Frenkie de Jong got his first start of pre-season for Barcelona yesterday as the Blaugrana beat New York Red Bulls 2-0 in the final match in the USA.
The Dutchman is the subject of a protracted transfer saga involving Manchester United, who have agreed a fee of €75 million plus €10 million in variables with the Spanish club.
De Jong has not agreed to the move and reports vary as to whether he genuinely refuses to leave Barça or whether he is simply holding out until the club pays him the €17 million in deferred wages he is owed.
Barça have been pressurising the player to leave and had not started him in a single tour game until yesterday.
Moreover, when he was given minutes against Inter Miami, Real Madrid and Juventus, they were at centre back, with the Catalans’ head coach Xavi suggesting that he was going to be re-invented in that position.
However, things looked a little more familiar yesterday as De Jong played in his natural central midfield position for the first 45 minutes.
After the game, Xavi admitted he does not know what the future holds for the Dutchman.
“I don’t know if he’s going to stay, there’s still time and a lot of things can still happen,” Xavi said (via Sport).
“At the moment he’s part of the team, like everyone else.”
The coach also denied that the previous switch to centre back was an attempt to pressure De Jong out of the club.
“The fact that he played as a central defender in the other games was not a sign that he was leaving,” he said.
“I don’t need to send signals on the pitch, I can speak directly with my footballers”.
Xavi’s words are significant as it is the first time he has publicly acknowledged that the 25 year old could be set to leave.
According to Cadena Ser, Barça are going to make a huge effort to resolve the situation in the coming days as De Jong’s departure is desperately needed for the club to be able to register its new players for the coming season.
“Barça will clearly tell Frenkie de Jong to leave the club. The exit operation must be accelerated in the club to avoid LaLiga problems registering signings,” the outlet tweeted.
🚨 👋 El Barça le dirá claramente a Frenkie de Jong que abandone el club
⚡️ Se debe acelerar la operación salida en el club para evitar problemas de LaLiga inscribiendo fichajes
⏩⏩⏩ Braithwaite, Neto y Riqui Puig deben buscar destino pronto pic.twitter.com/1m5Jsh2KL4
— El Larguero (@ellarguero) July 30, 2022
Barça are reported to have offered De Jong less than half of what he is owed but with the clock ticking, they simply have to increase the amount if they want him to leave.