Barcelona midfielder Frankie de Jong says little pearls of wisdom from legend Lionel Messi are helping him become a better player, as he adapts to life in Catalonia.
De Jong’s first season in La Liga has been a turbulent one due to his out of control. Since his £70m move from Ajax, manager Ernesto Valverde has been replaced by Quique Setién, and turmoil has erupted in the club’s boardroom, with Messi publicly sparring with director of football Eric Abidal. The war has started. The dressing room has reportedly been divided.
The Covid-19 crisis that has halted football since March, and the resulting financial impact, has created further uncertainty, but while it has been a tumultuous season off the pitch, DeJong’s development has been one of those few bright spots. Item
The mood when you returned to Camp Nou? #FJ21 pic.twitter.com/71ApzuKbxL
— Frankie DeJong (@DeJongFrenkie21) June 7, 2020
The Dutchman started all but four matches in all competitions before the season was suspended in March, and will be expected to return when Barca’s campaign finally resumes in Mallorca on Saturday.
The 23-year-old has improved as the season has ended and, speaking to the BBC, he says it’s down to getting to grips with the Catalan side’s 4-3-3 system and the way it has given him. It is because of the advice given. Messi won the Ballon d’Or six times.
“I had a separate role at Ajax and the Dutch squad but we are playing with a double six. [two defensive midfielders]De Jong said.
“I have to adapt and it’s getting better, but I can do better. I’m at my best when I’m not the most defensive but also the most attacking.
✊?✊?❤️✊?✊? #stopracism pic.twitter.com/JAt7ig4UOh
— Frankie DeJong (@DeJongFrenkie21) May 31, 2020
“If Lionel Messi is talking and giving you advice, you take it because he is the best player in the world by far. If he gives advice, you listen.
“Sometimes he says you have to be deep or to the side, little things but it makes a difference.”
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