Xavi prepares De Jong’s replacement for Barcelona vs Napoli

Date:

Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi smiles on the sidelines prior the Spanish league football match between RC Celta de Vigo and FC Barcelona at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo on February 17, 2024.
Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

It is true that FC Barcelona head into their contest against Napoli with a massively depleted squad. The Catalan giants have suffered some previously unimaginable injury blows, with two of them towards their best midfielders. However, against Napoli, Xavi’s Barcelona will thus need a plan.

Both Frenkie De Jong and Pedri will be unavailable, as the Dutchman and Spaniard continue their recovery. At the moment, their returns are not expected anytime soon and Barça will be unable to count on them for quite some time. Instead, alternatives are already being studied by Barcelona.

According to SPORT, there is a direct replacement for De Jong already prepared in the mind of Xavi. Especially for the game against Napoli, the Barcelona coach believes the solution to be Sergi Roberto. The Spanish midfielder has been out due to injury for some time, and the Barça coach believes he could be key against the side from Naples.

Now fully recovered and given the green light, Roberto works towards his re-emergence. In training, as per SPORT, the 32-year-old continues to work with drills and exercises that De Jong is mostly familiar with. The goal behind this is to have him become that direct replacement for the Dutchman against Napoli.

However, given his lack of recent playing time, his spot as a starter is not really guaranteed. Xavi could look to perhaps use him as a substitute in the second half of the game, or even keep him ready in case a hypothetical extra-time scenario arises given that it is a cup competition in the UEFA Champions League.

Other options like Fermin Lopez, Oriol Romeu, and even Raphinha are still available. The Brazilian survived an injury scare against Mallorca last time out, but he should be good to go. With Ilkay Gundogan and Andreas Christensen almost guaranteed in the midfield, Barcelona have just one spot left to fill out before they take on Napoli.

Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun is a life-long fan of FC Barcelona and an avid enjoyer of all things Blaugrana. Having fallen in love with the club for the way they defined football for him, he now spends his time watching games, analyzing the happenings in them, and digesting any and everything related to his beloved Catalan club. He also writes as an author for Barca News Network hoping to deliver the latest updates to his fellow ‘culés’.

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