Frenkie de Jong has become an increasingly polarising figure in Catalonia.
His performances in the Champions League with Ajax seduced the whole of Europe on their iconic run to the semi-finals, but it’s been far from smooth sailing since he arrived in Barcelona.
A large part of that of course comes from the fact the club and team itself have struggled to function, but three years down the line, he still finds himself without a defined role in this Barcelona team.
Most recently against Rayo Vallecano, de Jong was substituted by Xavi Hernandez on the hour mark with Barcelona losing 1-0 to Rayo Vallecano. The Dutchman showed his frustration at the change as he walked around the pitch, something which was brought up in Xavi’s press conference on Saturday, covered by Sport.
“I have said it many times. Frenkie makes the difference and he needs to do so every match. We had a very positive face-to-face chat on an individual level. The change against Rayo frustrated him.”
“He’s very self-demanding. He has had excellent games this season. He is capable, he has strength, the capacity to arrive in the box, to score. I told him that.”
Some have linked de Jong away from the club, with former manager Erik ten Hag reportedly interested in taking him to Manchester United in the summer. Xavi was adamant that de Jong was important for the future and the present of the club then, which he did again on Saturday.
“I don’t see many players with his qualities on a global level. He has to transmit that. He is very important for the present and the future.”
De Jong will likely start on Sunday against Real Mallorca, with Nico Gonzalez and Pedri both injured. There was some good injury news for Culers though, as Xavi confirmed that Ansu Fati was returning tomorrow.