Xavi is confident that Barcelona will land their transfer targets in the next window but was unwilling to confirm whether Erling Haaland is one of those his side are chasing.

Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo reported on Wednesday that Barcelona are growing increasingly confident of winning the race for in-demand Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland.

The 21-year-old has been linked with an array of Europe's elite clubs, including Barca's rivals Real Madrid, after scoring 80 goals in 79 games for Dortmund in all competitions.

That is a tally bettered only by Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (115 goals in 97 matches) among players from Europe's top five leagues since January 2020.

Haaland has a reported €75million release clause that kicks in at the end of the season, although Barca's well-documented financial issues over the past year would make any deal difficult.

While falling short of confirming whether his side are looking to recruit Haaland, Xavi insisted Camp Nou is a lure for any player, despite Barca's relative recent plight.

"You say I have met with Haaland – I didn't know that!" Xavi said at a pre-match news conference previewing Thursday's Europa League match with Galatasaray.

"It's always a good time to come to Barca for any footballer. There isn't a footballer who has said no to Barca since I've been here.

"The player we want to sign, when we can talk to him, we talk to him about the game model, about the training sessions.

"If you will touch 20 balls at another club, here you will touch 40. The club, the city that is wonderful, the history of Barca...

"I will try to convince any player that coming to Barca is a golden opportunity."

 

Speculation regarding Haaland's future will likely rumble on for a number of months yet, but Barca are hopeful of completing some transfer business of sorts before then.

Gavi and Ronald Araujo are both set to be out of contract next year, though the club are working to tie both players down to fresh terms.

"They are two very important players," Xavi said. "The club's working very well and they are a priority for us. 

"It is a process. Sometimes the negotiations take a long time. We hope for the good of the club that there is an agreement."

Barca host Galatasaray on Wednesday for the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie boasting an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

While the Catalans are considered the favourites of many to lift the trophy in May, Xavi believes perennial winners Sevilla are the team to beat.

"I don't see us as one of the favourites. We have never won the competition," he said. "Sevilla are more favourites than us. 

"We are one of the candidates and we have to prove it on the pitch. There is enthusiasm in Barcelona. Every game at Barca is an exam, but we haven't done anything yet."

Barca have faced Galatasaray eight times previously, winning each of the past three meetings, the most recent of those a 3-1 win in the 2002-03 Champions League group stage.

Xavi was left disappointed Barcelona's victory at Elche was not more comfortable despite an ending that prompted a heated discussion with his coaching counterpart.

Barca were forced to come from behind to prevail in Sunday's contest and stretch their unbeaten run in LaLiga to 11 matches.

Fidel gave Elche a 44th-minute lead at the end of a first half in which Frenkie De Jong saw an effort cleared off the line and another saved by Edgar Badia.

Ferran Torres' first league goal for Barca on the hour mark restored parity, but the Blaugrana needed a contentious Memphis Depay penalty to tilt the game in their favour, referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez pointing to the spot in the 82nd minute after consultation with the VAR, adjudging Antonio Barragan had handled in the area.

Shortly after, Elche were left apoplectic as the ball struck Jordi Alba on the arm in the area, yet the referee was unmoved despite huge appeals for a penalty of their own.

Unused substitute Javier Pastore was sent off for his protestations, while Elche boss Francisco Rodriguez and striker Pere Milla were seen in an animated conversation with Xavi after the final whistle.

Asked what was happening during that exchange, Xavi replied: "Nothing, no more. Don't give it more importance. They are situations resulting from tension. 

"Better to talk about the match and the situations of the match itself. Maximum respect for Elche and Francisco. And with Pere Milla we even have friends in common."

He added: "I went into the break angry because I think we didn't deserve to lose at that moment. 

"Edgar Badia has made a great game. I was upset but I was hoping that if we attacked better, we could win the game. But I think we should have won by more than one goal."

Xavi's assessment is reflected by the statistics. Barca's expected goals (xG) tally of 4.2 was the fourth-highest for a team in a single LaLiga game this season. By contrast, Elche finished with an xG of 0.9.

The win took Barca third, placing the pressure on top-four rivals Real Betis and Atletico Madrid ahead of their meeting at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday.

