Football News

Joan Laporta: Barcelona don’t need to sell Frenkie de Jong amid Man Utd links

By Harry Edwards

Published: 10:48, 16 July 2022

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has insisted the Spanish club have no obligation to sell Frenkie de Jong amid Manchester United links.

The Blaugrana have been extremely busy in the summer transfer window so far despite entering it in financial difficulties, looking to offload players in order to register their new signings. After agreeing deals for Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie, Barcelona had to wait a while before officially announcing their new signings, freeing up their wage roll by selling or releasing the likes of Matheus Pereira, Dani Alves and Philippe Coutinho.

Xavi’s side have also renegotiated contracts for a number of players on lower wages in order to strengthen the squad but there may be more departures to come as Barcelona chase more new arrivals, after signing Raphinha from Leeds for £49m.

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One name that has constantly been linked with a move away from Barcelona this window is De Jong, who joined from Ajax in the summer of 2019. After being a star of the Ajax side that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018/19, De Jong was expected to become the main man of the Barcelona midfield but it just hasn’t worked out for the Dutchman at the Nou Camp.

Placed in a midfield three, De Jong has lost his way in the Barcelona team, overshadowed by the likes of Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Gavi and Nico Gonzalez and a 1-1 draw with Olot in pre-season highlighted just how good the Blaugrana midfield can operate without him.

Although Chelsea’s name has been mentioned, Man Utd appear to be the favourites to sign De Jong as they look to rebuild their midfield under Erik ten Hag. Over the summer, the Red Devils lost the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, leaving their midfield pretty threadbare. They have already added to that in Christian Eriksen, but Man Utd need more, and De Jong has a history with Ten Hag.

It was under Ten Hag that De Jong thrived at Ajax as part of a double pivot often alongside Lasse Schone en route to that Champions League semi-final, with the Dutchman having more freedom to link with Donny van de Beek higher up the pitch.

According to reports, Barcelona and Man Utd have agreed a deal for De Jong, with just personal terms to be finalised – though the midfielder’s wish is to stay at the Nou Camp. Yet while many believe Barcelona are trying to push the move through to free up room for more signings, such as Robert Lewandowski, club president Laporta insists this is not the case.

“It is not true that the club is obliged to sell Frenkie,” he said at the press conference unveiling Raphinha.

“We are at the presentation of a player who will make history at Barca. Xavi will be the one who decides whether he goes on tour, but I understand that he will.”

This does contradict the statement made by sporting director Mateu Alemany on the same day, who had said: “Frenkie is a very important player and we count on him.

“But we know La Liga’s Fair Play tells us to sell players. I can’t say more.”

Regardless of his future, De Jong has been named as part of Barcelona’s travelling squad for their US tour, which will see them face Inter Miami, Real Madrid and New York Red Bulls.