Joao Felix could be dropped by FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez when Frenkie de Jong returns from injury, according to a report from AS.
The Portuguese has been a mainstay in the Blaugrana’s first XI since joining on loan from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day earlier this summer.
He picked up a few minutes away at Osasuna ahead of the September international break, and then went on an impressive run of games as a starting player until last week’s shock 1-0 defeat to Shaktar Donetsk.
Felix returned to the first XI for Sunday’s comeback win over Alaves and was among the best players in what was once more a poor side.
Barca have been boosted by the return of Pedri who, like most of his teammates, was much better in the second half of the 2-1 comeback victory at the Montjuic Stadium.
But when another center-of-the-park technician becomes available for the first time in just under two months, Felix could become a victim of the development according to AS.
Picking up a right ankle knock against Celta Vigo, De Jong is expected to make the squad list for November 25’s away trip to Rayo Vallecano.
The Madrid-based publication reports that Xavi is considering a return to the four-man midfield that proved highly-successful in last season’s run to the La Liga title.
It would probably see Ilkay Gundogan or Oriol Romeu partner Frenkie de Jong in the more defensive roles leaving two spots free.
Then, one of Gundogan, Gavi and Pedri play in an attacking midfield position as a fourth man operates as a false left winger.
While Felix might be safe for the Rayo clash, his spot on the left flank could be threatened a few days later when Barca host Porto at the Montjuic for a Champions League meeting that will probably decide who wins Group H.
Felix’s parent club Atletico Madrid come to the same ground the following weekend, as do surprise league leaders Girono the Saturday after that.
These are all key games that could have a great impact on Barca’s season, and Xavi now has another 13-day international break to come to a conclusion on his approach.