Even before arriving at Barcelona, Ronald Koeman had nothing but praise for Frenkie de Jong. Understandably so, given the two were working together with the Netherlands national team. The coach was asked to express his thoughts about the role de Jong was playing at Barça, and he did not hide his criticism, explaining that the midfielder needs to be deployed much closer to the defence and not in an advanced role.
However, after arriving, Koeman was forced to eventually shift de Jong into an attacking capacity in an attempt to bring the best out of the rest of the team, which was suffering because of the 4-2-3-1 setup. Their relationship is well known to Barcelona fans, so it was not a surprise when the Dutch player admitted that he wanted Koeman to stay in an interview with AD.
“Personally, I hope Koeman stays. I have a good relationship with him. But I have little influence on that, I think. I, too, will be waiting to see what happens”, expressed a hopeful Frenkie de Jong.
Koeman’s job has been under scrutiny at Barça well before they lost control of the league title. De Jong, however, understands the reasoning behind it, and said, “That is because Barcelona is one of the biggest clubs in Spain. You are always expected to become the champions. By the press and the public, but you want the same as a player. If you fail the, you have not done well in people’s eyes. That’s how it works.”
FdJ participated in 51 games across the course of the season, playing nearly 4500 minutes, 300 more than the second-most in Jordi Alba. While he has been one of Barcelona’s best performers, he was critical of his season, saying, “I can hardly put a mark on it, but I will give myself no more than half a point higher than last season.” For context, he rated his first season a 6/10.
Thankfully, Barcelona did not end up trophy less. Their incredible run in the Copa del Rey will be visited for ages, ending in an incredible 4-0 win in the finals of the competition. He commented on that as well, saying, “I think we as a team, despite a revival did not perform well. You want to become a champion at Barça. We won the cup, nice, but in the end, it is not good enough. I also blame myself for that.”