De Jong not ready to play yet | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 23, 2020

De Jong not ready to play yet

Dutch international Frenkie de Jong said Thursday he was glad to resume training with Barcelona but is "not ready to play a game yet" after a two-month stoppage because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spanish clubs began training in groups of 10 players on Monday, in line with health protocols, as La Liga took another step towards a planned resumption next month.

"I was missing training, my team-mates, playing football and all that," De Jong said in an interview. "Two or three months is a long time. It is always nice to meet up again after a separation for holidays or whatever, but it's normally just three weeks or so and this was almost three months."

Teams in the top two divisions in Spain returned to training earlier this month, with players initially working individually as part of La Liga's staggered programme.

"I don't think I'm ready to play a game yet. We still need a few weeks of training. First individually, then in small groups and then as a whole team. We'll be ready to play again in a few weeks' time," said De Jong. "I think it was good to start by training separately because everyone worked at their own pace and could see how their fitness was before working with the rest of the group. I think everything felt good enough! It was a good build-up."

La Liga chief Javier Tebas is hopeful matches will return from June 12 but admitted the exact timing will depend on the health authorities in Spain and the trajectory of the virus.

De Jong is held in high regard and former Dutch international Ronald de Boer said he had the potential to successfully replace Sergio Busquets.

"People said he didn't reach the level he reached with Ajax last season in Europe or with the national team," De Boer told BarcaBlog.  "But not everyone can say that they play so many minutes with such a strong team, so I think he's doing well. You see how another young player like De Ligt had a harder time, while everyone thought he would play regularly from the start.

"He is a controller, you should not ask him to score 20 goals, he is not such a player. I am sure he will be a great successor to Busquets in the future."

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