Xavi insisted he "cannot give details" on a potential transfer for Erling Haaland, but assured Barcelona are "working for the present and the future" in their dealings.

Haaland has thrived in the Bundesliga since he arrived at Borussia Dortmund from Salzburg in January 2020, scoring 80 goals in 79 appearances across all competitions.

That has made him one of the most sought-after talents, with a host of European's elite circling for when his reported €75million release clause kicks in at the end of this season.

Barca, Real Madrid and Manchester City are said to be the main suitors for the Norway international, who is yet to make his Dortmund future clear.

The Blaugrana club have confirmed 18-year-old winger Pablo Torre will sign from Racing Santander at the end of the season in a deal that could cost them more than €20million, and Xavi was asked whether the teenager could be joined by Haaland.

"I can't give details," he responded at a news conference previewing Sunday's LaLiga clash with Elche.

"The only thing I can say about Haaland is that we are working for Barca, for the present and future. If we announce something, you will know. Like yesterday with Pablo Torre."

 

Kylian Mbappe seems set to join Barca's Clasico rivals Madrid when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires in June, and Xavi would welcome the France international's arrival in LaLiga, even if it is not at the Camp Nou.

"The more players at this level, of course, the league would improve," Xavi said. "Obviously, it would be even more attractive."

Xavi believes that Barca still have the pulling power to attract high-profile signings, while he detailed his plans for the incoming Torre.

"It's still one of the advantages," Xavi said of Barca's ability in the transfer market. 

"It's explaining the project, trust and being honest with the player we want to sign. The model, the idea of the game, which he will enjoy, the club, which is the best in the world, the city.

"The most important thing is that I haven't seen any player who has said no to Barca. They all want to come. It's exciting to come to Barca.

"We have been following Pablo. He is a natural talent. He can play inside, on the wing, he dominates with both feet.

"He is very young and has the ability to play for Barca for years. It depends on him and his mentality. 

"He is a great signing for the present and future. He will have be involved with the first team, but he will play the role of Abde [Ezzalzouli] and [Ferran] Jutgla as a rotational option."

Pedri will only be further motivated by comparisons to Andres Iniesta, so says Barcelona boss Xavi.

Blaugrana great Xavi referenced his former team-mate Iniesta while lauding Pedri in midweek.

Pedri has previously drawn comparisons to Iniesta due to his silky footwork and neat passing ability, but Xavi did not hold back in enthusing over the teenager's talent following a wonderful showing in Barca's 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao last week.

"How [Pedri] understands the game, it's wonderful to watch him play," Xavi told reporters after that game. "He reminds me a lot of Andres Iniesta, I haven't seen many talents like that."

Next up for Barca is a trip to Elche on Sunday, and Xavi was pressed on his comments on Pedri in the pre-match news conference.

While regretting any criticism that has come about since he made those comparisons, he believes they are fully justified.

"It came naturally to me to compare him to Iniesta," Xavi said.

"He reminds me of him, he keeps reminding me of him, I don't think differently. [But] I feel bad about the criticism."

 

Iniesta won nine LaLiga titles with Barca and was a key part, along with Xavi, of the treble-winning sides of 2009 and 2015.

The midfielder also won the Champions League four times and was twice a European champion with Spain. That is without mentioning his match-winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, Spain beating the Netherlands 1-0.

Xavi, however, does not believe Pedri is afraid of being compared to one of the modern-day greats.

"Iniesta is the greatest talent I've seen in the history of Spanish football, that I've ever seen," Xavi added.

"This will motivate Pedri. I'm not afraid and neither is he. He's a very normal guy."

Ronald Koeman believes he was not afforded the same support successor Xavi has received from the Barcelona hierarchy and says he will not return to the club while Joan Laporta remains president.

In an interview with Dutch newspaper AD, Koeman also questioned why Lionel Messi had to leave Barca, only for the club to reinvest in new attackers under Xavi.

Koeman, who made 264 appearances for the Blaugrana as a player, was sacked as the club's head coach last October with the team sat ninth in LaLiga.

The former Netherlands boss has now opened up on his tenure in the Barca dugout, during which he battled with a dire financial situation and the departure of Camp Nou icon Messi, saying Laporta did not afford him the support he needed.

