As highlighted by Mundo Deportivo, FC Barcelona’s results since Frenkie de Jong became injured suggest that the Catalans are heavily dependent on the Dutchman.
De Jong hasn’t been seen on a football field since September 23, which is when he pulled up with a knock and hobbled off before half time in a La Liga meeting with Celta Vigo at the Montjuic Stadium.
In the following days, Barca confirmed he had suffered an injury to the tibiofibular syndesmosis in his right ankle.
There were hopes that he might make El Clasico on October 28 or last Saturday’s trip to Real Sociedad, but squad lists for both matches were published without De Jong’s name.
What will end up being an absence of more than two months, when De Jong finally returns at the end of November after the upcoming international break, is the longest that the model professional has experienced since joining from Ajax as part of an $80 million transfer in 2019.
That head coach Xavi Hernandez and his men miss the 26-year-old on-field is glaringly obvious.
Without the number 21 by his side to tidy up his errors, the form of summer signing Oriol Romeu has plummeted. This has caused Xavi to deploy Ilkay Gundogan as pivot, meaning that the ex-Manchester City skipper cannot operate in the more attacking role in central midfield where he often provides his best work.
One of Xavi’s main criticisms of the team is that it has lacked intensity, which De Jong brings to the table in bunches.
Focusing merely on the results, however, it is becomes even more glaringly obvious that De Jong is sorely missed.
As he started the season, Barca got off to a near perfect start with six victories and just a single draw across seven matches with no defeats.
With De Jong out of action, the Blaugrana has yielded just five wins, two draws and two defeats in the last three games across a total of nine fixtures.
There has been talk of dependence on Lionel Messi and Pedri in the past, but now it seems that “Frenkiedependencia”, as it would be known is Spanish is now a thing too.
And to think that Barca was willing to offload the player in the summer of 2022, accepting an offer for him from Manchester United in mid-July according to The Athletic, only for De Jong to put his foot down and refuse to move.
Xavi for one will probably be glad he did.