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Xavi refuses to rule out Frenkie de Jong exit amid Manchester United links

Xavi refuses to rule out De Jong exit amid Man United links
© Reuters
Barcelona manager Xavi refuses to rule out a summer exit for midfielder Frenkie de Jong amid links with an Erik ten Hag reunion at Manchester United.

Barcelona manager Xavi has refused to rule out the possibility of Manchester United-linked midfielder Frenkie de Jong leaving the club.

Despite the emergence of teenage starlets Pedri and Gavi, De Jong has remained an integral part of Barcelona's engine room since Xavi took the reins from Ronald Koeman.

The Netherlands international has pulled on the Catalan jersey 46 times in all tournaments throughout the 2021-22 campaign, scoring four goals and setting up five more.

De Jong has also made the starting lineup on 29 occasions in La Liga, although he was absent from last weekend's draw with Getafe due to suspension.

The 25-year-old is under contract at Camp Nou until the summer of 2026, but his future has been called into question amid suggestions that he is on Man United's radar.

Barcelona coach Xavi during the match on April 18, 2022© Reuters

Erik ten Hag - who oversaw De Jong's development at Ajax and helped him reach the Champions League semi-finals - is poised to begin his work at Old Trafford in the coming days.

When asked about the prospect of De Jong leaving for Man United, Xavi remained tight-lipped on the transfer rumours but has admitted that the "economic situation" of the club could come into play.

"For me, Frenkie is a great player, he's a beast – I like him and I think he can be part of an important era of the club. We will see the economic situation of the club... but I like De Jong," Xavi told reporters during a press conference.

It has been suggested that De Jong could be sold in order to raise funds for Robert Lewandowski, who will not be extending his Bayern Munich contract beyond the summer of 2023.

Barca president Joan Laporta has also been questioned on the topic of the midfielder's future, and the Catalan chief simply responded that he will do "what is best for the club".

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong pictured in October 2021© Reuters

"We will do what is best for the club. If the economic levers that we want to activate come off, no player will leave for economic reasons," Laporta told Catalunya Radio.

"I insist. Let the sports management work. There are players who are quoted to have received offers. In the sports area, Xavi and Mateu Alemany rule and he ends up deciding the club's sports management. I will follow what the professionals of the club say."

De Jong has amassed 13 goals and 17 assists from 139 outings for Barcelona so far, but he only has one Copa del Rey to show for his three years at the club.

The Dutchman's contract situation means that Barcelona can afford to drive a hard bargain, and Man United are reportedly not prepared to break the bank to sign Ten Hag's former protege.

Barcelona head into their final-day La Liga clash with Villarreal guaranteed to finish second, while Man United aim to clinch sixth place in the Premier League against Crystal Palace with Ten Hag watching on from the stands.

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Robert Lewandowski in action for Bayern Munich in February 2022
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