Xavi has suggested Luuk de Jong could stay at Barcelona beyond the January transfer window after firing his side to “three golden points” against Real Mallorca.
De Jong’s loan from Sevilla was expected to be terminated this month ahead of the forward joining fellow LaLiga side Cadiz for the remainder of the season.
However, the Netherlands international was required against Mallorca on Barca’s return to action on Sunday due to a spate of COVID-19 cases in the Blaugrana camp.
After twice hitting the woodwork, De Jong headed in his second league goal of the campaign in the 44th minute to seal a 1-0 victory for Barca in Palma.
In doing so, he became the first Barca player other than Lionel Messi to hit the frame of the goal twice in a single LaLiga game since August 2019.
And with Xavi still waiting on other players to return to fitness, the recently appointed coach hinted De Jong may yet remain at Camp Nou for the rest of 2021-22.
“He is an example of a professional,” Xavi said at his post-match news conference. “It is said that he can go out, but he works, he sacrifices himself. He is a hell of a professional.
“I am happy with him. Of course I am contemplating him staying because today he has been useful to us. He is an example for everyone.
“Depending on how you train, you will play. We will see the future. We will see if there are exits and entrances. But they are all hypotheses.”
De Jong has scored eight headed goals in all competitions since the 2019-20 season, a record surpassed only by Karim Benzema (13), Ante Budimir (11) and Youssef En-Nesyri (nine) among LaLiga players in all competitions.
It was also Barca’s seventh headed goal in LaLiga this season, which is the most of any side and the same number they managed across 38 league matches last time out.
That match-winning moment helped Barca to just a second victory in six games across all competitions as they moved fifth in LaLiga and within a point of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.
Xavi was pleased with the fighting spirit shown by his side, though the win would not have been possible if not for an impressive save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen to deny Juame Costa in stoppage time.
“There are three golden points,” he said. “They way we played, and the circumstances we played in, this is a family victory. We have showed we know how to suffer.
“We had a very good first half and showed lots of personality. We are on the way up.
“We wanted the game to be suspended but I’m proud of the team, and proud of Marc. We needed him. He stopped a goal at the end and saved us.
“But the youngsters in the side are also helping us a lot. They have the right mentality and are well prepared. These three points put us in the fight for the top positions.”
Milestone for @RiquiPuig!
Today was his 50th Barça appearance across all competitions!
Congrats, Riqui! pic.twitter.com/2jTvpaVKV3
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 2, 2022
Riqui Puig was one of the many youngsters on display for Barca, the academy product making his landmark 50th appearance for the club in all competitions.
He completed 66 of his 69 passes for a passing accuracy of 96 per cent that no other Barcelona player could match on the day.
“Riqui was very good,” Xavi said. “As were the others, like [Oscar] Mingueza and [Ferran] Jutgla. They have all worked hard for the team and it is exciting for us.
“This is the way forward and this victory is an example of that.”
Dani Alves and Jordi Alba missed Sunday’s win after testing positive for coronavirus, but the pair have since returned negative tests and have been given the green light to return to training from Monday.