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Xavi has suggested that Luuk de Jong could stay in Barcelona beyond the January transfer window after firing his team to “three golden points” against Real Mallorca.
De Jong’s loan from Sevilla was expected to be terminated this month ahead of the striker who joined the LaLiga team Cadiz for the rest of the season.
However, the Dutch national team player was required against Mallorca when Barca returned to action on Sunday due to a wave of COVID-19 cases in the Blaugrana camp.
After hitting the woodwork twice, De Jong headed his second league goal of the campaign in the 44th minute to secure a 1-0 victory for Barca in Palma.
Thus, he became the first Barca player apart from Lionel Messi to hit the frame of the goal twice in a single LaLiga match since August 2019.
And while Xavi is still waiting for other players to return to fitness, the newly appointed coach suggested that De Jong can still stay at the Camp Nou for the remainder of 2021-22.
“He’s an example of a professional,” Xavi said at his post-match press conference. ‘It is said that he can go out, but he works, he sacrifices himself. He’s a hell of a professional.
“I love him. Of course I’re considering him to stay, because today he’s been helpful to us. He’s an example to everyone.
“Depending on how you train, you will play. We will see the future. We will see if there are exits and entrances. But they are all hypotheses. “
De Jong has scored eight main goals in all tournaments since the 2019-20 season, a record only surpassed by Karim Benzema (13), Ante Budimir (11) and Youssef En-Nesyri (nine) among LaLiga players in all tournaments.
It was also Barca’s seventh major goal in the LaLiga this season, which is the most of all teams and the same number they reached in 38 league games last time.
The match-winning moment helped Barca to just another victory in six matches across all tournaments as they moved up to fifth place in LaLiga and within a point of fourth-place Atletico Madrid.
Xavi was pleased with the fighting spirit on his part, although the victory would not have been possible if not for an impressive save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen to refuse Juame Costa in the break.
“There are three golden points,” he said. “The way we played and the circumstances we played under, this is a family victory. We have shown that we know how to suffer.
“We had a very good first half and showed lots of personality. We are on our way up.
“We wanted the match to be suspended, but I’m proud of the team and proud of Marc. We needed him. He stopped a goal in the end and saved us.
“But the young people in the side also help us a lot. They have the right mentality and are well prepared. These three points put us in the fight for the top positions.”
Milestone for @RiquiPuig!
Today was his 50th Barça appearance in all tournaments!
Congratulations, Riqui! pic.twitter.com/2jTvpaVKV3
FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 2, 2022
Riqui Puig was one of the many youngsters on display for Barca, the academy product that made his landmark 50th appearance for the club in all tournaments.
He completed 66 of his 69 passes for a pass accuracy of 96 percent that no other Barcelona player could match on the day.
“Riqui was very good,” Xavi said. “As the others were, e.g. [Oscar] Mingueza and [Ferran] Jutgla. They have all worked hard for the team and it is exciting for us.
“This is the way forward and this victory is an example of that.”
Dani Alves and Jordi Alba missed Sunday’s victory after testing positive for coronavirus, but the pair have since returned negative tests and have been given the green light to return to training from Monday.