Without Frenkie de Jong, who will be out for around seven weeks and will miss El Clásico, the big question is who will play in the Dutchman’s position in Mallorca on Tuesday.
“There are many players to replace him and we hope we won’t suffer from his absence. It is a big loss for us because of the way we play and because of the way he has been playing since last season, at an exceptional level,” explained Xavi in a press conference.
This season Xavi has a more competitive and versatile squad. Most of the first-team squad can play in more than one position. “We don’t have a very big squad but we have a lot of players who can play in many positions. Sergi Roberto, Cancelo, Ferran, Rafa, Joao Félix, Ronald Araújo… versatile players who are very good for the team,” he continued.
As reported by Relevo, Oriol Romeu will play versus Mallorca at Son Moix, but the question is over who will play alongside him at the base of midfield. Xavi knows that the absence of De Jong conditions the way he will play due to the specific characteristics of the Dutch international, but he is also aware that he has several players to play in that role. Gavi and Ilkay Gündogan are the main alternatives for the clash with Javier Aguirre’s Mallorca.
He added: “We know what Gavi is capable of. He is very complete. He is excellent both in defence and attack and he is vital for the team. He adds goals and assists to the team. I’m happy for him.”
Gavi the favourite to replace De Jong
Gavi is the main candidate to replace De Jong at the base, alongside Romeu. The Spain international has already played several times in that area of the pitch, although not with former Girona man Romeu. Against Antwerp in the Champions League, Xavi rested the former Southampton player and it was Gavi and De Jong who played in the role.
Kieran Quaile | GSFN