“I was calm. I decided in May that I wanted to stay [at Barcelona],” explained Frenkie de Jong to Ziggo Sport when asked about his public refusal to join Manchester United over the summer.
“My opinion has never changed during this entire period. I stayed calm.
“But then you know the pressure would start to come… Yes, from the newspapers, from the president, exactly.
“From everywhere actually. But I wanted to stay at Barca so it [the pressure] never baffled me.”
Acknowledging his regular role on the bench this season, the Dutch midfielder added: “I want to be a starter again. Against Bayern [Munich], I was not a starter and I hope to be against Real Madrid.
“Maybe he [Xavi] has already decided [his team], but normally we don’t know until the day of the game.”
De Jong has made 10 appearances across competitions but a majority of those were off the bench.
Xavi appears to prefer playing Gavi, 17, as a starter and Barca are also close to crashing out of the Champions League – which was a huge factor in Frenkie’s decision to stay.
Clearly, De Jong is committed to playing for Barca but the club don’t seem to reciprocate his eagerness. That also puts his World Cup place in potential risk.