Barcelona president Joan Laporta has denied offering Frenkie de Jong to Chelsea but hinted that the midfielder could still join Manchester United this summer.
The Netherlands star has been fancied to leave the Catalan giants this summer as they need to recoup funds after the signings of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen.
United already have an agreement in place with the Blaugrana for the 25-year-old, but there are suggestions that the midfielder does not want to join them. On the other hand, De Jong is not prepared to leave until his deferred wages are paid.
In an exclusive interview with CBS Sports Golazo, Laporta acknowledged that the club have not given up on keeping the Dutch midfielder, but suggested that he may need to accept a pay-cut as Ousmane Dembele (40 per cent) to stay.
When pressed further on the transfer interest, Laporta dismissed reports that De Jong has been offered to Chelsea’s new owner Todd Boehly. He revealed that the recent meeting with Boehly was focused on general football.
He said: “No, no, no. We had a very nice dinner in Barcelona and we talked in general about football. He is a very successful businessman. He is involved in sport with the Lakers and Dodgers and now with Chelsea. He looks like a man who knows what he wants to do and it was a very nice dinner.”
However, he did not categorically rule out De Jong’s transfer to United, he added: “In football, you never know. I can’t say categorically. It all depends on the different parties. But in principle, I can say there is a strong possibility he stays, and I can say as president I will do my best for him to stay at Barcelona.”
United offered renewed hope of landing De Jong
The lack of Champions League football has been a stumbling block for United. De Jong is said to prioritise the competition which has led to the transfer links with Chelsea.
Laporta has now firmly denied any interest from the Blues, and this should offer the Red Devils with renewed hope to land De Jong, though they would still need to convince him.
United manager Erik ten Hag firmly believes the 25-year-old would be the ‘right player‘ to reinvent the club’s midfield, and this has been a reason behind the prolonged saga.
The 52-year-old’s presence could yet prove key to signing De Jong this summer, considering he previously managed the midfielder during his formative years at Ajax.
First of all, Barcelona need to repay his deferred wages. Talks are underway with De Jong over the same, but he seems unlikely to leave until his outstanding salary is fully settled.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
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