Manchester United and Chelsea target Frenkie de Jong was targeted by a barrage of insults from Barcelona fans as he reported for training on Wednesday. A group waited for his car to arrive before explicitly demanding that he lower his salary, with his entourage currently in Barca for crunch talks on his future.
De Jong’s transfer saga has arguably defined this summer. Manchester United have given chase for months on end, but competing interests from all sides have stalled the deal despite the £72million agreement already in place.
The Dutchman supposedly wants to stay at the Camp Nou, but to do that Barca have demanded that he take a drastic salary reduction. Even if he wants to leave, De Jong’s camp are still butting heads with Barca over £17m of deferred wages that they feel are owed.
Spanish outlet Sport claim that De Jong’s agents are in Catalonia today to resolve the player’s future, one way or another. Chelsea and Man Utd will eagerly await the outcome, with Barca potentially in trouble if they can’t find the funds to register a host of their new signings by the end of the week.
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As De Jong’s car approached the Barcelona training complex, a group of fans were heard shouting what translated as ‘lower your salary, b****’. La Blaugrana have been in a tricky financial position for some time and they were forced to part ways with club icon Lionel Messi last summer.
But president Joan Laporta has activated a series of financial levers to sign Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde over the past few weeks. La Liga are seemingly unconvinced by their approach, however, and Barca are still in a battle to register their new recruits – including free arrivals Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen.
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De Jong is believed to be Barcelona’s highest earner ahead of veterans like Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique. Ousmane Dembele signed a new contract this summer with dramatically reduced wages, while Pique and Busquets are both set to cut their own pay packets to help out the club.
If De Jong is not keen to follow suit, a move to the Premier League seems like the inevitable alternative. Man Utd have already agreed on a £72m fee but Chelsea are set to match it if they get the green light from the midfielder, who is rumoured to favour living in London and playing Champions League football over Manchester and the Europa League.
In a recent discussion with Express Sport, former Premier League striker Alan Smith said: “It’s difficult to get your head around it. The player said he wants to stop at Barcelona and now there’s talk of, even if he were to leave, he’d like to go somewhere like Chelsea.
“It’s a bit humiliating for Man Utd – one of the biggest clubs in the world is not being treated in that fashion. What’s happening at Barcelona is another story altogether isn’t it, god knows. The money that they’re spending, can they register these players, the £17m that the club owe De Jong. It’s not normally difficult for United to convince a player that Old Trafford is the place to be, but things change.”