Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Pedri hopes ´key piece´ Busquets stays at Barcelona but sees De Jong as replacement

SoccerNews in La Liga 23 Dec 2022

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Pedri hopes Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets stays with the Blaugrana, but identified Frenkie de Jong as a capable replacement for the evergreen midfielder.

Barca great Gerard Pique confirmed his retirement in November and Xavi’s side may be set to lose another veteran, as Busquets nears the end of his contract in June.

The 34-year-old remains a pivotal part of Xavi’s midfield trio, alongside youngsters Pedri and Gavi, helping Barca to sit two points clear of Real Madrid at the LaLiga summit heading into the World Cup.

While 20-year-old Pedri continues his seismic rise in both international and domestic football, Busquets called an end to his Spain career after their World Cup elimination in the last 16 to Morocco.

Pedri urged his midfield partner to continue with Barca past the end of his existing contract, though he feels De Jong could step into the role given his experience with the Netherlands.

“I would like him to continue, he is a key piece,” he told Catalunya Radio. “Frenkie de Jong could be a good replacement for Busquets, he has played in that position with the Netherlands in the World Cup.”

Spain’s early World Cup exit in Qatar culminated in the departure of Luis Enrique – much to Pedri’s disappointment – with Luis de la Fuente replacing him.

Meanwhile, team-mate Ousmane Dembele suffered final heartbreak with France, with the 20-year-old suggesting the winger has returned a different player after the agonising defeat to Argentina.

“[Luis Enrique] transmits things very well. It’s a shame, but we will now play with Luis de la Fuente to the fullest,” he added. “[Dembele] is now more professional than he was before, and it shows.”

Pedri and Busquets will hope to pick up where they left off as Barcelona restart their LaLiga campaign against rivals Espanyol on December 31.

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