Things are getting very uncomfortable between Barcelona and their Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
In case you have missed it, Barcelona are currently undergoing a public campaign to effectively peer pressure De Jong into lowering his wages. Manchester United are interested in signing De Jong but he reportedly wants to stay. Barcelona are saying they want to keep him but only if he lowers his wages.
To add insult to injury, Barcelona have gone on a spending spree this summer in terms of transfer fees and wages. Raphinha, Jules Kounde and Robert Lewandowski have all come in for substantial outlays while Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen arrived on free transfers. They’re not done either, with Chelsea duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso reportedly on the wishlist.
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It’s unsurprising then that Barca have come in for so much flak for the way they have treated De Jong. Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville has been particularly vocal.
In one tweet, Neville said: “De Jong should consider legal action v Barcelona and all players should be behind him."
He later added: “It [the De Jong situation] has highlighted a situation I’ve always been passionate about which is employers/clubs taking the p*** out of workers/players and not paying them their due money!”
There’s a lot going on, so we got in touch with our colleague Enrique Sanchez from Eurosport Spain to find out more.

Is Neville right about Barcelona and De Jong?

This is the first place we start. Neville is being extremely vocal and it seems that he has a really good point, De Jong is entitled to look around him and ask what on earth is going on.
But what is the view from Spain?
“Yes,” says Sanchez when asked if Neville is correct. “If you have signed a contract you have to fulfil it. They have treated De Jong really badly,
“Because they have sent different messages, to him and other players, about the need to cut down their salaries.
“This is not fair while you are spending more money than any other club in Europe while you are supposed to be suffering financially. De Jong is entitled to stay at Barcelona with the same salary.”

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It is remarkable how long the saga over De Jong has been going on for. And it’s particularly weird when you consider that the player doesn’t really want to leave. Does Sanchez think that right now, as of today, De Jong will leave?
“It will depend on De Jong," he said. "If he is okay with getting paid less, he will stay. If he wants his whole salary they will probably sell him, it might be a story that will last all summer.”

Are they mortgaging their future? And why?

Barcelona have spent way over £100 million this summer and could go past £150m with the Azpilicueta and Alonso deals. This is despite 12 months ago having to let the greatest player in the club’s history leave because they couldn’t afford him amid suggestions that the club might go under.
So how is all this happening? Surely they are risking their entire future? What does Sanchez think?

Frenkie de Jong

Image credit: Getty Images

He said: “They could be risking their future, but they need a strong change right now and maybe this is a long shot, a bit of a gamble, but also a gamble they needed to take.
"High risk, yes, but if they don't make these changes they could be out of the Champions League or if they are in then losing every year at the last 16 or quarter-final stage and they need to be on top of Europe once more,
“Also, Laporta is selling rights for the next 25 years, so maybe in 15 years the club regrets this, but as Laporta will not be there, who cares now. People are just happy with the big new names.”
And that brings us nicely to our last question. Why are Barcelona doing this? Why now, why not spread it over a few windows?
“They need to generate hope,” says Sanchez matter-of-factly.
“They are aware of the low quality team they had. [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang or [Memphis] Depay in attack were not enough. They really had a bad defence, Eric Garcia, despite being a national team player, is not as strong a player as everybody thinks. [Gerard] Piqué is older and not 100% focused. [Samuel] Umtiti, has hardly played in the last few years.

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“There’s no reliable back-up for [Jordi] Alba. No proper right-back. Sergi Roberto is not a good enough defender and Sergino Dest is better attacking. Also nobody was on the bench to give Sergio Busquets a break. So they really needed to have a big window like this one to change the whole team.
“For sure they could have made these changes in more than one transfer window, but if they get the money and then they spend only half and the results are not good they will be criticised for two reasons, one for not spending and two for bad signings.
"Right now they could say, we spent a lot of money, brought in a lot of players, if this doesn't not work it is Xavi or the players’ fault, not the president.”
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