"I just wasn't Laporta's trainer," the 58-year-old said. "I had that feeling from the very first moment I met him, after he won the election [in January 2021]. There was no click. The necessary support from above was lacking.

"He told me a thousand times that Xavi would not become his trainer either, because he lacked the experience. But he needed a shield, someone to hide behind.

"You won't see me in the Camp Nou for a while, I can't do that yet. Not with this chairman. I can't pretend nothing happened.

"The time the new trainer was given was not given to me. I still find that painful. I was dealing with all those injuries, now Pedri is fit again, and Dembele. [Xavi] had the same problem as me in the beginning: many injured players.

"Every trainer needs time and patience from the leadership. Xavi got that, and reinforcements. He has gained three attackers [Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang], I would have liked that too.

"But I'm happy for the club, that things are going better now, and for the players."

 

Meanwhile, the Dutchman also admitted he was confused to see Laporta give the green light to the big-money signing of Torres in January, mere months after the club's financial crisis led to Messi's departure.  

"It was at the insistence of the club management that I agreed to the departure of some players," Koeman stressed. "In order to get the finances in order.

"But when you then see that they attract someone for 55million [the fee paid to Manchester City for Torres] shortly after they let Messi go, you wonder if there wasn't more going on.

"Why did Messi have to leave?"

The arrivals of Xavi and a host of new attackers have had a major impact on the Catalan club, and Barcelona go into Sunday's trip to Elche unbeaten in 10 LaLiga matches (six wins and four draws). 

This marks their longest unbeaten run in the competition since April 2021 (19 games), and the second longest current run in the competition (Sevilla are unbeaten in 12).

The Blaugrana are currently battling a host of clubs, including Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, and Real Sociedad, for Champions League qualification, sitting fourth in LaLiga with 13 games remaining.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta hopes Ousmane Dembele changes his stance and reconsiders the contract offer from the Catalan club.

Dembele has failed to agree an extension to his current contract, which is due to expire at the end of this season, leading to a spell on the sidelines in January as the winger became an unpopular figure with fans at Camp Nou.

The 24-year-old did not secure a move away from Barca last month, and head coach Xavi has slowly reintroduced him.

Dembele delivered a masterful attacking show in a 23-minute cameo against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, scoring one and assisting two more as Barca cruised to a 4-0 victory.

That made him the first Blaugrana substitute to play a part in three goals in a single LaLiga game this century, and Laporta expressed his hopes the former Borussia Dortmund could yet stay.

"Dembele knows our offer and that we have always wanted him to stay. We hope that at the end of the season he will reconsider it," Laporta said on Monday, as quoted by Cadena SERe.

While Dembele shone against Athletic, Xavi also reserved special praise after the game for Pedri, who he compared to former team-mate Andres Iniesta.

The Spain midfielder attempted (92) and completed (86) more passes on Sunday than in any prior LaLiga match for Barca, also setting a new high for touches (107).

Laporta followed Xavi's plaudits as he hailed the former Las Palmas man's recent outings.

"[Pedri] is destined to be one of the best players in the world, if not the best, but he knows that he has to work hard," Laporta said.

Barcelona head coach Xavi compared Pedri to Blaugrana legend Andreas Iniesta, while he hailed the performance of Ousmane Dembele against Athletic Bilbao.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's fourth goal in his past two LaLiga appearances put the Catalan side in control against Athletic on Sunday, before a late flurry added deserved gloss to the scoreline.

Substitute Dembele, whose future remains in doubt after failing to agree to an extension on a contract that expires at the end of the season, scored one and assisted two more for substitutes Luuk de Jong and the fit-again Memphis Depay.

With those involvements, Dembele become the first Barca substitute to play a part in at least three goals in a single LaLiga game in the 21st century.

After moving back into LaLiga's top four with a 4-0 success, Xavi reserved special praise for midfielder Pedri and Dembele.

"How [Pedri] understands the game, it's wonderful to watch him play," Xavi told reporters. "He reminds me a lot of Andres Iniesta, I haven't seen many talents like that.

"I see many scenarios for Dembele, we have seen the Dembele that we want and know he is capable of doing."

Asked whether the France international will stay at the club, Xavi added: "That is no longer my thing, I have always said that he has been very professional."

