Xavi suggests De Jong could stay after earning Barcelona 'three golden points'

By Sports Desk January 02, 2022

Xavi has suggested Luuk de Jong could stay at Barcelona beyond the January transfer window after firing his side to "three golden points" against Real Mallorca. 

De Jong's loan from Sevilla was expected to be terminated this month ahead of the forward joining fellow LaLiga side Cadiz for the remainder of the season.

However, the Netherlands international was required against Mallorca on Barca's return to action on Sunday due to a spate of COVID-19 cases in the Blaugrana camp.

After twice hitting the woodwork, De Jong headed in his second league goal of the campaign in the 44th minute to seal a 1-0 victory for Barca in Palma.

In doing so, he became the first Barca player other than Lionel Messi to hit the frame of the goal twice in a single LaLiga game since August 2019.

And with Xavi still waiting on other players to return to fitness, the recently appointed coach hinted De Jong may yet remain at Camp Nou for the rest of 2021-22.

"He is an example of a professional," Xavi said at his post-match news conference. "It is said that he can go out, but he works, he sacrifices himself. He is a hell of a professional. 

"I am happy with him. Of course I am contemplating him staying because today he has been useful to us. He is an example for everyone. 

"Depending on how you train, you will play. We will see the future. We will see if there are exits and entrances. But they are all hypotheses."

 

De Jong has scored eight headed goals in all competitions since the 2019-20 season, a record surpassed only by Karim Benzema (13), Ante Budimir (11) and Youssef En-Nesyri (nine) among LaLiga players in all competitions.

It was also Barca's seventh headed goal in LaLiga this season, which is the most of any side and the same number they managed across 38 league matches last time out.

That match-winning moment helped Barca to just a second victory in six games across all competitions as they moved fifth in LaLiga and within a point of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.

Xavi was pleased with the fighting spirit shown by his side, though the win would not have been possible if not for an impressive save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen to deny Juame Costa in stoppage time.

"There are three golden points," he said. "They way we played, and the circumstances we played in, this is a family victory. We have showed we know how to suffer.

"We had a very good first half and showed lots of personality. We are on the way up.

"We wanted the game to be suspended but I'm proud of the team, and proud of Marc. We needed him. He stopped a goal at the end and saved us.

"But the youngsters in the side are also helping us a lot. They have the right mentality and are well prepared. These three points put us in the fight for the top positions."

Riqui Puig was one of the many youngsters on display for Barca, the academy product making his landmark 50th appearance for the club in all competitions.

He completed 66 of his 69 passes for a passing accuracy of 96 per cent that no other Barcelona player could match on the day.

"Riqui was very good," Xavi said. "As were the others, like [Oscar] Mingueza and [Ferran] Jutgla. They have all worked hard for the team and it is exciting for us.

"This is the way forward and this victory is an example of that."

Dani Alves and Jordi Alba missed Sunday's win after testing positive for coronavirus, but the pair have since returned negative tests and have been given the green light to return to training from Monday.

Related items

  • Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona: Bittersweet farewell for Xavi as Barca end season with a win Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona: Bittersweet farewell for Xavi as Barca end season with a win

    Barcelona ended the season with a 2-1 victory at Sevilla in LaLiga on Sunday, making departing coach Xavi's farewell bittersweet after a trophy-less season.

    La Blaugrana came out all guns blazing from the start and took the lead in the 15th minute through Robert Lewandowski who scored from close range after latching onto Joao Cancelo's cross.

    Sevilla levelled with Youssef En-Nesyri's strike in the 31st minute and went close again but failed to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Barca got the winner on the hour through Fermin Lopez.

    Barca were already guaranteed second place going into Xavi's final game. The Spaniard was sacked on Friday, after a disappointing campaign in which they lost the Spanish Supercopa final to Real Madrid and were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-final.

    Data Debrief: A legend departs

    Xavi never lost any of his six games as a manager against Sevilla in LaLiga (W5 D1), making them just the third opponent that he faced six times without defeat (also W5 D1 against Real Mallorca and Osasuna).

    Fermin got the all-important goal to ensure Xavi's tenure ended on a high note. He has scored seven goals in LaLiga in 2024, a record surpassed by only one other Spanish player in Europe's top five leagues this year: Iago Aspas (eight). 

  • Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka

    Andy Murray bowed out in the opening round of what is likely to be his final French Open appearance, following a straight-sets defeat by Stan Wawrinka.

    The Swiss ran out a commanding 6-4 6-4 6-2 victor in two hours and 19 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier, and could play Murray's compatriot Cameron Norrie in round two.

    Murray was facing Wawrinka for a third successive match at Roland Garros, having lost out to the latter in the 2020 first round and 2017 semi-finals.

    The 2015 champion stole an early advantage this time around, too, breaking in the opening game and subsequently holding to win the first set.

    A single break was also enough in the second set as Wawrinka doubled his lead.

    Murray has repeatedly said he is approaching the end of his career, revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

    However, the 2016 runner-up's chances of extending what is potentially his French Open swansong were all but ended as Wawrinka broke twice in the third set for a 4-0 lead, before the 39-year-old rounded off a dominant win.

    Data Debrief

    Wawrinka (39) and Murray (37) locked horns in the second-oldest match-up at Roland Garros this century, behind the 2019 first-round showdown between Ivo Karlovic (40) and Feliciano Lopez (37).

    And the Swiss was not to be denied, as he became the oldest man to win a match at the French Open since compatriot Roger Federer three years ago.

  • Verona 2-2 Inter: Arnautovic double earns point for Serie A winners Verona 2-2 Inter: Arnautovic double earns point for Serie A winners

    Champions Inter end their Serie A season with a 2-2 draw against Verona thanks to a Marko Arnautovic double.

    The Austrian opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a neat finish, but Inter were soon pegged back as Tijjani Noslin equalised six minutes later.

    The Dutchman then set up Tomas Suslov for their second to turn the game on its head, but another smart finish from Arnautovic on the stroke of half-time ensured they would salvage a point.

    Simone Perilli proved the hero for Verona in the end, pulling off a string of fine saves to keep his side level.

    Data Debrief: Landmark for Inzaghi

    Simone Inzaghi has now earned 250 points as a coach in Serie A with Inter, an achievement only Roberto Mancini has reached so far with the Nerazzurri in the three-points-per-win era (436). This draw takes him up to the landmark after 77 wins and 19 draws (18 losses).

    After winning the Scudetto with five games to go, Inzaghi has led Inter to 94 points in Serie A, with only three teams ever earning more points in a single campaign in the competition in the three-points-per-win era: Inter in 2006-07 (97) and Juventus in 2013-14 (102) and 2017-18 (95).

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.