Xavi had 'no doubt' over De Jong's commitment to Barca amid Man Utd speculation

By Sports Desk February 15, 2023

Xavi never doubted Frenkie de Jong's commitment to Barcelona amid speculation linking the midfielder with a move to Manchester United last year.

United identified De Jong, who came through at Ajax under Erik ten Hag, as a priority target ahead of their new manager's first season in charge.

A move never materialised, with United instead buying Casemiro from Real Madrid.

Casemiro has gone on to solidify himself as one of the most impressive midfielders in the Premier League, but ahead of Thursday's Europa League encounter between United and Barca, Xavi said De Jong never wanted to leave the Blaugrana.

"I think he was really clear to me: he wanted to stay with us. So there was no doubt," Xavi said at a press conference.

"Now he's our player, I’m really happy and satisfied with his performances, his leadership. He's in a very good moment, like all the team.

"I think Frenkie is enjoying on the pitch and this is the most important thing."

De Jong has played 26 games for Barca this season, starting 20 and scoring twice.

Xavi's version of events tallies with reports from the time that suggested Barca were attempting to push the midfielder towards a transfer, rather than the other way around, in order to ease their financial issues.

Thursday's encounter with United at Camp Nou has been overshadowed by allegations of Barca having paid €1.4million to a company part-owned by former LaLiga referee Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira between 2016 and 2018.

Barca president Joan Laporta vowed to "defend the honour and interests of Barcelona", saying it was "no coincidence" the allegations had come out with the Blaugrana sitting 11 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga.

Related items

  • Aldershot miss out on play-off place after draw at Dagenham Aldershot miss out on play-off place after draw at Dagenham

    Aldershot rescued a point in a 3-3 draw at Dagenham but missed out on a National League play-off spot.

    Daggers striker Inih Effiong opened the scoring in the 34th minute, slamming home his 16th league goal of the season from Josh Hare’s cutback.

    Aldershot were awarded a penalty at the start of the second half when Elliott Johnson brought down Kwame Thomas.

    The Shots forward looked to be in an offside position and both managers were booked as tempers flared, but Cian Harries kept his cool to convert the spot-kick.

    Dagenham boss Ben Strevens was then shown a red card before Lorent Tolaj headed the visitors in front in the 72nd minute.

    Ryan Hill finished off a swift counter-attack to pull the home side level with eight minutes left and after Effiong was denied by the woodwork, the Daggers thought they had won it through Dion Pereira’s strike.

    There was still time for Aldershot to level, though, as Josh Barrett found the top corner with a free-kick.

  • Ollie Banks fires late winner for NL Champions Chesterfield against Maidenhead Ollie Banks fires late winner for NL Champions Chesterfield against Maidenhead

    Ollie Banks scored a late winner as champions Chesterfield ended their time in the National League with a 3-2 victory over Maidenhead in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,108 at the SMH Group Stadium.

    The Spireites, having lost four consecutive games since sealing promotion back to the English Football League last month, were 2-0 ahead after half an hour.

    Joe Quigley’s fine work helped Liam Mandeville poke in from close range in the 28th minute before the forward got on the scoresheet himself shortly after, firing home after a goal-mouth scramble.

    However, Maidenhead came out firing after the interval and were level courtesy of two goals in three minutes, with Tristan Abrahams slotting into an empty net after Harry Tyrer parried Reece Smith’s shot and then Kevin Lokko heading in.

    But after Tom Naylor had a goal disallowed and Armando Dobra hit the post, Chesterfield finally found a winner at the death when Banks hammered in.

  • Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy goals secure vital Leicester win over West Brom Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy goals secure vital Leicester win over West Brom

    Leicester returned to the top of the Championship with a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion and two more victories from their remaining three games would secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

    Enzo Maresca’s side could go up on Tuesday if they beat Southampton at the King Power Stadium.

    Jamie Vardy’s 15th league goal of the season effectively sealed the victory and made up for him missing a penalty in the first half.

    Leicester took the lead through Wilfred Ndidi in the 22nd minute after Albion had dominated the early stages and missed a string of chances to take the lead.

    West Brom manager Carlos Corberan will wonder how his side managed to squander so many oppportunities to score, and their second successive defeat means their play-off place is by no means certain.

    They did eventually find the net through their captain, Jed Wallace, with 14 minutes left, but could not force an equaliser.

    Leicester’s win owes much to central midfielder Hamza Choudhury who made three goal-line clearances – two of them coming within seconds of one another.

    But with both teams recording a combined total of almost 30 shots, the game was partly a tale of the opportunities that were squandered.

    West Brom could have had the match won inside the first 20 minutes. With Maresca’s team playing out from the back, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall passed the ball straight to Okay Yukuslu, but he put his hurried shot over the bar.

    Mikey Johnston was then involved on three occasions, seeing an effort cleared off the line after 14 minutes. He then had a shot saved by Leicester keeper Mads Hermansen before putting another chance over the bar.

    Leicester made Albion pay for their wastefulness in front of goal by taking the lead. Stephy Mavididi pulled the ball back for defender Wout Faes who crossed for Vardy. His header was kept out by Albion goalkeeper Alex Palmer but Ndidi converted the rebound from close range.

    Maresca’s side looked set to take a two-goal advantage into the break. Vardy ran on to a long ball from Hermansen a minute before half-time and was pushed over by West Brom defender Conor Townsend in the 18 yard box. Vardy had scored four penalties from four this season, but he hit the post from his fifth spot kick of the campaign.

    Choudhury then cleared off the line twice in the space of a few seconds after 51 minutes. First, he blocked a shot from Yann M’Vila and then denied Grady Diangana. The drama continued as, from the resulting corner, Kyle Bartley headed against the bar with Diangana unable to get the vital touch from close range.

    Again, Albion were punished for missing their chances as Vardy increased Leicester’s lead after 65 minutes. Choudhury found Abdul Fatawu on the right and his cross was met by Vardy who headed in from close range.

    West Brom finally found the net when defender Cedric Kipre’s inch-perfect pass found Wallace who slid the ball past Hermansen.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.