Barca sit level on points with Atletico Madrid, who ran out 2-0 victors against Celta Vigo on Saturday, and moved just one shy of third-placed Real Betis after they fell to Sevilla.

The Blaugrana still boast a game in hand over their fellow top-four contenders and Xavi refused to give up hope on any possible outcome in LaLiga.

"The feelings are getting better and better," he continued. "The team is training very well, that's why the results come.

"We have worked very well and it has paid off against a team that has a very good middle and low block and that defended very well.

"Even with the [seven] changes they made, they are a strong team. Putting four goals past Athletic is not easy at all, Marcelino's teams are always very hard-working and difficult.

"We're fourth, we'll go for third, then second and if it reaches us we'll go for first. You have to be realistic and humble and keep working day by day, nothing more."

Barca have lost just one of their past 15 top-flight fixtures and will look to continue their impressive run of form when they visit Elche next Sunday.

Ousmane Dembele netted his first LaLiga goal of the season and added two assists in a dazzling cameo as Barcelona moved back into LaLiga's top four with a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.

Dembele has become an unpopular figure with Barca fans after failing to agree an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of the season, but his thunderous effort six minutes after arriving from the bench made sure of a Camp Nou victory on Sunday.

After Atletico Madrid had leapfrogged the Blaugrana with their win on Saturday, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continued his fine recent scoring form to set Xavi's side on their way, before Dembele struck and then twice crossed for Luuk de Jong and the fit-again Memphis Depay in the closing stages.

And with Real Betis beaten by rivals Sevilla, Barca are now just a point behind third place with a game in hand as their season maintains its upwards trajectory.

 

Gerard Pique saw a header cleared on the line by Oier Zarraga while Ferran Torres tested Unai Simon with a stinging volley as Barca dominated the opening exchanges.

The reward for Xavi's hosts arrived on 37 minutes when Aubameyang acrobatically finished after Pique headed against the crossbar from Dani Alves' corner.

Torres should have doubled his side's advantage past the hour mark, but his tame effort was pushed away by the onrushing Simon, who then denied Aubameyang's weak header.

Simon was powerless to stop Dembele, though, as substitute Frenkie de Jong found the winger, who smashed a left-footed attempt in from the left side of the box, earning a touch off the post as he put the game beyond doubt.

There was still time for Luuk de Jong to flick a header into the bottom-left corner following Dembele's pinpoint delivery from the right, before the France international repeated the trick to find Depay, who turned in from close range for the final goal.

Barcelona boss Xavi has been impressed by his side's January signings.

Xavi has overseen an unbeaten run of nine league matches, as his rejuvenated team chase Champions League qualification, while the Catalan giants also claimed a 5-3 aggregate win over Serie A title contenders Napoli in the Europa League. 

Barca's performances have been buoyed by the arrivals of Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the latter of the trio becoming just the fourth player to score in the Spanish, English, German, and French top flights this century when he netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of Valencia last week.

Each of the trio then registered goal contributions in Barca's thrilling 4-2 win in Naples on Thursday, and Xavi was keen to highlight the impact that his new forwards have had on his side.

Xavi believes Barcelona produced "the most complete performance of our season" during the second leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off victory over Napoli.

The Blaugrana stormed through to the last 16 of the competition after completing a commanding 5-3 aggregate victory thanks to a 4-2 triumph at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Thursday.

First-half goals from Jordi Alba, Frenkie De Jong and Gerard Pique put the visitors in control in Naples, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled the tie before the hour mark.

Barca registered 16 shots to their opponents' seven – with their four goals coming from six on target – while they enjoyed 56 per cent of possession and won 54.8 per cent of the duels throughout the contest.

And Xavi was delighted as his side booked their place in Friday's last-16 draw.

"Perhaps, this was the most complete performance of our season," the head coach said. "We wanted to dominate and we did. 

"I'm happy about the effort we put in and with the football we played. The result is fair. 

"I am very happy for the players and this is the way forward.  We are on the right road.

"We pressed well, high up, whenever we lost the ball – just like we did at home. 

"Napoli pressed high up and spaces were available in behind them. From defending a corner, we made a textbook counter-attack. We took advantage of our fast players. 

"We understood how to create and use a 'free man'. I'm very happy for the team."

