Barcelona boss Xavi insists he was not trying to send any message to Frenkie de Jong by playing him out of position in defence after being subbed on at half-time in their 1-src friendly win against Real Madrid.
De Jong, 25, has been at the centre of Barcelona’s transfer discussions this off-season, with the widespread belief that the club must sell him to balance their books after expensive moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
The Dutch international is not totally inexperienced in defence, but he is undoubtedly more comfortable in the centre of midfield, but with plenty of competition for that position, Xavi said he was simply taking advantage of De Jong’s versatility.
“No, I didn’t send any messages,” he said. “I think [De Jong] can be adapted.
“The message is personal and already chatted with him. He knows he is valued. I value him a lot as a footballer – he knows… for me, he is a fundamental footballer for the team’s game.
“Then, I insist, there is an economic situation in the club, the situation of [financial] fair play, but for me there is no doubt that he is a very important footballer, and playing as a central defender he can give us many things.
“We have signed Andreas [Chistensen], we also have Eric [Garcia], we have Gerard [Pique], we have Ronald [Araujo] there, who can also adapt as a full-back.
“We now have a lot of competition and that is good for the team, but Frenkie can adapt very well as a centre-back. He sees the game very well when he controls the ball, he doesn’t lose the ball and I like it.
“No, that position is not a message. I would never do it as a coach.”
Barcelona’s next friendly is against Juventus on Tuesday.
Pre Season pic.twitter.com/L3eZfuPfSq
— Frenkie de Jong (@DeJongFrenkie21) July 2src, 2src22