FC Barcelona

Frenkie de Jong responds to transfer speculation & recent criticism

Krishan Davis
De Jong has set the record straight
De Jong has set the record straight / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has responded to speculation linking him with a move away from the club and criticism of his form so far this season.

Although he is still a regular starter at Camp Nou, the Dutchman has suffered a downturn in form this season - coinciding with the Blaugrana's overall struggles in the first half of the campaign and drawing the ire of the notoriously prickly Spanish press.

Barça were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage and are facing a battle to qualify for next season's edition, currently sitting fifth in La Liga. They have also been dumped out of the Copa del Rey and lost in the Supercopa semi-finals to their arch rivals Real Madrid.

De Jong was hauled off at half-time in the Supercopa defeat before being dropped to the bench for the Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Athletic Club earlier this month. That led to speculation that he could be sold in the near future, with Juventus and Chelsea touted as potential destinations.

However, speaking in an interview with Dutch publication NOS, the 24-year-old insisted he is still happy at Camp Nou.

"I was sometimes surprised [by Barcelona's predicament], but I still think the same about Barcelona," he said. "It is not the best at the moment, but it is still the most beautiful club in the world."

Reflecting on being dropped against Athletic, he continued: "That does not mean that I have passed [my best]. In three years I have hardly ever sat on the bench. Of course you sit on the bench a few times a season, there are so many games.

"I like football, so I read all those news stories too. I notice that a lot of people are talking to each other. I sometimes have the feeling that they don't really watch the matches. Or they do watch it and then take over an opinion from the commentators or analysts. If everyone imitates each other, there is an atmosphere that things are going very badly."

However, the Netherlands international did admit that he could "show more" in the remainder of the season. "I don't often fall through a lower limit, but I haven't touched the top very often this season either," he said. "If you just play flat, it can be just fine, but for people it is often bad right away.

"I think I can show more. One moment I was in better shape than the other. I think I can bring a lot more for the team. I can excel a lot more."