One of the biggest transfer sagas we have witnessed in the last summer transfer window is Frenkie de Jong’s potential move to Manchester United from Barcelona.
Barcelona were keen to offload the Dutch midfielder, and the Red Devils were eager to add De Jong to their roaster. But, the 25-year-old rejected the chance to reunite with his former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag at Man United and chose to remain a Barca player, much to the dismay of the Barcelona administration.
At one point, it seemed that Barcelona would do whatever it takes to get Frenkie de Jong out of the club.
It was far from a pretty sight as it appeared that the Catalonians were trying to get rid of the player to avoid paying him the €17 million they owed him in deferred wages.
Why Barca wanted to dump Frenkie
Why did Barcelona want to send Frenkie de Jong packing so desperately?
They had spent €75 million to secure his services a few years back.
What went so wrong that Barcelona have identified the Netherlands international as a write-off?
Barcelona viewed De Jong as their most lucrative saleable asset to ease up their wage bill and get more financial leeway to strengthen their squad.
It was no secret that Barcelona entered the last transfer window with severe financial constraints.
So, the Barcelona administration wanted to sell De Jong for a high price and reuse that money to bring in players who fit into their current plans better.
De Jong came to Barcelona as one of the most exciting midfield prospects in the world. While there were glimpses of his immense talent over the past few years at Camp Nou, Frenkie de Jong could not achieve consistency.
The rise of Gavi and Pedri displaced him as an automatic pick in central midfield. He did not fare well as a central defensive midfielder too.
Barcelona did not see the need for such an expensive central midfield backup.
So, they wanted to sell him to a club that was willing to pay a handsome transfer fee. But, the transfer fell apart since De Jong was adamant about staying at Barcelona.
Xavi’s experiments with Frenkie
Since De Jong is staying at the club till January at least, Barcelona manager Xavi deployed him in a new role.
We have seen the Dutchman playing as a midfield pivot, and he seemed to be enjoying the role. If De Jong can carry on his progress, he could eventually become Sergio Busquet’s replacement in the middle of the park.
Barcelona already have an excellent defensive midfielder option in Franck Kessié.
But the former AC Milan star is more of an old-school defensive midfielder. De Jong has been playing as a deep-lying playmaker like Manchester City’s Rodri or Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos. For a high press, high possession system, De Jong makes more sense as the midfielder anchor than Franck Kessié.
What does this development mean for Frenkie de Jong’s future at Barcelona?
Is it water under the bridge?
Despite the horrific treatment he got from the Barca administration, will De Jong choose to extend his stay beyond the summer of 2023, when his contract expires?
We have already seen an unbelievable comeback story under Xavi.
He persuaded Ousmane Dembélé to renew after the Frenchman’s camp and Barcelona publicly expressed their disapproval of each other.
If De Jong can reimagine himself as a regista completely, we believe Xavi will be eager to keep hold of him.