De Jong has played as a pivot, part of a double-pivot and at centre-back, and has impressed with his maturity and quality. Xavi, perhaps the finest midfielder in Barcelona’s history, has been speaking highly of him to Mundo Deportivo.
“He is a player who will mark an era,” Xavi, now coach of Qatari side Al Sadd, said. “The day that Frenkie de Jong signed for Barcelona made me very happy.
“He is a footballer who can mark an era at Barca and is one of the best of a great generation that Holland has for the World Cup.
“He’s still very young. He’s an extraordinary footballer, a midfielder who isn’t afraid to receive the ball in difficult areas. In short, a very good footballer.”
De Jong’s first season was imperfect, with the Dutchman finding it difficult to strike a balance with Sergio Busquets in midfield and coping with a collective underperformance that saw Barcelona end the campaign without silverware.
Xavi thinks it’s understandable. “Barca asks for an excellent level of play,” he said. “The best in the world are on your team. Frenkie needs time to adapt, to get to know another language and another culture.”
De Jong joined Barcelona in the summer of 2019 after starring for Ajax in the Champions League. Born in Gorinchem, he began his career with Willem II before joining their youth system at 15.
Xavi is one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the game. The Catalan has won, amongst many others, eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Featured image courtesy of FC Barcelona.