The midfielder is struggling for consistency but the club insist he's not for sale
There was a significant moment involving Frenkie de Jong in the second half of Barcelona's defeat to Rayo Vallecano. Angry with himself, the referee and/or with Xavi Hernandez, he was taken off in the 60th minute and was visibly fuming.
The dutch midfielder produced a poor performance and went to the dressing room without acknowledging his coach, although he did return to take his seat on the bench afterwards. The No.21, who had removed some of the doubts over his head recently, was once again the centre of attention for his performances.
Since he moved to Camp Nou in 2019, De Jong gas been a contextual footballer. When things go well, he has been one of the leaders. When results have dropped, he has struggled to step forward and turn games in Barça's favour. It's happened with Valverde, Setien, Koeman and Xavi.
His quality is unquestionable, as is his competitiveness (as seen in his reaction at the weekend). It's also undeniable that Barça fans have enjoyed some fine performances from him, but they have not seen his magnificent 2018-19 Ajax form enough.
Even though one of the conclusions Xavi's coaching staff drew from the Eintracht Frankfurt defeat was the loss of De Jong from the starting lineup due to illness -- the coach considers him vital to the team -- his contribution since has not been as expected.
Against Cadiz and Rayo, he did not play as expected. Against Rayo, he lost the ball seven times, twice in dangerous areas. In neither of the games has he really managed to get into the opposition box.
Barça, despite the return of his 'ghosts' and the interest from Manchester United, aren't considering selling him this summer.
"We're not going to sell him, he's a player valued highly inside the club," sporting advisor Jordi Cruyff said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, De Jong has always made it clear, when questioned, that his desire to succeed at Camp Nou remains intact.
Topics with the letter