Barcelona boss Xavi has outlined his plan for Frenkie de Jong as Erik ten Hag eyes his first signing for Manchester United.
Ten Hag will take over as the Red Devils’ next permanent manager at the end of the season. A massive squad overhaul is expected at Old Trafford over the summer following a dreadful campaign in the Premier League.
One of the main players linked with being part of Ten Hag’s new-look United side is De Jong. The midfielder played under the current Ajax boss for two years at the Johan Cruyff Arena, before earning a big-money move to Barcelona.
He has become a regular starter under Xavi, but has completed 90 minutes just twice in Barca’s last 10 games. That trend continued in the defeat to Rayo Vallecano last week, with De Jong visibly frustrated at being hauled off after an hour.
With doubts increasing over his future at the Nou Camp, Xavi has now moved to insist De Jong remains part of his plans. While admitting that he needs to be more consistent, Xavi branded the 24-year-old as the “future” of Barca.
“He has to be a player that makes the difference and he does. There aren’t many players with his quality in the world. He’s the present and the future [at Barca]. He is a very important player for me,” Xavi said.
He’s capable, strong, he gets into the box… He has had some excellent games, but he has to be consistent. We had a face-to-face chat this week and it went well. Obviously being taken off is frustrating for him, but I have to look out for the team.”
Xavi will hope to convince him to snub a departure, with ESPN reporting that despite his recent disappointment, De Jong’s ‘desire’ to is stay at Barca. In a further boost, it is stated that Ten Hag’s arrival at United does not ‘necessarily enhance’ their chances of signing him.
Though Barca’s financial situation remains precarious, De Jong’s contract does provide some security, with his current deal not expiring until 2026. He will hope to feature on Sunday when Barca host Mallorca, with a win taking them back to second in the La Liga table.