FC Barcelona Coach Xavi Has Already Found His Sergio Busquets Replacement

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FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has found his long-term replacement for captain Sergio Busquets.

The Spain international has been a mainstay in the Blaugrana midfield since breaking into the first team in 2008 under Pep Guardiola.

With his contract expiring on June 30 next year, however, the 34-year-old has reportedly told president Joan Laporta and his board that he has no intention of renewing, with Inter Miami in the MLS a likely next stop on the road to retirement.

Barca have continually put off trying to find their next Busquets, or have been disappointed by those that appeared primed to step into the World Cup winner’s shoes once he left Camp Nou.

On Sunday however, SPORT in Catalonia report that Xavi has already found his man in Frenkie de Jong.

Of the eight matches Barca have played thus far in 2022/2023, Busquets has been benched for three. In each instance, De Jong has taken his place in the starting line-up.

On Saturday, the Netherlands playmaker delivered his best performance of the season in a 3-0 home win over Elche that fired his team to the top of La Liga as Busquets watched on alongside fellow frozen out veterans Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique.

Completing 95 passes, De Jong also won eight out of nine duels and pulled off five interceptions and tackles. Earlier in the match, he also delivered a stunningly accurate pass from deep that led to Robert Lewandowski being fouled and Gonzalo Verdu handed the red card that flipped the tie on its head.

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Since joining from Ajax in a €75mn ($75mn) deal in 2019, De Jong had continually been a starter under previous coaches such as Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setien and Ronald Koeman.

Under Xavi, however, his plight had recently been complicated by the emergence of Pedri and Gavi plus transfer speculation that almost saw him sold to Manchester United this summer.

In recent weeks, De Jong has proven his worth to the club legend and now appears to be set for a prominent role that would see him provide pivot support to the two Spanish youngsters who have recently signed long term contracts with €1bn ($1bn) release clauses.