Spanish outlet As claims that Barcelona head coach Xavi has held showdown talks with Frenkie de Jong about staying with the Spanish club.
It has been widely reported that Barça have agreed a €75 million plus €10 million deal with Man United for the Dutchman’ssignature, but so far, De Jong has refused to leave.
There is some disagreement in the press as to whether the refusal to leave is tactical, because he is owed €17 million in back pay by the Catalans, or whether he genuinely sees his future at the Camp Nou.
The Peoples Person reported earlier today that Xavi made comments after the Classico friendly in the USA late last night to the effect that he now sees De Jong as a centre back, a bizarre turn of events for one of the world’s top midfielders.
And AS now claims that the pair have discussed the future in a post-match meeting.
“Xavi … is aware that, in order to sign players, the club needs to get rid of some of the highest earning players in the current squad.
“One of those who lead the ranking from this season is Frenkie de Jong, thanks to the bizarre salary increase that Bartomeu imposed during his presidency.
“Xavi stressed that he is counting on him …that he can have a long way to go and not just play as a midfielder, and that his intention is to give him more prominence in other positions, such as, for example, centre back, where he has played the last two friendlies.
“But he also exposed the harsh reality: if he wants to be part of this project, he has to make an effort. And that effort goes through lowering his current salary by almost half.
“Only in this way can Xavi guarantee that he will continue playing for Barcelona.
“According to locker room sources, Xavi and Frenkie left the meeting satisfied.”
It is hard to believe that any player would leave a meeting satisfied in which he is told his salary will be halved, that the €17 million owed to him would not be paid, and that he would have to re-train as a centre back.
It seems nothing more than an ugly game of bullying and intimidation by the Blaugrana, who have lived beyond their means for so long and yet continue to do so.
Four new signings cannot be registered until De Jong leaves, but they can’t afford to pay him his due severance pay, that is the unbelievable situation that the new president, Joan Laporta, has helped to create.
United are sitting and waiting but it remains to be seen how long they will allow the drama to drag on before they turn their attentions elsewhere.