Barcelona raised more than a few eyebrows when they signed Luuk de Jong on loan from Sevilla on deadline day 2021 and the striker has spoken out about his time at the Camp Nou and how he believes he’s surprised coach Xavi.
The Dutchman, whose loan move to Barca in the summer from La Liga rivals Sevilla prompted plenty of criticism, spoke to Voetbal Zone about how he is confident he can suit Xavi’s style of play.
“I think Xavi was a bit surprised at how I fit into his game. That I can also be a ‘9’ for him with whom you can make triangles and thus play out under the pressure of an opponent,” he said. “Xavi wants his striker to be a point of contact and to hold balls and combine them with midfielders. He always says: lure the central defenders away to make room for others to dive into the hole.”
De Jong was brought to Barcelona by former coach and compatriot Ronald Koeman but struggled initially, scoring just once in his first nine games for the Catalans before the Dutchman was sacked.
It had been thought De Jong would leave in January following Xavi’s arrival, and his preference for possession-based football, but he’s gone on to score three goals in three games in 2022 to seemingly turn his situation around.
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De Jong Does Not Want to Leave
De Jong also made it clear he does not want to leave Barcelona in the January transfer window and feels he can still play a role for the team, even if he is forced back onto the bench.
“We have been here with the family for half a year, I don’t want to move again now,” he explained. “And yes, even if I were to become a substitute again, I could still be of value. But the club has not yet made an official statement. We’ll see. I am also still owned by Seville. My contract will run for one more year after this season.”
De Jong’s good form in front of goal could mean he returns to the starting XI for Barcelona’s next La Liga game on Sunday, January 23 at Alaves. The 31-year-old missed the trip to Athletic in the Copa del Rey due to suspension.
Will Barca Make More Signings?
De Jong’s improved form in 2022 and the loss of teenage striker Ansu Fati to another injury could also see the Dutchman see out his season-long loan at the Camp Nou. Fati has suffered a relapse of a thigh problem and the club is currently deciding whether he needs to undergo surgery.
However, Xavi is keen to bring in two new players to reinforce the attack, as reported by Diario Sport. The coach is hoping for a goalscoring center-forward and a full-back who can play on either flank.
The coach spoke about transfers once again at his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Alaves but admitted the club’s financial situation still makes it difficult to sign players.
“We are working on it, in various areas of the pitch. We have spoken about it with the entire staff and the board. I was very clear with what I think the team needs and we are working hard to bring some players in,” he said. “But what we want and what we can get, there’s some distance. So, let’s see, there are still a few days left and the salary cap and the registering of the players. We are going to try, we will try to bring some players in.”
Barcelona have already brought in Ferran Torres from Manchester City to strengthen the attack and have until the end of the month to add to the squad. However, they must offload players first to free up space on the wage bill before adding any more new players.