Luuk de Jong, the heroic substitute

He has gone from being ridiculed to being cheered on. From infamous signing to useful footballer. From battering ram to specialist in the area. Luuk de Jong’s transit through Barça will be remembered for his metamorphosis in the eyes of the fans and the critics through the decisive goals that he has contributed and that have substantially helped improve the team’s results. When one day of the resurrection of Xavi’s Barça is written, some line should be dedicated to the Dutch striker, on loan from Sevilla and that Barça was about to give in turn to Cádiz in December.

He had scored, until then, only one goal. An inconsequential goal against Levante (3-0), on matchday 7, when Ronald Koeman’s Barça already hinted at a decline, precisely because of the lack of goals. Luuk was one of the culprits of the lack of success, double guilt for being an express request of the coach, on the last day of the market when the club decided to part with Antoine Griezmann.

A couple of times…

“Scoring a goal is a great feeling, and scoring in the last minute is a much more special feeling, I’ve done it a couple of times in my career and it’s incredible,” De Jong said on the Ciutat de València pitch, where he finished off Barça’s laborious comeback in a match where they suffered three penalties against for the first time in history. To the historical event experienced by the club at a private level, it was added that Barça became the first club in the League to win a game with three adverse penalties.

Koeman left, whom he could not save with decisive goals in 12 appearances (only one goal) and Xavi Hernández appeared, to whom he has given six goals in 10 interventions. Most crucial. Six points have been won with the forward, born in Aigle (Switzerland) 31 years ago. have not been alone a couple of times…

“Scoring a goal is a great feeling, and scoring in the last minute is a much more special feeling, I’ve done it a couple of times in my career and it’s unbelievable.”

Luuk de Jong / Barça forward

He opened the year with one of those goals, in the field of Mallorca (0-1) that reported three points in a game that Xavi did not want to play. The technician counted 17 casualties and demanded the suspension of the duel. Luuk, with a header, a Chilean and a shot to the post changed raised a Barça that still had not given symptoms of reaction after the change of coach. It was Xavi’s ninth game and he added just his fourth victory.

saving points

Two games later, in Granada, Luuk equalized the Andalusian goal (1-1) and saved another point. And then, in Saudi Arabia, in the Super Cup against Madrid, he scored 1-1 in a match and a title that escaped in extra time (2-3). In all three games he started, a privilege that he lost in the Alavés field with the arrival of the three forwards from the winter market: Ferran Torres, Adama Traoré and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

It would have been the ideal time to get rid of him and release a federative record (the economic record is in charge of Sevilla), which must rub its hands before the possibility of transferring it and doing business. He is a specialist. The Andalusian club knows it. Luuk put him in the 2020 Europa League final and then signed two goals to give him the title.

Xavi, grateful

“We have this trick from Luuk, which is tremendous. I wouldn’t say he’s a supporting actor. He’s aware of his qualities, especially in the last few minutes and he’s given us a lot of points. I’m very happy for him because he’s an example for everyone” , said, grateful, Xavi on Sunday for the victory that Barça added in added time. Thanks to the fifth header from the tall Dutch striker (1.88 m.). Five of the seven goals have arrived by air.

Against Athletic, at the Camp Nou, he was doubly acclaimed: chanted when entering the 85th minute and for scoring in the 90th.

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Luuk went to the bench and became a substitute for emergencies. Less and less necessary because the results were favorable and more and more decisive in his appearances. Xavi called him in added time in the derby against Espanyol, who had come from behind and headed Adama’s center into the net (2-2). Before Athletic he appeared in a testimonial way, with the result protected, and to be honored by the public, who chanted his name. Doubly: when entering the 85th minute and when scoring in the 90th minute. Thanks to another center from Dembélé, and with his head, of course. On Sunday, the center came from the left and through Jordi Alba. “The team knows what they have to do when I enter the field”, corroborated the Dutch striker regarding the instructions given by Xavi. In moments of desperation, ball to the area. The result was once again in danger.

“This Luuk asset that is tremendous. I wouldn’t say he is a supporting actor. He is aware of his qualities and has given us a lot of points. I am very happy for him”

Xavi Hernández / Barça Coach

absent due to covid

“Although we didn’t play well, we found a way to win,” said Luuk, without losing sight of the fact that it will be necessary to analyze the bad Barça game, consecutive to the save against Eintracht. He was unable to come to the rescue because he had tested positive for coronavirus. The Sevilla one was also lost. “This is not the level of Barcelona,” he admitted in the paradox of being an essential type for the worst moments. “It’s difficult for rivals because they have to react to another type of striker. People know what my qualities are,” added Luuk de Jong, who has fully accepted his role. The one with the understudy who is often a hero.

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