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Xavi: ‘Frenkie de Jong is an important player’

Xavi: ‘Frenkie de Jong is an important player’

Barcelona boss Xavi has insisted that Frenkie de Jong is “not a backup” despite naming the midfielder on the bench for Saturday’s 2022-23 La Liga opener with Rayo Vallecano.

The Netherlands international continues to be linked with a move away from Camp Nou, with Manchester United and Chelsea believed to be competing to sign him before the end of the transfer window.

The speculation surrounding the midfielder’s future increased on Saturday evening when he was left out of the starting XI for Barcelona’s first match of the new campaign.

De Jong was eventually introduced in the 60th minute of the contest, replacing Gavi, but he could not help his side triumph, with the points being shared in a goalless draw.

After the match, Xavi branded De Jong “an important player” and suggested that he was only among the substitutes due to the uncertainty surrounding his future.

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong in action in July 2022© Reuters

“He is not a backup [player]. I’ve already said that. He’s an important player,” Xavi told reporters. “If he’s with us, he’s going to be a player who’s going to give us something. Even more so with this attitude.”

Speaking ahead of the match with Rayo, the Barcelona boss refused to guarantee that De Jong would still be at the club beyond the end of the summer transfer window.

“It is the same as Auba (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang), he (De Jong) is important for me. He’s in the squad and we will use him. I don’t know what will happen between now and 31 August, but not just with Frenkie or with Auba, with almost everyone in the squad,” Xavi told reporters.

The Catalan giants managed to register new signings Andreas Christensen, Franck Kessie, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski for the match with Rayo, and all four players were involved in the contest.

However, fellow new addition Jules Kounde has not yet been registered, with Barcelona allegedly needing to make a major sale or reduce their wage bill in order to solve the issue.

Barcelona boss Xavi on August 13, 2022© Reuters

A recent report claimed that De Jong has told his teammates that he could make the move to Man United before the end of the transfer window.

The Dutchman is still thought to be owed £17m by Barcelona in deferred wages, which is believed to be one of the main issues currently holding up his move away from the club.

Man United are believed to have come to an agreement with Barcelona over a €85m (£71.5m) deal, but they are yet to convince the former Ajax youngster to make the move to Old Trafford.

The 20-time English champions will not play in the Champions League this season, while they have started their 2022-23 Premier League campaign with back-to-back losses, which has left them bottom of the table.

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