Barcelona president deals Man United huge blow in Frenkie de Jong chase
Manchester United have had better Saturdays.
For a time last week, it seemed like Manchester United might actually be getting their act together.
Despite a slow start to the summer transfer window, it appeared a raft of new signings was close. Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and at least 17 Ajax players would soon be added to Erik ten Hag's squad, it was reported.
It even seemed that a move for Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong - Ten Hag's number one priority - was imminent. Things were very definitely looking up. Saturday, however, was not a good day.
Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Man United.
It started with Cristiano Ronaldo. A month after Premier League season finished, the 37-year-old has seemingly only just realised United won't be playing Champions League football next term and has used that as part of his justification for wanting out.
Not ideal timing, giving the dearth of strikers who'd be able to come in and replace him.
Still, at least that De Jong signing was on the brink of completion, right?
Well, err... no. Perhaps not.
Laporta casts doubt on De Jong's United move
With news of Ronaldo's potential exit dominating headlines, comments emerged from Joan Laporta, Barcelona's president, which appeared to place De Jong's move to Old Trafford in serious doubt.
Last week, Barca were said to be willing to let the Dutch midfielder leave in order to ease their financial troubles. United, it seemed, were set to take advantage of that, having what appeared to be a free run at the player.
Laporta, however, had some bad news. United aren't the only club in for De Jong and, even if they are, it doesn't matter; Barca aren't for selling.
"There are clubs that want him, not just United," he told reporters. "We have no intention of selling him, he wants to stay.
"Frenkie is considered as one of the best midfielders in the world by all the experts. We are happy to have him."
A crushing blow, no doubt.
The idea that United, in a summer where they *had* to get their transfer business right, might have wasted their time and energy pursuing a player who they can't get will be hard to take for their already weary supporters.
Deal not dead.
There is, though, some hope. It should be remembered that Laporta made similar comments about keeping Lionel Messi a year ago, only for him to be moved on to Paris Saint-Germain.
He also qualified the above by saying he would do all he could to ensure De Jong remained, appearing to admit that the 25-year-old may have to take a wage cut in order to make that possible.
"I'm going to do everything I can in my power so that Frenkie stays here, but there's also a salary issue and that would have to be adjusted," he said.
Maybe Laporta means what he says and De Jong will stay put. Or maybe this is a way of forcing United to cough up what Barca want - an attempt to shift some of the blame for the midfielder's inevitable departure on his refusal to take a reduced pay packet.
Frankly, who knows? It certainly doesn't feel like this saga is set to reach a conclusion any time soon though.
- Cristiano Ronaldo asks to leave Manchester United if club receive ‘satisfactory offer’
- Chelsea interest in Frenkie de Jong may pitch Man United into bidding war.
- How Man United would line-up if they land their big summer transfer targets.