Barcelona coach Xavi refused to rule out exits for Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the eve of their LaLiga opener, acknowledging “anything can happen”.
Manchester United’s interest in De Jong has developed into one of the longest-running sagas of the transfer window, while Chelsea have been heavily linked with both the Dutch midfielder and Barca striker Aubameyang.
Although Xavi and president Joan Laporta have expressed confidence that Barca will overcome their financial difficulties and register a number of new signings ahead of Saturday’s game against Rayo Vallecano, they are looking to offload players and cut wage costs.
While Xavi still regards both men as key players, he has made it clear they could leave before the transfer window closes.
“A lot can happen between now and August 31, but I like Aubameyang a lot,” Xavi told a press conference on Friday.
“He helped us a lot, he’s an important player for me, he came here with great humility, good work ethic, so we’ll see what happens.”
On De Jong’s future, the Blaugrana boss added: “It’s the same as Aubameyang, he’s an important player and he’s part of the team.
“If I can use it, great. Between now and the 31st, we’ll see what the options are and where we are with our market participation.”
“Anything can happen between now and August 31 with Frenkie and any player on the team.
Reports suggest tensions are high between De Jong and the club after he appeared to be jeered by a group of fans when he arrived for training earlier this week.
But Xavi denies having any ill feelings towards De Jong, who joined from Ajax in 2019 for a fee of €75m.
“I didn’t hear boos, I heard applause,” claimed Xavi. “People are able to express how and when they want, I’m here to try to improve the team and create a cohesive unit.
“It depends on how you play on the pitch, if you are supported or booed. I think Frenkie can help the team very well, he has helped the club and I have no complaints.”
One player who is set to leave Barcelona is young midfielder Nico Gonzalez, who announced on Wednesday that he will join Valencia on a season-long loan.
Nico made 37 appearances for Barca last season – albeit just 17 starts – and Xavi revealed the 20-year-old has asked to leave.
“He came to me three weeks ago. I insisted that he continue because he would have minutes. I like Nico,” said Xavi. “But he came back a few days ago and told me that there is a team where he will play.
“He was brave and he is going to Valencia. I hope he comes back more mature because it will be important for the future of Barca.”
“In midfield we have Busquets, [Miralem] Pjanic, [Franck] Kessie, Frenkie, Sergi Roberto and even [Andreas] Christensen who can play there.”