Lionel Messi could return to Barcelona, claims vice-president Eduard Romeu, stating the club knows "how to perform miracles" after they announced a profit.

The forward left last year when Barcelona were prevented from re-signing him after his contract expired because their financial struggles led to a massively reduced salary limit in LaLiga.

He then signed a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain, though the relatively short-term nature of that deal meant speculation has frequently linked the veteran Argentinian with a homecoming at Camp Nou.

Romeu suggested any decision to bring Messi back to the club is a matter for the sporting side of Barcelona, but he hinted they could make any move work financially.

"He is an asset to the club and our doors are open," he said. "We have shown that we know how to perform miracles."

His comments came as Barca posted a €98million profit after tax for the 2021-22 financial year, following several seasons of serious economic woe.

President Joan Laporta's activated what he called financial "levers" during the off-season to help ease their strife in the short-term. His measures included selling off 25 per cent of their LaLiga TV rights for the next 25 years.

While critics accused Laporta of mortgaging the club's future, they were able to build a squad that is expected to be competing for the biggest prizes in football once again, with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha arriving at Camp Nou.

Laporta's gamble is also reflected in the club's latest statement of profit, though whether they have enough manoeuvrability to put together a package for Messi's return remains theoretical.

Ronald Koeman claimed an attempted move to bring Georginio Wijnaldum to Barcelona fell through after president Joan Laporta delayed a deal.

The Dutchman, who was fired by the LaLiga outfit last October after 14 months in charge at Camp Nou, struggled at times on the Barcelona bench and was replaced by Xavi.

Koeman, who will embark on a second spell as Netherlands head coach after the World Cup in Qatar, has confirmed he attempted to bring in compatriot Wijnaldum during the final transfer window of his Barcelona tenure.

However, Koeman contends that president Laporta, then recently returned to the position as Josep Maria Bartomeu's successor, stymied any move by dragging his heels.

"I tried to sign Wijnaldum for Barca, but I failed because the president wanted to play with me more than bring in a player," Koeman told Dutch newspaper AD.

"That delayed the operation, and for that reason, he opted for PSG. Otherwise, he would have played for Barcelona."

Wijnaldum left Liverpool in June 2021 to join Paris Saint-Germain, but he struggled across a dismal first season, resulting in him being loaned out to Roma for the current campaign.

A serious leg injury has since left Wijnaldum sidelined, however, making it highly unlikely he will be included in the Netherlands' squad for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Everything appeared to be heading towards Barcelona and Ousmane Dembele parting on poor terms after a largely unsatisfactory association.

"Either he renews, or we look for an exit," Xavi said in January, fielding the latest in a series of questions about the winger.

With Dembele failing to agree to a new Barcelona contract at the start of 2022, director of football Mateu Alemany was even more forthright, declaring: "He must leave the club immediately."

Fast forward eight months, and the unpredictable attacker has emerged as a key cog in a revitalised Barca side, one tipped to compete with Real Madrid after making an unbeaten start in LaLiga.

Having been in the cold since Euro 2020, Dembele is also back in the France squad for their upcoming Nations League matches, with his sights set on claiming a spot in Didier Deschamps' party for the World Cup in Qatar.

Football loves a redemption arc, and that of Dembele in 2022 is up there with the very best in recent memory.

On the eve of his France return, Stats Perform looks at Dembele's journey from €105million flop to the creative hub of Xavi's side, asking whether a World Cup flourish is next for the winger.

Injury woes and the long shadow of Neymar

Barcelona's failings following Neymar's 2017 move to Paris Saint-Germain have been well-documented, with Dembele long viewed as the ultimate personification of the shambolic recruitment policy during Josep Maria Bartomeu's tenure.

The Blaugrana parted with an initial €105m for Dembele, who recorded 30 goal contributions (10 goals, 20 assists) and created 100 chances in his lone season with Borussia Dortmund.

