Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has provided an insight into the club's plans for transfer-linked midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
De Jong, of course, has endured something of a hit-and-miss campaign to date.
Amid a remarkably inconsistent term on the part of Barca's squad as a whole, the gifted midfielder has often found himself singled out as something of a scapegoat, amid suggestions that de Jong too often simply allows the game to pass him by.
And such qualms on the part of the Catalan giants' fanbase, in turn, have culminated in inevitable speculation regarding a potential parting of ways between Barcelona and the club's big-money 2019 arrival come the summer.
Manchester United, for one, have been hotly tipped as a potential landing spot for the 24-year-old, a move which would of course see him reunite with the incoming Erik ten Hag.
Speaking in a press conference on Saturday, it therefore came as little surprise when the subject of de Jong's future was put to his current boss.
Xavi, though, was quick to halt any such speculation surrounding his midfield star in its tracks, assuring that de Jong represents 'the present and the future' of Barcelona:
"He has to be a player that makes the difference and he does," the Spaniard began.
"There aren't many players with his quality in the world. He's the present and the future [at Barca]. He is a very important player for me. He's capable, strong, he gets into the box... He has had some excellent games, but he has to be consistent.
Xavi also went on to provide an insight into a personal discussion held between he and de Jong earlier this week, after the Dutch international was left looking visibly frustrated with being hauled off early in a La Liga meeting with Rayo Vallecano:
"We had a face-to-face chat this week and it went well. Obviously being taken off is frustrating for him, but I have to look out for the team."
Mallorca next up
Turning attentions back towards matters on the pitch, Barca will of course be back in action in just shy of 24 hours' time.
On the back of an alarming stretch of three defeats in four, including a 1-0 home loss at the hands of the aforementioned Rayo Vallecano last weekend, the Blaugrana will be hopeful of a return to winning ways when they welcome relegation-battling RCD Mallorca to Catalunya on Sunday night.
Their recent dip in form means that Xavi's troops could head into the clash sitting as low as 4th in the La Liga table, if Atletico Madrid can get the better of Athletic Club this evening.
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