Louis van Gaal: Barcelona Success Will Be 'Very Difficult' for Frenkie de JongJune 2, 2019
Former Barcelona manager Louis van Gaal has said he thinks it will be "very difficult" for Frenkie de Jong to thrive at the club next season and that he has doubts over whether the Dutchman made the right choice in joining the La Liga side.
It was confirmed earlier this campaign that De Jong would be moving to the Camp Nou after he had been linked to both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
Van Gaal, who also coached Ajax, Manchester United and the Netherlands, has said he is unsure about how De Jong fits into the side and is worried about whether he'll receive much playing time at Barcelona, per FOX Sports (h/t EFE via AS):
"I think it’s going to be very difficult for him there. Not only because he might get a different role, but he also has to play those other players from the starting line-up. He is also lucky that Barcelona has been eliminated in the semi-final (of the Champions League), because then their status will be different.
"... I think that as a player you should also choose a club where you can always play. The question is whether that is justified in Barcelona. I hope so, because at that age you have to play every game. I think he could have made better choices because I think the whole world is waiting for De Jong. I am so positive about him."
The young midfielder was exceptional in 2018-19 for Ajax, as he helped the team to the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup this season. He was also a linchpin in the team's run to the UEFA Champions League semi-final, impressing in wins at Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus:
Although Barcelona won La Liga, finishing comfortably ahead of both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, their season was blemished by significant defeats to Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final and the Copa del Rey final loss to Valencia.
Towards the end of the season they had the look of a team that required some revitalisation and the prospect of De Jong being part of the side next season is an exciting one for Barcelona supporters.
Whether operating at the base of midfield or further forward, his energy, intelligence on the ball and willingness to muck in defensively would give Barcelona a new dimension.
Spanish football journalist Andy West thinks the Blaugrana need fresh impetus in midfield:
However, Rafael Hernandez of Grup 14 said he is concerned for De Jong's development under manager Ernesto Valverde:
For Barcelona, there will be big decisions to make in midfield next season, as they have so many options in this area of their squad as things stand. With that in mind, De Jong will need to ensure he's playing to a high standard.
Still, he has undoubtedly showcased the talent and temperament to thrive on the biggest stage. Barcelona can be a daunting club for new arrivals, although he has all the tools to be a mainstay in the team for many years to come.