Perhaps one of the only positions that Guardiola needs to look at strengthening is that elusive defensive pivot. Fernandinho has made the spot his own in recent years. Before him, it was a Dutchman by the name of de Jong. Funnily enough, Fernandinho’s replacement could also be a Dutchman by the name of de Jong. It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? Before anyone starts, yes I am aware that the defensive pivot ‘chain of custody’ didn’t go directly de Jong to Fernadinho, but for the purpose of this article, it did. I’m glad we got that out the way. Alongside Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong has revitalised Ajax’s fortunes and they seem to be getting back to where they once were. So, it only seems right that their two biggest stars are probably going to be cherry-picked.
Pep may well end up going in for de Ligt as well. Bloody hell, if City signed both of them and they developed the way they’re both meant to, City would be an immovable force at the Premier League summit. Rather than focus on both de Ligt and de Jong at the same time, we will cast our attentive eye to the latter and see how he compares to Fernandinho. To spice things up, we’ll also see how he marries up against another supposed City target, Wolves’ Ruben Neves.
As is evident here, not only is de Jong versatile, his value has also gone through the roof in recent months. Putting in strong performances for his national team have helped him as well. Against Germany the other day, he was immense in the middle of the park and didn’t look out of place against seasoned professionals such as Muller and Mats Hummels. His passing accuracy in the game was a staggering 94% – only bettered by Germany’s Joshua Kimmich. The comparison I’m about to show you really illustrates his on-ball quality. Let’s have a look, shall we?
To level the playing field, we have averaged the stats out per ninety minutes as de Jong played substantially fewer minutes than the others. Immediately, it is apparent that de Jong is stronger in 60% of the areas we are looking at, as indicated by the stars. We will take it from the top. Frenkie de Jong wins pass completion by a comfortable 7% from Ruben Neves and 2% from Fernandinho. Throughout this, I think the better comparison will be Neves as they’re closer in age and at similar stages of their career. Moving swiftly on. Chances created is an interesting one. Neves and Fernandinho play a more reserved role than de Jong, although I can’t confess to having watched much of Ajax last year. Regardless, de Jong wins comfortably, creating nearly a whole chance more than Neves; 1.22 more than the current City man.
For key passes, see chances created. Due to de Jong playing a more advanced role than his foes, if you can call them that, he wins this one, as well. One thing that does bring up the intrigue is that Neves is quite a bit better than Fernandinho as well. Fernandinho’s solitary win from this comparison is his shot accuracy, ranking 15% higher than Neves and 28% higher than de Jong. My gut was telling me this was down to Fernandinho having significantly fewer shots, however, Fernandinho had 47 shots to de Jong’s 11; I guess that just tells us that de Jong is not that good at shooting. Good job he makes up for it in other areas.
The last area we look at is tackles won. Once again, Fernandinho finishes bottom of the pile. Ruben Neves wins this one by a slender 0.08. Overall, it’s fair to say that de Jong would be a fantastic addition to not only Manchester City, but also the Premier League. While the talked about fee of around £70,000,000 might seem a tad extortionate, he could end up as a centrepoint for years to come in the City side. Food for thought, indeed.
Until the next time.