Xavi hails Barcelona star he was predicted to dump in January.
Barcelona head coach Xavi admits that he was unhappy with the outcome of Saturday’s 1-1 Primera Division draws with Granada but reserved praise for one player he was expected to jettison in January.
Luuk de Jong scored for the Catalan side in the second half to give them the edge, yet a red card for Gavi paved the way for a late equalizer from Antonio Puertas.
The draw means that Barca missed the opportunity to jump into the top four of the Primera Division, with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Villarreal and Valencia not in action until later in the weekend.
For De Jong, though, it was something of a personal triumph. The former Newcastle and Sevilla striker had expected to be offloaded by Barcelona in January, with critics suggesting that his style is the precise antithesis of the tiki-taka style that Xavi is attempting to restore to the Camp Nou side.
While the head coach seemed to suggest that De Jong’s future remains unclear, with Barca aiming to register Ferran Torres when he overcomes Covid, the icon did, nevertheless, reserve some praise for his striker on a day of frustration.
“Luuk is part of the squad, we have to see what happens to balance the salary limit to register Ferran, but Luuk has helped us a lot. I’m very happy for Luuk, but pissed off with the result,” Xavi admitted.
Dembele withdrawn for Sanz:
Barca, who mustered only a single shot on target over the course of the match brought the inexperienced Alvaro Sanz on for Ousmane Dembele is in the closing stages.
Xavi, who was unhappy with the ball retention of his team, justified bringing the 20-year-old, who had only played once in La Liga previously, by stating:
“It’s a risk we took consciously, but we had to control the game. Alvaro doesn’t lose balls and we needed him.”
Barca will now prepare for a Supercopa semi-final against Real Madrid on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia.
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