Stats Prove Frenkie De Jong Has Become A Leader At FC Barcelona Since Summer Move

Frenkie de Jong attended Monday’s Ballon d’Or ceremony well aware that he wouldn’t scoop the France Football gong awarded to the world’s best soccer player.

Finishing 11th in the 2019 rankings decided by respected journalists across the planet, this was still an impressive return for the Netherlands international who only emerged to widespread prominence last year as part of Ajax’s impressive run to the Champions League semi-finals.

This pitted him ahead of more established contemporaries such as Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, while he was also the second-highest ranked player from his new team FC Barcelona above fellow summer recruit Antoine Griezmann and goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

The prize, for a record sixth time, went to Lionel Messi of course. And though the captain is undoubtedly Barça’s spearhead through more than just the armband, De Jong, after just four months in Catalonia following his $83mn switch, has already established himself as a leader at the Camp Nou.

An ‘untouchable’ in the competition under Ernesto Valverde, centre-back Gerard Pique’s suspension in their side’s last Champions League outing against Borussia Dortmund means that the 22-year-old is now the most used Blaugrana player this term.

Playing 1558 minutes in total, which is 35 more than Pique, he has started 18 out of 19 official matches and is the only constant in an ever-changing midfield that has now seen the return of the star he dislodged in Ivan Rakitic.

In Sunday’s 0-1 triumph over Atleti, stolen by a late winner from Messi, De Jong featured alongside Rakitic and the returning Arthur due to usual pivot Sergi Busquets serving a one-match ban.

Over the course of the gritty, tense affair, De Jong enjoyed passing success of 94.2% in his 74 attempts and faltered on a mere four occasions. This helped him to maintain an impressive average of 92% accuracy overall in his 14 domestic games in Spain thus far, while on the continent, he has kept this stat above 90% as Barça wrapped up Group F with a match to spare.

Across all competitions, there have been 1104 passes in total, a development which Mundo Deportivo’s Eric Rosique has claimed as a “sign that Barça’s game circulates directly through his boots.”

Remarkably for a midfielder, especially one that is often plonked in a more ‘interior’, attacking role closer to the left flank than in the pivot role either alongside Busquets or in the Spanish veteran’s absence, De Jong also provides worthy competition to Pique in additional facet of the sport.

Pique leading on 88, De Jong has the second highest amount of recoveries (74) across the whole team and regardless of where he is situated on the pitch, can often be seen on the edge of his own box while robbing opponents of the ball to set Barça off upfield.

Excused from training today after spending time with his family, De Jong returns to action on Saturday when FCB host relegation-threatened Mallorca and Messi will show off his latest individual conquest to the paying public.

At the rate he is progressing, it might not be too long until the flying young Dutchman receives such lofty recognition too.

Now based in Barcelona after six years in São Paulo, I have written on these topics at length through previews and analysis while having also covered match reports for t...