It’s a new day in Barcelona. Another crisis averted. Opportunities abound.
With 700 million euros expected to be heading the club’s way soon, the president looks to have pulled off a move to give his club a new lease of life.
But let’s be clear, it comes at a price. Selling off so much of your merchandising and TV rights will have consequences down the line if Joan Laporta can’t make Barcelona one of the greats again, and soon.
This is a short-term gamble that most people will agree was necessary. In effect, Barcelona is putting down their reputation as collateral, and hoping the people in charge will make all the right moves with the treasure at their disposal.
A lot of names have been thrown around in the rumor mill. Sure, signing Robert Lewandowski would be a flex, providing a killer goalscoring threat.
The backline is in desperate need of upgrades, and redirecting Jules Kounde from London to Barcelona, and pairing him with Ronald Araujo, would be a statement to all of Europe that the new Barcelona is here and it’s prioritizing defense this time.
But Frenkie de Jong is the name on everyone’s mind.
Now that we’ve walked away from another existential financial cliff, what does it mean for the future of the Dutchman?
Xavi and the club have been opaque with their opinions of the player, so let’s try to decode the situation as best we can.
We’re led to believe that Xavi rates Frenkie.
Even though Frenkie’s playing time dropped in the spring with him no longer a shoe-in starter, and being replaced at conspicuous times in important games, the manager assured the public that there was nothing to read into.
With the emergence of Gavi, it was easy to take him at his word.
But the discerning Barcelona observer suspected there was more to the story.
It became clear that Xavi counted on Sergio Busquets above all else, even with the Spaniard in the twilight of his blaugrana career.
It’s no secret that Frenkie never reached the heights that everyone expected of him. It’s also not a secret that the midfield was never built around him the way it has always been for Busquets.
And yet, Frenkie went about his business contributing in whatever way he could. Sure, his performances were not always consistent, but during important stretches, and in big moments, in a variety of roles, he found a way to make an impact.
There’s a reason why his market value continues to be so high. Anyone who knows the game knows that Frenkie is a footballer’s footballer with a big ceiling.
If Barcelona couldn’t make it work, maybe it was their own fault?
With Frenkie in the prime of his career, this is a player who Manchester United want to build their midfield around. This is a player who could, as unbelievable as it may seem, take Manchester City to even greater heights. Can you imagine pairing him with Kevin de Bruyne?
So the question now has nothing to do with money.
The question is for Xavi to answer. Do you want him or not? Do you see him leading your team into the future? Because if he stays, he’s one of your most experienced guys, and probably a captain one day.
Could you be flexible enough to change your formation, using some version of a double pivot, pairing Frenkie with Franck Kessie, and experimenting to see how that compares to a midfield where Busquets plays the role alone?
One thing’s for sure, Barcelona needs a defensive midfield for the future, and there are very few acceptable options out there, to my knowledge, that won’t come at a prohibitive price.
The solution might be right under your nose.
One way or another, there’s nothing to hide behind anymore.
Frenkie wants to stay.
Famous clubs are keen to swoop in.
But what does Xavi really want?
We’re about to see.