Xavi Delivers His Verdict on Frenkie de Jong & Coutinho

Xavi Hernandez

Getty Xavi Hernandez speaks at a press conference ahead of Barca vs Espanyol.

Barcelona coach Xavi has offered his thoughts on Frenkie de Jong and Philippe Coutinho ahead of his first game in charge of the Catalan giants on Saturday, November 20 against Espanyol in La Liga.

There has been recent speculation that Barca could be tempted to sell De Jong in the summer as he’s one of the club’s biggest assets and his departure could help ease some of the club’s financial problems.

Xavi did not speak about the midfielder’s future but made it clear just how important the Netherlands international needs to be to the team at his pre-match press conference.

“Frenkie has to be really important for us, absolutely, he has to make the difference,” he said. “He has to score goals, he has to be important in attack and defense. He can help us at many points and he has to make a difference.”

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Xavi Backing Coutinho?

Xavi also spoke about Philippe Coutinho who has regularly been linked with a Camp Nou exit after struggling to impress at the Camp Nou following his move from Liverpool in January 2018.

The new coach made it clear he does have faith in the Brazil international and will offer opportunities for the 29-year-old to stake a claim for a regular spot in his starting XI at the Camp Nou.

“Coutinho is someone who can play in various positions and he can be important for the team,” he said. “He needs to re-find himself and recover his confidence. If he does, he will help us a lot. He has an innate talent. It depends on him. He will get chances because he’s a player I like personally. It’s more psychological than anything because he has talent.

Coutinho has only made four starts for Barcelona this season, and it remains to be seen if he will get the nod on Saturday against Espanyol.

Xavi Ready For First Test

Indeed Xavi’s teamsheet for Saturday’s match will make for fascinating reading, particularly as the new coach is without a host of injured players including Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Sergio Aguero, and Martin Braithwaite.

The absentees mean more Barca youngsters could be handed the chance to impress, and Xavi has not ruled out making a few surprise selections for the derby.

“We have to train after this press conference. I still don’t know which players will play but my feelings are good ones with the youngsters. The ones who were already there and those who have been promoted,” he said. “Ansu, Dembele, Martin, and Kun are out of the squad list so we will have to count on the youngsters. But they are prepared, we have seen it at Barca B, we have seen it last Saturday. Of course there could be some surprises but I haven’t decided yet my starting XI.”

One player who looks to be in contention is 19-year-old winger Ez Abde. The teenager made his debut off the bench in the 1-1 draw against Alves and could make his first start for the Catalans on Saturday.

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