If Barcelona goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen has his way, then midfielder Frenkie de Jong would be playing for Barcelona for life. He stated this before the Spanish giant faced Manchester United in a Europa League fixture. Over the summer those two clubs had discussions about bringing de Jong over to the English side. Those discussions didn’t culminate in a move for the Dutch midfielder, which likely made Ter Stegen a happy camper.
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Oh, How Things Have Changed
At the start of this season, de Jong was on the outside looking in. Sure, he was still at Camp Nou but was not seen by manager Xavi Hernandez as a key player. However, that has all changed after a spell of fantastic play on the pitch from the Dutch national since the club switched it up to using four midfielders. He has been an integral part of the resurgence of the club that is running away with the La Liga title. At the time of writing Barca has an 11-point cushion over second-place Real Madrid in the league standings.
Ter Stegen Doing His Part as Well
While De Jong has been playing well for an extended period, Ter Stegen has been great in goal all season. After 21 league matches, he has kept a clean sheet in 16 of them, only allowing a grand total of seven goals. This season Barca has a goal differential of +36 (43 goals seven conceded), which is why it is no surprise the club only has one loss so far in the season.
More than Stats
While De Jong only has two goals to go with one assist, his play on both sides of the pitch has been more than solid. He is still only 25 years old but he has brought veteran leadership to the club. After the switch to four midfielders after the World Cup, not only did De Jong thrive but so did a couple of talented youngsters in Gavi and Pedri, who are 18 and 20 years of age respectively. Pedri ranks second on the club with six goals and Gavi has a goal and two assists.
What Old Man?
34-year-old veteran striker Robert Lewandowski has shown no signs of slowing down leading La Liga with 14 goals in his first season at Camp Nou. He is the leading goal scorer of all time in the Bundesliga and over his illustrious career the Polish national has led his respective league in goals in 11 of his 14 seasons and that is not counting this one. What’s even more impressive is that his three seasons with the most goals all came after turning 30 years old.
Barcelona has returned to being an elite club in a short period of time and De Jong, Ter Stegen, and Lewandowski are three of the main reasons why. The team is likely breathing a sigh of relief they didn’t move the Dutch midfielder to Manchester United last summer.