Barcelona head coach Xavi wants his side to prove they can compete in Europe by defeating "Champion League rival" Napoli.

Barca were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off tie last Thursday after spurning numerous chances at Camp Nou. 

Indeed, Ferran Torres had nine shots against Luciano Spalletti's side, a tally surpassed only once by a player in a European game for the club in the last 10 seasons (Lionel Messi when he had 11 against Juventus in December 2020).

History favours Napoli heading into the second leg as they have only ever lost one home game against Spanish sides in European competition (W6 D3), and Xavi is expecting another difficult challenge.

He told reporters at Wednesday's pre-match media conference: "Barca has been great with a specific model. They've been losing it a bit and we're on the way to recovering it.

"Tomorrow [Thursday] is a litmus test to know where we are. We are in the Europa League, but Napoli are a Champions League rival.

"It will be a battle of who has the ball and possession. It's Europe and it's difficult, but it's a good test to prove that Barca can compete in Europe."

Xavi also suggested that the homegrown talent from La Masia will be key for the Blaugrana's success, both now and in future.

"We count on the academy a lot," he added. The players give a lot of commitment. We have won titles when we have had people from [our academy]. 

"That's why the talents of Gavi, Nico or [Ronald] Araujo or the older players like [Sergio] Busquets or [Gerard] Pique are important. 

"We are seeing that players who are 17 or 18 years old can make a difference."

Barca are battling it out with Atletico Madrid for the final spot in Spain's top four and a place in next season's Champions League, currently sat on 42 points while boasting a game in hand.

But Xavi believes the results for his side have not matched some of their performances this campaign.

"If you let me choose, I want to play well and win," he continued. Playing well and getting good results. 

"There have been games, with me as coach, where we played well and didn't win. 

"We are growing and this is about results. The results are matching our performances around 50 per cent of the time."

Xavi and Sergio Busquets hailed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the former Arsenal man netted a hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-1 hammering of Valencia.

The Gabon striker netted either side of Frenkie De Jong's tap-in to give Barca a 3-0 half-time lead, before completing his treble in bizarre circumstances on the hour-mark, after Carlos Soler had pulled one back for Valencia.

Barcelona's fourth goal of Sunday's LaLiga contest was originally credited to Pedri, but has since been awarded to the 32-year-old, who got the slightest of touches on the youngster's long-range effort.

It was the first time Aubameyang, who was making his first LaLiga start, has scored multiple goals in a league game since he helped himself to a hat-trick for Arsenal against Leeds United 12 months ago, and Xavi was thrilled with the forward's contribution.

"He has scored goals his entire career," he said. 

"It was to be expected that he would score here soon too. He goes very well to [find] space, he is mature, he is very intelligent.

"I am delighted with him. These goals will be very good for him."

Aubameyang's opening goal made him just the fourth player to score in the Spanish, English, German, and French top flights this century, after Stevan Jovetic, Michy Batshuayi, and James Rodriguez, while the striker also became the first Gabonese player to net in LaLiga.

 

Barca captain Busquets was equally effusive in his praise for his new team-mate.

"He is working very well, he arrived with a lack of minutes, but he is getting them [now]. He is a great player and it is a luxury to have him in the squad, [especially] after arriving for free," Busquets said.

"Without Aubameyang's help, perhaps the goalkeeper would have been able to stop it [Barcelona's fourth goal]."

Although Pedri saw the final goal of the match taken away from him, the quality of his initial strike did not go unnoticed by Xavi, who said the midfielder is amongst the most talented players in world football.

"He is superlative," the Barca boss said. "At that level of talent, there is no other [player] in the world like Pedri, and he is only 19 years old.

"We ask him to shoot [more often]. We demand it, he has a good shot. He is very young and shy, but not everyone has the skills he has."

Barcelona moved into LaLiga's top four with the win, scoring four or more goals in a single away league game against Valencia for the first time since December 1993.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his first goals for Barcelona as Xavi's team moved back into LaLiga's top four with a 4-1 thrashing of Valencia.

Aubameyang's double and one from Frenkie de Jong gave the visitors a commanding half-time lead at the Mestalla, with the hosts having two goals ruled out before the break.

