Football News

Deco rules out Barcelona departures for Araujo and De Jong amid Man Utd links

By Harry Edwards

Published: 15:26, 26 February 2024

Barcelona sporting director Deco has ruled out summer departures for Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong amid reports of interest from Manchester United.

De Jong has long been linked with a move to Man Utd, and appeared close to joining the club in the summer of 2022, just after Erik ten Hag took charge. At the time, Barcelona were struggling with finances and reportedly had to sell players before they could register new signings for the 2022/23 La Liga season.

The Dutchman was one of those Barcelona were reportedly trying to shift, but De Jong himself was insistent on staying. It was a decision that proved best for both De Jong and Barcelona, as the midfielder became a crucial part of Xavi’s La Liga-winning side.

De Jong completed 2,063 of his 2,256 attempted passes in La Liga, both the most among his Barcelona teammates. He also completed the most final third passes and through balls, as well as having more touches than any Barcelona player.

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It’s a similar story this season, with De Jong completing more passes than any other Barcelona player, and more through balls on top of being second for final third passes completed and tackles. But De Jong is once again being linked with a move away from Barcelona, as the club’s financial problems rear their ugly heads.

The club have been hit with a reduced salary cap, at £174.8m, a reduction of over £56m from the previous cap of £231m that was set in the summer. Another name being linked with a move away this summer is Araujo, who has also been linked with a move to Man Utd.

The Red Devils are reportedly in the market for a centre-back, with Raphael Varane among those tipped to be moved on in the summer, as Ten Hag tries to rebuild an aging squad on high salaries. According to reports in the winter transfer window, Man Utd were ready to make an offer for Araujo, though it was a move that former Red Devils defender Rio Ferdinand dubbed a big risk for the Uruguayan.

“If I’m a player like [Araujo] who, I think, has every attribute to be one of the best defenders in the world, why are you going United?” Ferdinand told his Vibe with Five podcast in December,.

“I’d be looking at Varane and going, bruv, if he can go United and get benched for a left-back, for an old vet Jonny Evans, an old ex-player who’s come back for his twilight years, and then someone who used to be captain who was left out for 18 months, who’s back in form now and playing, I can’t go there and risk my life and risk my career.”

Araujo has played in 19 of Barcelona’s 26 La Liga games so far this season, missing a few at the start of the campaign due to injury, and he has also captained the Blaugrana on occasion. The Uruguayan has made 46 clearances in La Liga this season and won 48 aerial duels, both the second-highest for Barcelona.

Still only 24, Araujo is regarded as one of the top centre-backs in European football right now, and is also subject to reported interest from PSG. So it appears that Barcelona will have a fight on their hands in trying to keep the pair.

But Deco insists that neither will leave the club in the summer, reiterating that Barcelona intend to keep their best players.

“Nothing will happen to them,” Deco told Movistar.

“They have a contract and all the big clubs want to keep their best players and these are some of the best. They are important players for now and for the future.

“They have earned the right to be here and the respect of the fans and everyone. We know where we want to go and we are counting on them.”