'Anything can happen' – Xavi not ruling out De Jong and Aubameyang Barca exits

By Sports Desk August 12, 2022

Barcelona coach Xavi refused to rule out exits for Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the eve of their LaLiga opener, acknowledging "anything can happen".

Manchester United's interest in De Jong has evolved into one of the longest-running sagas of the transfer window, while Chelsea are being strongly linked with both the Netherlands midfielder and Barca striker Aubameyang.

Although Xavi and president Joan Laporta have expressed confidence Barca will overcome their financial woes to register a host of new acquisitions ahead of Saturday's fixture against Rayo Vallecano, they are trying to offload players and reduce the wage bill.

While Xavi still considers both men key players, he made it clear they may depart before the transfer window closes.

"From here until August 31 a lot can happen, but I like Aubameyang a lot," Xavi told a news conference on Friday.

"He helped us a lot, he's an important player for me, he arrived here with a lot of humility, a good work ethic, so we'll see what happens."

On De Jong's future, the Blaugrana boss added: "It's the same as Aubameyang, he's an important player and he's part of the squad. 

"If I can use him, great. From now until the 31st we will see what possibilities there are and where we are with regards to our participation in the market. 

"From now until August 31, anything can happen with Frenkie and with any players in the squad."

Reports have suggested tensions are high between De Jong and the club after he appeared to be jeered by a group of supporters while arriving at training earlier this week.

But Xavi denies there is any ill-feeling towards De Jong, who joined from Ajax for a reported fee of €75million in 2019.

"I didn't hear whistles, I heard applause," Xavi claimed. "People are able to express how and when they want, I'm here to try to improve the squad and make a cohesive unit. 

"It depends on how you perform on the pitch whether they support you or whistle. I think Frenkie can help the squad very well, he's helped the club also and I have no complaints."

 

One player who is set to leave Barcelona is young midfielder Nico Gonzalez, who declared on Wednesday he would be joining Valencia on a season-long loan.

Nico made 37 appearances for Barca last season – although only 17 were starts – and Xavi revealed the 20-year-old asked to leave.

"He came to me three weeks ago. I insisted that he continue because he would have minutes. I like Nico," Xavi said. "But a few days ago, he came back and told me that there was a team where he would play. 

"He has been brave and is going to Valencia. I hope he comes back more mature because it will be important for the future of Barca. 

"For the midfield we have Busquets, [Miralem] Pjanic, [Franck] Kessie, Frenkie, Sergi Roberto, and even [Andreas] Christensen who can play there."

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