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La Liga chief says Barcelona still need to sell players before season starts

by Ayantan Chowdhury

The Frenkie de Jong saga grows ever stranger by the day. At the start, it seemed like just a matter of time before Erik ten Hag got his wish. Manchester United had managed to negotiate a fee with Barcelona for the midfielder and just the structure of the add-ons needed to be tweaked.

Then came Joan Laporta’s comments followed by a detailed breakdown of De Jong’s salary along with the money owed to the Dutch playmaker by the club.

And despite the club’s inability to pay the deferred wages, they have managed to sign quite a few players and that has puzzled one and all. Barca have bought the likes of Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen, with seemingly more on the way.

Barca’s madness in the transfer market

Despite activating two economic levers (selling 35 per cent of their audio-visual rights), the Camp Nou outfit still have to sell a few players before the start of the La Liga campaign if they are to register their new buys according to the league president. And De Jong is their most salable asset.

“They know what they have to do. I think that they still have a bit of work to do but they are on the right track,” Javier Tebas was quoted as saying before the start of the 2022/23 season ‘Kick Off’ Gala.

He further explained, “Barcelona has sold 10% of its audiovisual rights for 207 million euros. Then they increased that part to 25%, which I think means about 350 more… That would already be 500 million euros and I think they still have another third lever of another 200. With this and if they release some players is what explains that chance to sign.”

While the economic matters might be complicated and a matter for La Liga to decipher before the start of the league, what has not impressed many observers is the way the Catalan giants have been treating the Dutch international.

It has been reported that the diminutive playmaker has been asked to take a further hefty salary cut in order to help the club register their new players or risk being sold.

Tebas was not appreciative of this and revealed, “Players cannot be separated or pressured, it is what is established by the collective agreement, the Law, reason and ethics. From there, Barcelona knows the rules and the responsibilities that exist in that aspect.”

Barca putting FDJ under pressure

The La Liga outfit are coming under intense scrutiny due to their handling of the 25-year-old. Former Red Gary Neville has already lashed out at Barcelona’s treatment in the recent past and more and more are coming out in support of De Jong.

Now President of the Dutch footballers’ union, Evgeniy Levchenko, has come out and termed Barca’s strategy as ‘a kind of extortion’.

“A union should protect all players. Now a player is cornered by a club and chased away. It’s up to an international union to stand up,” Levchenko was quoted as saying by SPORT. United and Chelsea are the clubs vying for his signature.

The VVCS chief has encouraged the former Ajax playmaker to continue his stance of of refusing to take a pay cut as the economic mess the club is in is not due to the player himself and he should not suffer for it.

Even on the field, the midfielder has been made to suffer. Xavi has towed the club’s line and has even gone on record saying that he sees De Jong as a centre-back and has played him there in pre-season.

As things get murkier, the saga shows no signs of slowing down. A conclusion is not expected to be reached any time soon. A lot will depend on De Jong himself and what Barcelona ultimately decide to do.

For now, United can either continue to play the waiting game or move on to other targets, something Ten Hag has refused to do so far.

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