Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong is potentially facing six weeks out injured after coming off just 36 minutes into Saturday’s win over Celta Vigo, making him a doubt to face Real Madrid next month.
Barca secured De Jong’s €75m arrival from Ajax in January 2019, midway through his incredible journey to the Champions League semi-finals with the Amsterdam giants – he made the switch to Spain at the end of that season.
But with financial problems drastically hampering the Catalans, De Jong was later considered expendable to raise cash and Barca even agreed a deal to sell him to Manchester United last summer. It was only issues surrounding unpaid wages that caused the deal to collapse. The player himself also always publicly maintained he wanted to stay at Camp Nou.
After a slow start to last season following the transfer saga, De Jong re-established himself as a key player in Xavi’s team that eventually claimed a first La Liga title in four years. He has remained a starter so far in 2023/24, although a worrying ankle injury prematurely ended his game before half-time as Barca beat Celta in La Liga.
SPORT has reported more assessment is required, but early indications point to De Jong being ruled out until November as a result. At the very least, he is expected to remain sidelined until after the October international break in the middle of next month.
Barcelona’s own statement on the matter read: “Tests carried out on the first team player Frenkie de Jong show that he has an injury to the tibiofibular syndesmosis in his right ankle. He is unavailable for selection and his recovery will dictate his return.”
Frenkie de Jong came off early against Celta Vigo / Soccrates Images/GettyImages
Barcelona have games against Mallorca, Sevilla and Granada in La Liga, as well as Porto in the Champions League, before the international break. Should De Jong be out until November as feared, he is a significant doubt for the first Clasico of the season against Real Madrid on 28 October.
Short-term injury aside, De Jong’s future at Barca appears to be in a much stronger place than it was only a year ago. 90min reported in June that Bayern Munich had enquired about the player, while Manchester United and Erik ten Hag also retain their longstanding interest.
But new Barcelona sporting director Deco seems to have ideas other than selling when he was quizzed by reporters about a new contract for De Jong prior to the Celta game.
“He still has two years left on his contract after this one. We’ll see [about a new one]. He’s the future of the club. We want him to stay with us for many years,” Deco said.
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