Frenkie de Jong insists he knew he would play fewer minutes this season but is desperate to regain a regular starting spot in Barcelona’s midfield ahead of Sunday’s Clasico.
The Netherlands international was at the centre of the summer’s longest running transfer saga which ultimately saw him remain at Camp Nou despite being pressured to leave.
Erik ten Hag was keen to make his former charge the centre piece of his rebuild, but De Jong had little intention of leaving Barcelona.
, too, attempted to engineer a deal and were even reported to have had a bid in the region of £86million accepted by the cash strapped Catalan giants.
De Jong was urged to take a pay cut to ease Barcelona’s financial concerns and was jeered by his own supporters during a pre-season friendly after he refused to forgo a significant portion of his earnings.
United are said to be monitoring the 25-year-old’s situation and may reignite their interest in January or, most likely, in the summer if he continues to play a bit-part role at Camp Nou.
De Jong started on the bench against Inter in midweek as Barcelona were forced to settle for a damaging 3-3 draw which will most likely result in their elimination from the Champions League at the group stage for the second consecutive season.
Barcelona will hope to bounce back and maintain leadership of La Liga with a positive result against Real Madrid tomorrow and De Jong is desperate to play a full part.
He said: ‘We don’t talk much with Xavi, but we only talk about football. I knew I would play fewer minutes at the beginning of the season.
‘I want to be a starter again. Against Bayern, I wasn’t a starter and I hope to be against Real Madrid. Maybe he already decided, but usually we don’t know until the day of the game.’
On the pressure he encountered over the summer, De Jong added: ‘I was calm. I decided in May, that I wanted to stay.
‘My opinion has never changed during all this period. I remained calm. But then you know that the pressure would start coming from the newspapers, from the president, from everywhere in fact. But I wanted to stay at Barca, so it never bothered me.’