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How Far Has Barça Fallen? Look No Further Than Luuk De Jong’s Performance Against Benfica

It's fair to say Barcelona's announcement of the signing of Luuk de Jong was met with skepticism and surprise. The fact that he was brought in specifically in line with the wishes of Ronald Koeman, with whom the Barça faithful's patience is wearing thin, can not have helped his cause. It also didn't help that he was brought in to ease the sting of Lionel Messi's departure, something which was never going to be easy.

De Jong put up respectable, if less than stellar, numbers with Sevilla after arriving in the south of Spain on the back of a strong spell back home in the Netherlands with PSV. 19 goals and five assists from 94 appearances were enough to make Koeman push to sign his compatriot on loan after the departure of Messi. The Dutchman's performance in front of goal in Barcelona's disastrous 3-0 defeat to Benfica on Wednesday was more reminiscent of his time spent at Newcastle United, though.

While his forgettable stint on Tyneside can be attributed in part to mitigating factors such as being played out of position and playing for a manager who was remarkably out of his depth in Alan Pardew, he didn't give Newcastle much to work with. Wednesday's performance paralleled that barren 2013-14 stint in which the unfortunate forward couldn't hit the side of a barn.

De Jong missed several close-range sitters as Barcelona was humbled by the Portuguese side, one of which was from less than a yard out. On a night when Barcelona's defense let the team down, De Jong was afforded chance after chance to salvage something for the side and his end product let him down.

It is, of course, still early days in De Jong's Barcelona tenure, but on the latest evidence it's clear to see why his arrival in Catalonia was met with derision and shock from Newcastle supporters.

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