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De Jong arrival set to leave Rakitic with peripheral role at Barcelona

21:49 GMT+3 23/05/2019
Frenkie de Jong Ivan Rakitic GFX
The Croatia international believes he and the 22-year-old do not play the same role but club executives view the situation differently

The acquisition of Frenkie de Jong is likely to put Ivan Rakitic’s place at Barcelona under threat, Goal understands.

The 31-year-old Croatia international has been linked to a potential move away from the champions of La Liga, with Inter often mooted as a landing spot.

Speculation has only grown with the confirmed arrival of the Ajax starlet De Jong, but Rakitic has insisted he is happy at Barca and does not want to leave.

Asked about being replaced thanks to De Jong’s arrival to Camp Nou, Rakitic dismissed the notion, believing the pair are not in competition.

Rakitic told Mundo Deportivo: “I am convinced that he will not arrive for my position, my position is occupied.”

However, Barcelona executives told Goal the opposite – De Jong’s best position is not in Sergio Busquets' position at the base of the midfield but in a dual-role currently held by Arthur and Rakitic.

And the executives have revealed De Jong is viewed as the perfect complement to Arthur, which would leave Rakitic as the odd man out.

"De Jong is a control player, similar to Arthur but much deeper in his actions," Barca executives told Goal.

"De Jong and Arthur will mix very well."

The executives believe De Jong being Dutch worked to the club's advantage thanks to the long history the Blaugrana have with some of the country’s great players.

And they believe De Jong compares favourably with arguably the greatest talent the Netherlands has produced - former Barcelona midfielder and head coach Johan Cruyff.

"It is so easy to negotiate with Dutch players being Barcelona, everyone wants to join the club but especially the Dutch players for the long history between the country and Barcelona,” the executives said.

“De Jong has high quality and technique. He has a dribbling style very similar to Cruyff's with the right foot doing the movement to the inside with the external part of the foot.

“De Jong loves to play with spaces, receiving and turning himself to start the play. He is young and his abilities will strengthen Barcelona’s midfield."

The reviews of the 22-year-old are glowing, and reveal why the club worked hard to land the midfielder over the likes of Paris Saint-Germain.

And Barcelona are committed to playing De Jong in his best position to get the most out of their new signing, which could leave Rakitic on the outside, looking in.