Frenkie de Jong Suspension Adds to Koeman’s Problems at Barcelona

Frenkie de Jong


Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong will miss Sunday’s La Liga clash against Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou after picking up a one-match ban for yellow card accumulation against Levante on Tuesday.

The Netherlands international was handed his fifth booking of the season in the 78th minute for a foul on Mickaël Malsa. De Jong has been walking a disciplinary tightrope since February 7 when he was booked against Real Betis but will now be forced on to the sidelines.

De Jong’s absence will be a blow as the midfielder has been a vital presence in the Barcelona starting XI in his second season at the Camp Nou. The 23-year-old has been an ever present in La Liga in 2020-21, scoring three goals and contributing four assists.

The midfielder was not the only player at risk of suspension against Levante. Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, and Oscar Mingueza were all one game away from a ban but emerged unscathed from Tuesday’s match.

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Barca Throw Away Three Points

De Jong’s suspension came on a miserable night for Barcelona at Levante, as the visitors threw away victory. Goals from Lionel Messi and Pedri put Barca 2-0 up in the first half but Levante hit back after the break to make it 2-2.

Ousmane Dembele appeared to have won it for Barca with a fine strike on 64 minutes, but Sergio León flicked home another equalizer with seven minutes of normal time remaining to grab a point.

The result puts a massive dent in Barca’s hopes of winning La Liga. A victory would have sent Ronald Koeman’s side top of the table with two games left to play, but the draw means the team remains one point behind Atletico who play Real Sociedad on Wednesday.

Celta Next Up For Barca

Barca return to action on Sunday against Celta with Koeman needing to replace De Jong in his starting XI. The Dutchman does have plenty of options when it comes to his midfield.

Youngster Ilaix Moriba could get the nod after featuring regularly in recent months, while Miralem Pjanic, Sergi Roberto, and Riqui Puig are also options for the Barcelona coach.

Koeman will need to get his team selection right with the Dutchman coming under pressure after seeing his team’s title hopes start to slip away. Tuesday’s match was the third time Barca has missed the chance to top the table during the run-in and dropped points in a crucial game.

The 58-year-old is contracted to the club until 2022 but there’s no guarantee he will stay on. According to  Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden at ESPN, the Barcelona board is already doubting whether the Dutchman is still the right man for the job.

Koeman spoke about his future ahead of the match at a news conference and insisted he was confident he would still be in charge next season but did admit he would speak to president Joan Laporta at the end of the campaign to discuss the future.

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