‘That’s where we want to go too’
Frenkie de Jong sees City as example for Barça: ‘That’s where we want to go too’
Life is smiling on Frenkie de Jong. The 26-year-old FC Barcelona midfielder became Spanish national champion for the first time last week, and with much love he wants to stay in Catalonia for a while longer. The only goal still this season: to win the Nations League with the Oranje. The goal for after: continue to grow with FC Barcelona.
The question was no longer if, but when FC Barcelona would crown themselves national champions. After last week’s victory over Espanyol (4-2), the moment had arrived. “We celebrated that well. The bus tour was great,” De Jong told NOS reporter Joep Schreuder in Spain.
The midfielder grew this season under coach Xavi in a slightly different role – slightly less attacking than previous years – and became more and more decisive in that role. “This suits me a little better. It has suited the coach, the team and me well,” De Jong spoke soberly.
A different picture than at the beginning of this season: Barça wanted to get rid of the midfielder, for financial reasons. Manchester United wanted him and both clubs talked about a transfer.
De Jong: “The club is in a difficult situation and they could earn a lot of money from me. But myself, I wanted to stay.”
Successor Busquets? ‘Are different players’
Indeed, there is no need to return to the Netherlands (or any other country). “Family and friends I miss sometimes,” De Jong reveals. “Some small things, but I think life here is fantastic. If things continue to go well with myself and the club, I would prefer to stay here as long as possible.”
And win more prizes. Because Barcelona may have grabbed the championship, but in European terms it played no role. “We had two bad years in Europe. There is still some scraping to be done on the selection.”
Frenkie de Jong successor Busquets? ‘In terms of prices hopefully yes, but are different players’
So can Barça compete with a team like Manchester City? “Those have been around for years, have many good players and a fantastic coach. We do want to go there. I think we have a good team, with a lot of potential, a lot of young players. We have to show it though.”
“We became champions this year with a lot of points ahead of top teams like Real Madrid and Atlético,” De Jong continued. “We are not far from it, but we still have to improve. The last few years in Europe were not good enough. We have to make sure we do better and we will go for that next year.”
Whether ‘Frenkie’ is at his best now? “I hope not, I think you can always keep developing. If you keep working hard and stay physically fit, you will get better.”
With Sergio Busquets, a club icon will leave FC Barcelona after this season. For years Busquets was the controller, the back midfielder. Will De Jong be his successor? “I hear it more often, but I think we are different players. He is a real solid ‘6’ according to the Barcelona profile. I need freedom of movement.”
‘Nations League not an EC or World Cup, but want to take prize’
Fit will have to stay for a while this season, as the final round of the Nations League awaits. On June 14, Croatia will be the opponent in Rotterdam in the semifinals. During the European Championship qualifier game with France (4-0 defeat), De Jong, who was missing then due to injury, was missed.
Nations League next goal Frenkie de Jong: ‘Want to win prize with Oranje’
During the final round of the Nations League, he hopes, together with the rest, to put something beautiful down. “I’m looking forward to it a lot. For me there is only one thing left this season and that is the Nations League. We know it’s not an EC or World Cup, but we want to grab a prize,” De Jong concluded.