Carlos Soler pulled one back for Valencia, before Pedri's superb strike added some gloss to the scoreline on the hour mark.

The victory moved the rejuvenated Catalan giants above Atletico Madrid into fourth place as they chase Champions League qualification.

After a scrappy start to the contest, Aubameyang netted his first goal for the Blaugrana on 22 minutes, racing onto Jordi Alba's pass before hammering home at Giorgi Mamardashvili's near post.

Xavi has reiterated his "absolute confidence" in Ferran Torres.

Barcelona signed Spain international Torres from Manchester City for €55million in December.

The 21-year-old had managed just four Premier League appearances for City in the first half of the campaign, scoring twice, as he suffered a fractured metatarsal while on international duty in October.

Torres has yet to score in three LaLiga starts for Barca, though he netted from the penalty spot to salvage a 1-1 home draw with Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday.

Yet that was the only one of the forward's nine attempts to hit the target as he passed up a series of glaring opportunities, appearing to be close to tears at full-time having accounted for 1.47 of Barca's 2.03 expected goals.

In six games in all competitions so far, Torres has scored twice, with those strikes coming from both of his shots on target. He has failed to trouble the goalkeeper with his other 15 attempts. 

Xavi, however, insisted after Thursday's game that he was sure Torres would find form soon, and ahead of Sunday's clash with Valencia in LaLiga, the Barca great reaffirmed his stance.

"We talked," Xavi told a news conference when asked about Torres. "There is absolute confidence in him. He is great and will be even greater.

"It is not blind confidence in him. He will make a difference. I have no doubts."

 

Torres has been thrust straight into Barca's line-up, with Memphis Depay having not featured since playing in the Supercopa de Espana defeat to Real Madrid on January 12.

The Netherlands forward, who has eight goals to his name this season, is now nearing a return from a hamstring injury, though.

"We are waiting for him. He is almost ready," Xavi said of Depay. 

"This week is the definitive one. He is a player who scores goals, [can play] a last pass. He will help us a lot."

Another option up front for Xavi to consider is Ousmane Dembele. Barca attempted to sell the France international in January, and the winger will leave at the end of the season.

However, Dembele has appeared as a substitute in Barca's last two matches and Xavi has confirmed he is in contention to start on Sunday.

"He could be a starter, or on Thursday [in the second leg against Napoli]," Xavi added. "When he has played, he has been involved. He is one more."

Barca have avoided defeat in their last eight LaLiga games (W4 D4), scoring in each of those matches (15 goals on aggregate), both their longest unbeaten and scoring runs in the competition this season.

Barcelona are still adjusting to life without Lionel Messi, so says Frenkie de Jong, who has no intention of leaving the Blaugrana any time soon.

De Jong joined Barca from Ajax in 2019, arriving with high expectations as the Catalan giants planned to push on following their LaLiga success under Ernesto Valverde.

Yet over the subsequent two-and-a-half years, the club have suffered a significant dip in fortunes, with a lone Copa del Rey title and Messi's exit among the highs and lows since.

De Jong has played under Valverde, Quique Setien and Ronald Koeman before working under current coach and Barca legend Xavi.

He has been linked with a move away from Barca over the last season, but he remains thrilled to be at the club he wanted to play for as a boy, even if the silverware has not flown as freely as it might have done.

"I'm very happy I'm at Barcelona: from a young age I've wanted to be here, so in that way it has been a dream come true," the Netherlands international told The Guardian.

"But, of course, I would have liked to win more trophies than we did in my first two years. I expected more in that sense, let's put it that way. But other than that, I'm very happy here and hopefully for many more years."

Learning to live without Messi, who ended his career-long association with the club to move to Paris Saint-Germain last year amid financial difficulties, has been tough, though.

"I never took it into serious consideration, so when it happened it was a shock," De Jong explained.

"It was a heavy blow for everyone. We still miss him."

One club great that has helped shape De Jong this term is Xavi though, after the ex-Blaugrana star succeeded Koeman. 

"We're both midfielders, roughly in the same position, so in that regard he can teach me a lot," De Jong said. "Every coach has his own details, of course."

Barcelona play Valencia this weekend in LaLiga, as they look to solidify their hold on fourth-place ahead of champions Atletico Madrid.

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