If recent reports from Spain are to be believed, Xavi intends to indefinitely start Frenkie De Jong against Inter Milan in the upcoming UEFA Champions League clash on Wednesday.
Primarily, the base position where Frenkie De Jong would normally be expected to slot into the team would be in a 3-man midfield comprising him and any two of Gavi, Pedri, and Sergio Busquets. A commonly used pairing has been that of De Jong with the latter two that was deployed and seen on multiple occasions under Xavi before the player’s untimely break from the pitch occurred.
This trio has provided some resounding performances during their time together. Particular ones that immediately spring to mind are the 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, the 4-2 win over Napoli in the UEFA Europa League, as well as the 4-2 win against Atletico Madrid last season. The trio has shown that on the right day and given the right tactical setup, they can surely brighten La Blaugrana’s horizons.
Another series of reports have suggested that Xavi may even end up going with a 4 midfielder formation against Inter on Wednesday. This would mean deploying Frenkie De Jong alongside all three of Gavi, Sergio Busquets, and Pedri. Normally Busquets would definitely occupy one of the two central midfield spots, leaving De Jong to be eligible for either the partnering central spot or on either of the wings of the midfield.
In terms of the former, De Jong’s ability to progress the ball from in between opponent lines and link together continuous strings of passes can prove to be vital. On the contrary, his intelligence and dribbling qualities would also be very beneficial should he play on a flanking role behind an offensive winger, being able to provide creativity should the winger be suppressed as well as defensive cover should the said winger be completely nullified and dispossessed.
Although this next assumption as to where De Jong may potentially be played may sound unorthodox, it has in fact been tried and tested by Xavi in official games before as well as noted during his press conferences. The assumption in question would be the starting position of De Jong at Centre-back.
If paired with reports suggesting all 4 midfielders will be in the starting eleven come Wednesday are to be linked here, it would mean Xavi could still opt for a 4-3-3 system in which Gavi, Pedri, and Busquets complete the midfield, and De Jong starts as a Centre-Back alongside either Gerard Pique or Eric Garcia.
The final possibility as to where the Dutchman could be placed is quite easily the most unconventional one, and that would be to start Frenkie De Jong at right-back. Quite possibly Barcelona’s weakest position in terms of available quality right now, there may exist a possibility that Xavi does end up going for this extreme decision just to reinforce the right-back position with a versatile player that may just provide that superior qualitative edge to Sergi Roberto, as well as make Balde eligible to play on the left- back position instead.
Alas, despite speculations and reports, it rests with Xavi himself to make the decision on this absolutely crucial upcoming fixture, and all power lies with the manager getting it right for the night. Here’s to hoping he does. Vamos Barca.