Rafael van der Vaart has issued a scathing criticism of Barcelona’s treatment towards Frenkie de Jong, suggesting their attitude has been comparable to the “mafia”.
De Jong, 25, has been a stable part of the Camp Nou furniture since relocating from Ajax in 2019, but in recent weeks their relationship has taken an embittered turn, with Barca thought to be keen on selling the midfielder to ease their financial uncertainties.
A report from The Athletic suggests that Barcelona wrote to De Jong last month claiming the deal he signed in 2020 contained evidence of “criminality” from the previous regime, and they now want him to return to his original contract with the club.
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The saga of the summer continues to rumble on and Van der Vaart has now spoken out in support of his compatriot, slamming Barcelona for the way they have treated the midfield metronome and suggesting they should even be “punished”.
“You can’t treat people like this,” Van der Vaart told Ziggo Sport.
“Frenkie earns too much? First you sign a contract and then you fulfil it or you leave on good terms, but it is not like that. This is a mafia and they have to be punished.”
De Jong could only muster an appearance off the bench as Barcelona drew 0-0 with Rayo Vallecano in their opening match of the 2022/23 La Liga season, with both Manchester United and Chelsea still thought to be keen on bringing the Dutchman to the Premier League.
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Xavi meanwhile has been busy padding out his squad with several high-profile names this summer, including Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Franck Kessie, but their activity has not impressed Van der Vaart, who believes the club’s reputation has been severely tarnished.
“The name of Barca has come out of it looking very bad. It is great club and everyone wants to play there. But from here on we are judging it in a different way and to me it’s a disgrace when you play for them,” he added.