It seems that the player’s route in Amsterdam often follows the road to Munich. Ajax and Bayern Munich have very similar football philosophies so it is no surprise that players choose to switch from one to the other. However, one Ajax name is far from the club. FC Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong has still not found his way here from Amsterdam, although he seems to have always been linked with a move to Bayern Munich.
If Bayern can defeat him – and this is a big problem – what football solutions will he offer the team?
Frenkie de Jong is a player that has been criminally misinterpreted by most of the FC Barcelona and Manchester United fan bases. He is not a naturally progressing midfielder in the traditional sense as an 8 or more on the field the way he does at FC Barcelona. It is the 6 that provides dynamism and advances the ball from depth, and sets a solid base for the midfield. It’s a surprisingly little known fact that Frenkie often played as a central defender for Ajax, including for large parts of the legendary 2018/19 season in which Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals. This opens up a lot of options for the team.
4-2-2-2: Dual Axle
De Jong’s ability to run the ball from depth while his defensive intelligence is among the best in the world. I think using him in a similar role to Thiago Alcantara in his last season at Bayern would be perfect. That is, making De Jong drop between the central defender and allow the midfielders to rush wider, which in turn allows the wing-backs to advance forward with more license. De Jong has the engine to press with the occasional wing-back and now gives forward Joshua Kimmich a safer option while not letting go of the defenders.
The main reason I pushed this forward was because Kimmich was in a more advanced role. While we can all agree that Kimmich is among the best midfielders in the world in his day, it must be said that his defensive ability at times is disappointing. While he tracks regularly and has been in perfect condition, he sometimes commits to challenges too quickly and presses a bit too persistently, abandoning his sorting duties. Freeing him from these responsibilities with a deeper session 6 could unleash Kimmich, especially creatively. It can act as a fulcrum to attack, staying in advanced positions without having to worry about the counter.
3-4-1-2: The complete Nagelsmann
This is the best option, but certainly interesting.
De Jong as a central defender in the Center Five will allow him the freedom to cross the line at times and act as a central midfielder. With five at the back of the right defenders (well, four of them) in place Kimmich can still move on, although he won’t be as free as in the other system. The front three can operate freely and Ryan Gravenberch/Leon Goretzka/Leroy Sane (yeah, you heard me, that’s another one of my crazy machinations) can work in a freestyle role exploring half-spaces and pockets between the lines, acting almost like a mirror to Thomas Mueller but allowing Mueller to Be more central like the 10.
Moreover, if Muller plays the offensive center role, Mazraoui will have room to reverse in the offensive third. He’ll see him in a similar role to Serge Gnabry’s last season, where he’ll serve as an extra option to pull tags away or grab the defensive line if left unmarked. It’s the role Mazraoui played perfectly at Ajax with the help of Anthony on the touchline – although given it’s something he doesn’t have at Bayern Munich.
Side note: I can honestly see Leroy Sane as a top 8 or even a straight midfielder. His tracking and overall defensive contribution have been outstanding throughout the season, even as he played 10th in a few games. It seemed like it was everywhere the ball was. He will bring in great dynamics and giving him a free-role at 3-4-1-2 will bring him back to his best as he can explore spaces similar to what he was doing as the left-footed inside the striker at 3-4-2-1 last year. Whatever they do, I pray he doesn’t play on the right wing.
So – could it happen?
De Jong appears to have been linked to Bayern Munich on a continuous basis since his second summer at Barcelona. I think we have a good chance of buying it next summer, or even lending it this summer with an option to buy. At €75m, that’s certainly not possible – but the player seems convinced Bayern is his only destination, and there are always the legendary PowerPoint lessons of sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Bayern Munich has been mercurial in the transfer market lately. Can you imagine losing one of the greatest players in the club’s history – at the height of its power – and still feeling so ecstatic about the transfer window? If the German perennial champions can find a financially viable way to add Frenkie this year or next, that will be the proverbial cherry at the top.
It may make us unstoppable.
What do you think of these potential systems? Did you do it with Gep Puardiola through overthinking and role-playing or is that just crazy enough to work? Would you like to see Bayern Munich go to Frenkie de Jong in the near future? Let us know in the forum below.