The Red Devils are thought to be negotiating personal terms with the Dutch midfielder having agreed upon a £56million deal, plus add-ons, with Barcelona. However, just when the long-running transfer tussle over the 25-year-old looked to be nearing its conclusion, it’s taken another twist.
Barcelona chief Laporta has insisted the cash-strapped Catalan club have “no intention” of selling De Jong this summer, while the player himself is determined to stay at the Nou Camp. Not only that, but updates on a number of the club’s targets, including Leeds winger Raphinha, will spark further cause for concern for the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
Addressing De Jong’s future, Laporta declared he will do “everything” to keep the former Ajax midfielder with the Blaugrana next season. He revealed: “There are many clubs that want him, not just Manchester United.
“We have no intention of selling him, he wants to stay. I’m going to do everything to keep Frenkie, but there’s also a salary issue and that would have to be adjusted.”
The Spanish side were previously thought to be open to offloading De Jong this summer, hence their decision to agree upon a fee with United. Barcelona remain embroiled in a crippling financial crisis and are currently endeavouring to rebalance their books in order to reshape their squad this summer.
In the past few days, the club agreed a deal to sell 10 per cent of their La Liga TV rights for the next 25 years to global investment firm Sixth Street Partners in order to generate revenue to cover this season’s accounts. Barcelona’s members have also agreed to sell 49.9 per cent of the Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) branch of the club in order to help address their financial turmoil.
The La Liga giants are said to hope the two arrangements will raise €600million in capital to help turn a profit and allow them to “make Barca a competitive team” once again. With renewed hope that the club can invest in new signings this summer, Laporta offered promising updates on a number of Barcelona’s summer transfer targets.
Raphinha remains one of the Blaugrana’s priorities, though Arsenal and Chelsea are also pushing to reach an agreement for the Brazilian. Laporta revealed Barcelona are in contact with Leeds over the winger, whose desire it is to join the Catalan club.
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“We have spoken with Leeds,” Laporta added. “We have communication. We have spoken personally. Raphinha wants to come at Barca. What is happening is that there are other clubs that want Raphinha too, and they are making proposals as well.”
In addition to Raphinha, Barcelona are also keen to bolster their forward line by adding Bayern Munich ‘s Robert Lewandowski to their ranks, and the prolific Pole himself has made no secret of his desire to join Xavi’s squad. However, Laporta remained coy over the prospect of the 33-year-old joining, asserting: “Lewandowski is a Bayern Munich player. We appreciate that he wants to come to Barça. We are very flattered. We have to stay reserved.”
Two other targets linked in recent times are central defensive duo Jules Kounde of Seville and Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli – both of whom are understood to have attracted interest from Chelsea. On potential moves for the pair, Laporta said: “Kounde? Go see [sporting director] Mateu Alemany. When we activate the lever, we will work at a top level. Koulibaly? I don’t talk about other players. Our advantage is that many players want to come here.”