Barcelona's sporting director Deco has reportedly clashed with midfielder Frenkie de Jong over his absence from the team's recent match against Antwerp.
According to RAC1 (via Diario Sport), Deco called De Jong to inquire about the reason for his absence. De Jong explained that he was unwell, but Deco questioned the validity of his excuse, asking if the doctor had confirmed his illness.
The Portuguese sporting director reportedly believed that De Jong was feigning illness in order to avoid the game. Deco is said to have chastised the 26-year-old midfielder.
Adding another layer to the story, Barcelona's initial squad list for the Antwerp match excluded players such as Robert Lewandowski, Ronald Araujo, and Ferran Torres. Xavi had planned to give them a rest, but they were later added to the squad at Deco's request.
The timing of Deco's actions is particularly intriguing given Barcelona's recent string of defeats. The club lost 4-2 defeat to Girona in La Liga, following these losses, Barcelona was hoping that the game against Antwerp would mark a turning point, but they suffered yet another humiliating defeat, this time to a bottom-of-the-table side in their group.
Deco's decision to scold De Jong and question his medical status raise concerns about his methods and his relationship with the players. It is important for a sporting director to maintain a positive and supportive relationship with the team. Scolding players and questioning their health is not the way to build trust and confidence.
The incident also raises questions about Deco's judgment. Why would he question De Jong's illness without consulting a doctor? This suggests that he is not acting in the best interests of the team and that he is more concerned with enforcing his own authority than with supporting his players.