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Frenkie de Jong on Ronald Koeman and life at Barcelona

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong discusses his favoured position, his team-mates and working with new coach Ronald Koeman.

Frenkie de Jong is enjoying life in Barcelona
Frenkie de Jong is enjoying life in Barcelona Getty Images

Speaking to UEFA.com, the Netherlands international reflects on his first season as a Barcelona player.

Wednesday: Juventus vs Barcelona

On the Catalan lifestyle and family

Life in Barcelona is really comfortable. It's really good because the climate is really good, better than in Holland. We have the beach, we have the mountains and people are nice to me. I'm enjoying living in Barcelona a lot. The thing I miss most about Holland is my family. I like my family and friends close to me. I think that's the most difficult thing. The country itself and Barcelona as a city are amazing; it's more that family and friends are further away.

On Barça's Dutch connection

Classic Barcelona Champions League goals

I think Barcelona is really popular in Holland because a lot of Dutch players have played for Barcelona, and, of course, Johan Cruyff was the greatest Dutch player of all time; [he] played here and had a big influence on the club.

On Ronald Koeman's advice before joining Barça

I spoke to him [on the phone over a year ago] and he was really positive about Barcelona as a club as well as Barcelona as a city. So what he told me was almost all positive. He just told me I have to be careful, that I [shouldn't] go to restaurants too much or eat too much because life is really good in Barcelona and sometimes you can feel like you're on vacation the whole year. He just said, "Be careful with that and, for the rest, everything is really good." At the end of the day, football is the main part.

On working with Koeman

De Jong and Koeman on international duty
De Jong and Koeman on international dutyVI-Images via Getty Images

I think the communication between us, between the coach and me, is really good, and he tells [me] strictly what he demands from me in this position, and I think everything is really clear. When he's talking, you are listening to him because he has this authority, this power – I don't know how to explain it – and, of course, he has a lot of knowledge about football because I think he understands the game and was a great player before. So, if he tries to teach you something, you're listening.

On improving as a player

I think it's always difficult to tell whether I learned this or this or this. I think you're just developing in general as a person as well as a football player because if you're training and playing at the level we have at Barcelona and [against] the opponents we're playing, you're getting better as a player.

On playing in the pivot position

Frenkie de Jong passes to Lionel Messi
Frenkie de Jong passes to Lionel MessiGetty Images

I think in my nature as a player, I want to receive the ball early in the play and to set up the play. I think that's more my style of play than waiting for the ball and receiving it up front, and touching the ball less. I think I feel more comfortable in the pivot position than high up front, but I can also play high up front. It doesn't matter for me so much but, if I had to choose, I would rather play as a double pivot than, for example, as a mediapunta (false nine).

On his Barça team-mates

I think [Miralem Pjanić] is a really good player. He's really comfortable on the ball. I think he sees the play very well, and his shot, his pass, his long pass [are] really good. So, I think he's just a quality player who will bring a lot to our team. I'm really happy that he's joined us.

When you have [Lionel] Messi in your team, of course you have the best player in the world in your team, so you try to get him into the best positions to make a difference, and I think we need to adapt to him. When he is receiving the ball in a position where he can make the difference, he will make it for you, always.