to start generating a bond on the pitch with his new teammates. But they believe in the future he will be able to take on much more responsibility. His training sessions so far have been a genuine spectacle.