With the FIFA World Cup a little more than a week away, coaches have started preparing for the coveted tournament, assimilating their troops and publicly addressing the decisions they have made during selections.
Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal was no exception, as he addressed the media just before the nation kickstarts its World Cup campaign. The Dutchman notably made headlines with his comments on Frenkie de Jong.
Van Gaal labelled the Barcelona midfielder as the ideal midfielder and suggested he is the best on the pitch when it comes to playing in a pivot.
“Whenever De Jong plays as a pivot, he’s the best on the pitch,” van Gaal said (h/t Actualite-Barça).
The Netherlands coach went on to back Frenkie de Jong to becoming the ideal replacement for Sergio Busquets at Barcelona, adding, “Busquets is going to leave Barcelona and now Frenkie de Jong is finally playing in his position. It’s his best position.”
De Jong has been in the news for over a year now in light of the uncertainty over his future at Barcelona. The midfielder was closely linked with a move to Manchester United in the summer, but the move did not materialise.
Although Barcelona accepted the reality of him remaining at Camp Nou, de Jong’s future at the club is far from secure, even as he continues to play a key role in Xavi’s current setup.
Nevertheless, van Gaal is confident the Dutch international could become the desired replacement for Busquets, who is likely to quit Barcelona after his contract expires at the end of the season.
De Jong does have experience in operating in the number six role. But the exit of Busquets could pave the way for Xavi to potentially utilise his qualities in the double-pivot next season, alongside someone like Pedri.
However, there remains a possibility that the former Ajax starlet could be offloaded as well, especially as the club look to bring in some star players.