Frenkie de Jong reacts to being substituted before the end of derby clash

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong didn’t appear too happy with being substituted in the city derby against Espanyol on Saturday afternoon.

Having been out of favour at the start of the season following a summer transfer saga, De Jong was starting a seventh consecutive La Liga game after cementing himself back in Xavi’s plans.

De Jong was on the pitch for 83 minutes at Camp Nou. But Barça were still being held, with Marcos Alonso’s early goal cancelled out by a Joselu penalty. Both teams were also down to 10 players, but the Catalans would have felt they were in the ascendancy needing to chase the win.

De Jong admitted to LaLiga TV after the game that he was surprised to have come off when he did, but said it was ‘the coach’s decision’ with an apparent air of frustration.

The draw was disappointing in more ways than one for Barça. Not only did they fail to secure local bragging rights, it means that the calendar ends with Real Madrid level pegging on 38 points.

Victory over Espanyol would have meant at least starting 2023 with a two-point cushion heading into the second half of the season and looking to wrestle back a first La Liga title since 2019.