Frenkie de Jong’s struggles for consistency at Barcelona are down to the Liga giants playing him out of position, says Ronald Koeman.
The Blaugrana were considered to have pulled off quite a coup when winning the race for a much-sought after signature in 2019.
A €75 million (£65m/$85m) agreement with Ajax was pushed through in the summer transfer window, with De Jong taking his considerable potential to Camp Nou.
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Big things were expected of the Dutchman alongside the likes of Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic in Catalunya.
The 22-year-old is, however, yet to make the desired impact at Barca, with some of the energy and spark which made him so highly-rated in his homeland suddenly missing in Spain.
Koeman, who works with De Jong in his role as manager of the Netherlands national team, believes the wrong approach is being taken with a top talent.
The former Barca star admits that learning different roles is important for any young player, but feels more would be eked out of a big-money addition if he was used in a natural holding berth.
Koeman told Marca of a fellow countryman: “It's important that he's playing games, even if they might not be in his preferred position.
“With the national team, he players deeper but we play with two holding midfielders and Barcelona only play with one and two central midfielders, or sometimes with four central midfielders.
“The position he is playing now is different to the national team and Ajax.
“He's learning to play further forward like this, it's not all bad, but it's not his best position. For me, I think he performs better playing deeper.”
While he is yet to truly sparkle at Barca, De Jong has maintained that he has no regrets at having favoured the Liga giants over the other transfer options available to him.
He has told Sport: I don't regret having signed for Barca, not for one second.
“I am really happy because I always wanted to play here. I am playing with players who for me are genuine legends. I am enjoying myself and I am learning a lot, too. I am at the best club in the world. living in a wonderful city with great weather.
“I always wanted to play for Barca.
“I don't know what will happen in the future, but I am happy here and there's no step forward from Barca. There's no better level.”
De Jong has taken in 37 appearances for the Blaugrana across all competitions this season, recording two goals and four assists.