Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has said he expects to improve his form after a difficult start to life at the club.
De Jong has played in all three La Liga games for the Blaugrana, quickly becoming a part of the first XI following his summer move from Ajax. However, his form has fluctuated, with the Dutch international not yet reaching last season's levels.
Speaking at the Dutch football awards on Monday, when De Jong was crowned as Player of the Year, the playmaker said he expects to make strides as he gets better acquainted with his new side, per Sport.
"I am new to the team. I've started the first three league games, despite the fact we have a lot of players in the same position," he said. "But I think I can play better than I have done until now."
In the 2-2 draw with Osasuna on Saturday, De Jong failed to have a significant influence.
Rafael Hernandez of the Grup14 fansite said the tactics of manager Ernesto Valverde are not helping the Dutchman flourish:
One of the main topics among Barcelona supporters since De Jong's arrival has been the role he would play.
Many have envisaged him as a natural successor for Sergio Busquets—the man who operates deepest in midfield and constructs play. For Ajax and in his early days at Barcelona, he's played in a more advanced role, given license to stride forward and influence play in the final third.
"I have to grow in whatever role I play," he said. "I am happy to be playing and I just want to make sure I maintain my place in the side. ... People think it's necessary to score goals and assists, but football is not so simple."
De Jong has proved himself to be a high-class midfielder, and it's only a matter of time before he finds top gear at Barcelona. Spanish football journalist David Cartlidge thinks Lionel Messi's return will help De Jong flourish:
Overall, Barcelona have struggled without their iconic No. 10 as of late:
It's not a massive surprise that De Jong has got off to a slow start. After all, there will be fresh pressures on the midfielder following a high-profile move, while he will have to adapt to life in a new country and at a new football club.
Barcelona supporters will be patient with their new midfielder, as they'll be aware of what a huge influence he was for Ajax last season. Once the pieces in the team surrounding De Jong are settled, expect him to kick on again.