‘It’s a wake-up call’ – Ancelotti says empty-handed Real Madrid played like they were on vacation
Xavi has suggested Luuk de Jong could stay at Barcelona beyond the January transfer window after sacking his side with “three gold points” against Real Mallorca.
De Jong’s loan to Sevilla was due to be terminated this month before the forward joins La Liga Cadiz squad for the remainder of the season.
However, the Netherlands international was requested against Mallorca when Barca returned on Sunday due to a spate of COVID-19 cases at the Blaugrana camp.
After touching the woodwork twice, De Jong scored his second league goal of the campaign in the 44th minute to seal a 1-0 win for Barca at Palma.
In doing so, he became the first Barca player other than Lionel Messi to reach goal frame twice in a single LaLiga game since August 2019.
And while Xavi is still waiting for the other players to get back into shape, the newly appointed coach has hinted that De Jong may still stay at Camp Nou for the remainder of 2021-2022.
“He’s a professional example,” Xavi said in his post-match press conference. “They say he can go out, but he works, he sacrifices himself. He’s a hell of a pro.
“I’m happy with him. Of course, I envision him staying because today he was useful to us. He is an example for everyone.
“Depending on how you train, you’ll play. We’ll see the future. We’ll see if there are exits and entrances. But these are all assumptions.”
De Jong has scored eight header goals in all competitions since the 2019-20 season, a record surpassed only by Karim Benzema (13), Ante Budimir (11) and Youssef En-Nesyri (nine) among LaLiga players in all competitions confused.
It was also Barca’s seventh goal in La Liga this season, which is the most of any team and the same number they managed in 38 league appearances last time around.
That moment of victory helped Barca secure a second victory in six games in all competitions as they moved up to fifth in La Liga and one point behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.
Xavi was pleased with the fighting spirit he displayed at his side, although the victory would not have been possible without an impressive save from Marc-André ter Stegen to prevent Juame Costa in stoppage time.
“There are three golden points,” he said. “The way we played and the circumstances in which we played, it was a family victory. We showed that we know how to suffer.
“We had a very good first half and showed a lot of personality. We are on the right track.
“We wanted the game to be suspended but I’m proud of the team and proud of Marc. We needed him. He saved a goal at the end and saved us.
“But the young people of the team are also helping us a lot. They have the right mentality and are well prepared. These three points put us in the fight for the top positions.”
Riqui Puig was one of many youngsters on display for Barca, with the academy product making its historic 50th appearance for the club in all competitions.
He made 66 of his 69 passes for a 96% accuracy that no other Barcelona player could match that day.
“Riqui was very good,” Xavi said. “Like the others, like [Oscar] Mingueza and [Ferran] Jutgla. They all worked hard for the team and it’s exciting for us.
“This is the way forward and this victory is one example.”
Dani Alves and Jordi Alba missed Sunday’s victory after testing positive for the coronavirus, but the pair have since returned negative tests and been given the green light to resume training from Monday.