The Netherlands international had a spell as a defender during pre-season and Barca manager Xavi Hernandez has stated that this might continue.
Speaking to the press (via Mirror) ahead of Barcelona’s clash against Celta Vigo, he discussed Frenkie de Jong and a potential defensive role for the midfielder:
“Frenkie can play as a central defender – that is something that we tried in pre-season and it worked very well. He is a potent player, who is really fast. But we have other alternatives in that position as well.
“We are very lucky that we have many multi skilled players who are capable of playing in different positions. But Frenkie is an option there.”
Frenkie de Jong has fallen down the pecking order in Barcelona’s midfield. Players like Gavi, Pedri, and Franck Kessie have enjoyed more minutes than De Jong, who was widely expected to leave Camp Nou for Old Trafford in the summer. Notably, Manchester United made the Dutchman their main transfer target during the transfer window but were unable to convince him to leave Barca.
He may now be saddled with a defensive role due to injuries and fitness issues in the Blaugrana’s backline. The club’s usual options in central defense, including Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo, are struggling with injury, which has led Xavi to contemplate playing De Jong in defense.
Barcelona continue struggling with injury crises
The international break has seen the Catalan giants struggle with unexpected fitness issues, with a number of first-team players getting injured. With a barrage of games set to be played in October, alongside a looming El Clasico game that could well decide the La Liga title, injuries are certainly a cause for concern.
According to BarcaUniversal, De Jong picked up a muscle string while on international duty. Jules Koune’s hamstring was injured during an international match as well, while Franck Kessie suffered a thigh injury against Milan recently. Another player with a thigh injury is Memphis Depay, who is yet to return from the sidelines, although he has started outdoor training.