De Jong played and scored the final goal in Barca’s 6-0 Joan Gamper trophy win over Pumas UNAM on Sunday night.
He came on as a substitute and returned to his usual midfield position after a series of displays as a centre-back.
One of the games in particular left fans stunned, with De Jong showing that he is of a higher level than United’s current midfielders.
He received the ball from Jordi Alba and was immediately pressured by Barca legend and former team-mate Dani Alves.
But he turned his body beautifully, deftly turning the 39-year-old Alves back to Sevilla. He then went on to break through the midfielder, swept the other opponent with ease, and then played a glorious defensive split pass that should have netted the hosts.
Earlier, Fred and McTominay were well below par as Eric ten Haag’s United lost 2-1 at home to Brighton in their first game of the season.
If they haven’t already, United fans are well aware of the stark contrast in quality:
Fred conceded a big chance on the catch, McTominay conceded the ball on a forward dribble, Bruno fouled on the final ball…
This guy is simply better than the entire midfield combined.@Manchester United https://t.co/nkL5aeJjxl
— Tuchar (@Icarus07_) August 7, 2022
Fred can only turn one way and use one foot, while De Jong can dribble after receiving the ball from his back. Compare the compactness and strength of this press with the Brighton presses implemented today. It’s the same.The only difference is the quality pic.twitter.com/eOugXNRAz8
— EBL (@EBL2017) August 7, 2022
De Jong scored in the 84th minute, followed by goals from Robert Lewandowski, Pedri, Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Meanwhile, United finished their first game of the new season with Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek in midfield.
“McTominay is always trying to run with the ball, it’s ridiculous,” he said in the Premier League.
“The quality of the midfield is really poor.
“I’m glad he wasn’t sent off [for a high challenge] But I think he was a little lucky. Again, he runs with the ball, absolutely ridiculous. This is likely to be a red card. The quality of the midfield is far from good, but we have seen both players perform over the past few years.
“With Fred and McTominay, he [Ten Hag] Will have to choose just one of them, but even one might be too much.
“Fred keeps dropping the ball, McTominay keeps trying to run with the ball and drop it. Pass it on to your best player! It’s not that hard. In a day like today, it’s crime.”