MADRID — Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong will not return to action until after the next international break at the earliest after picking up an ankle injury at the weekend, manager Xavi said.
The 26-year-old Netherlands midfielder had played every minute of Barcelona’s LaLiga matches so far this season before being substituted in the first half against Celta Vigo on Saturday.
“He’ll be a significant absence for us,” Xavi told reporters recently. “Frenkie is fundamental to how we play, especially given the great form he was in.
“About the timeframe of his injury, it’s going to depend on him really but we will have to assess how he’s feeling after the next international break (in October).”
Barcelona visits Real Mallorca, followed by a home game against Sevilla and a Champions League group stage away fixture against Porto on Oct. 4. They visit Granada in the league on Oct. 8 before the break.
He is also doubtful for El Clasico against Real Madrid on October 28 and the Netherlands’ upcoming 2024 European Championship qualifiers against France and Greece.
Xavi said he will have to rotate his squad for upcoming matches, with midfielder Pedri also nursing a thigh injury.
“We will rotate not just for the Champions League, but also for the next LaLiga game,” he added.
“There will be an average of two or three players rotating every game, that’s how we understand we have to prevent injuries,”
De Jong will be a massive miss for club and country after starting the season in stellar form.
The 26-year-old helps control and dictate play for Xavi Hernandez’s side.
De Jong is in the 98th percentile for passes attempted and in the 97th for passes completed. He is in the 97th percentile for progressive passes and the 95th percentile for progressive carries.
His manager spoke on his absence from their coming games, saying: ‘It’s a big loss. It’s a tough one because of the way we play and the level he has been at.
“He’s a key player for us. He has been really good since last season.
“We have options to come in for him, so hopefully, we won’t suffer too much. We will see how he is after the [October] international break. That’s all we can say for now.”
De Jong will join Pedri on the sidelines. The talented Spaniard has been out of action for over a month, and there is no time frame for his return.