Barcelona ended their pre-season tour of the US on a high when they defeated New York Red Bulls FC 2-0 in New Jersey.
A goal from Ousmane Dembele put the Catalans ahead in the 40th minute before Memphis Depay doubled their tally late in the game to hand Barça their third win in four games during their time in America, following victories against Inter Miami and Real Madrid.
Xavi & co. will return to Barcelona unbeaten so far in pre-season. And following their final friendly in the US, the manager addressed the media, stating that he was happy with how the pre-season campaign had gone so far.
“The pre-season tour was positive in general. We still have work to do, but I am satisfied,” he said.
Xavi spoke about new signing Robert Lewandowski, who is yet to score his first goal for Barça in his three unofficial appearances. Given his prolific nature, the run of three games without a goal is a bit uncharacteristic for the Poland captain, but the manager backed him to come good soon.
“Lewandowski is frustrated, but that is normal. It’s the same thing that happened to Luis Suárez when he came. He will end up scoring,” he said.
During the pre-season tour, Xavi has opted to deploy Frenkie de Jong in a centre-back role more often than not. It has been perceived as a message to the player to consider leaving the club as Barcelona need to get his wages off the books, but the manager dismissed any such notions.
“I haven’t sent any signal to Frenkie de Jong. Let’s see what happens, as there is a lot of time until the 31st of August,” he said.
“Frenkie playing as a centre-back does not mean anything. It’s pre-season, and we’re trying out players in different positions. I played Nico as a centre-back and Raphinha on the left. I don’t send signals. I say things directly to the players,” the 42-year-old added.
Talking about Ousmane Dembele, who was on target against the New York Red Bulls, Xavi said: “I love Dembélé as a player. I trust him a lot and he knows it. Ever since I arrived, he is making a difference, with 13 assists last year. Now just imagine the footballer we would have if he starts scoring goals…”
The manager also had words of praise for new signing Raphinha, as he said: “Raphinha is a spectacular signing for Barça. Not only for this season but for the future as well. He associates well, positions himself well, can score goals, has good set pieces and above all, he shows he’s hungry.”
The Barcelona manager also dropped a strong hint that he could persist with Ronald Araujo in the right-back position while backing Eric Garcia and Andreas Christensen to be the ideal fit for his centre-back pairing.
“I want my centre-backs to be good with the ball, as Eric and Christensen are ideal for that. I think Araujo can be a good right-back,” he said.
Xavi also insisted that he was much happy with the squad depth at his disposal, saying: “I want to have two starting players for every position. That is a good problem to have. Last year, we had a small squad. We’re happy to have a more complete squad now.”
The club legend also wished Oscar Mingueza after his transfer to Celta Vigo from Barcelona, saying: “I’m happy for Mingueza, and I wish him all the best.”
Barcelona will take on Pumas in the Joan Gamper Trophy before kicking off the 2022/23 campaign against Rayo Vallecano in two weeks’ time.