That substantial fee saw Dembele, a talented yet raw 20-year-old, touted as a replacement for Neymar, a pressure that appeared to weigh heavily on the Frenchman; he needed over seven months to score his first goal in LaLiga, finally finding the net at Celta Vigo in April 2018.

While Ernesto Valverde led Barca to a domestic double in 2017-18, Dembele's own contribution was limited by a series of injury setbacks, which represented a sign of things to come.

 

Dembele made just 17 league appearances and 12 starts in his debut campaign, having been ruled out until January 2018 after suffering a serious hamstring injury within a month of his arrival.

In three of Dembele's first five campaigns at Barca, injuries ruled him out for 100 days or more. Between the beginning of 2017-18 and the end of 2020-21, meanwhile, he started just 36 per cent of the club's league games.

On the rare occasions Dembele did stay fit, meanwhile, his output was negligible in a side increasingly reliant on Lionel Messi's brilliance. Dembele's tally of 17 league goals and 14 assists in his first four seasons hardly represented value for Barcelona's mammoth investment, meaning the winger was considered ripe for a sale as the club's economic position worsened.

From contract rebel to key man: Spearheading the Xavi revival 

Even LaLiga's casual observers must have grown tired of discussions over the economic "levers" being pulled by Joan Laporta's regime. But before the sales of future TV rights and production companies, shifting Dembele was touted as a means by which to balance the books after the January arrival of Ferran Torres.

With a loan move for Adama Traore leaving Barcelona's forward line well-stocked, the message could not have been clearer; if Dembele would not agree to fresh terms, he was surplus to requirements.

But with Traore struggling on his return to Spain and Torres regularly deployed centrally, Xavi decided to utilise Dembele once the January transfer window closed. He was richly rewarded after reinstating him on the right of Barca's attack.

Since Xavi took charge in November 2021, Dembele's 17 assists in all competitions is bettered only by Messi (22) and Kevin De Bruyne (21) among players in Europe's top five leagues, while his 15 LaLiga assists during that time is a team-high.

Dembele also leads Barca's charts for chances created (63), chances created from open play (52) and touches in the opposing box (126) under Xavi in LaLiga, finally combining his menacing dribbling ability with genuine threat and creativity.

 

And Dembele's 68 dribbles completed in that time – also a team-high – show he has not sacrificed the individual skill that attracted Barcelona's attentions five years ago. 

Three months on from Dembele being booed by his own supporters during a Europa League clash with Napoli, Xavi said: "When he has not been involved, we have noticed."

The former midfield maestro was right. Barcelona won two-thirds of the league games Dembele started last season, and 47.8 per cent of those he didn't.

That impact meant Dembele's belated contract renewal, finalised in July, was received with enthusiasm by everyone at Camp Nou, with the winger subsequently going from strength to strength.

The tonic to Deschamps' blues?

If some thought the arrival of Raphinha might threaten Dembele's place in Xavi's side, he has made them eat their words at the start of the new campaign.

Having tallied the most assists (13) and expected assists (9.2 xA) in LaLiga last season, Dembele has recorded four league goal contributions since the August restart (two goals, two assists), forcing his way back into Deschamps' thoughts.

By the end of August, Dembele had been involved in more shots (15) as a consequence of ball carries than any other player in LaLiga, and his dynamic, unpredictable style may be just what Les Bleus require.

 

Dembele was used sparingly at Euro 2020, with Antoine Griezmann preferred alongside Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe as France won just once in four outings. However, it's easy to see why Dembele's ability to hug either touchline might appeal to Deschamps, offering him tactical flexibility when several other options appear compromised. 

Griezmann's lack of game-time at Atletico Madrid has been subject to much debate in recent weeks, while Kingsley Coman is out of France's latest squad through injury. Benzema's own injury scare, meanwhile, will no doubt have sharpened Deschamps' mind on the need for a plan B.

With France failing to win any of their first four Nations League games this time around, Dembele's Barcelona revival may have come at the perfect time.

Should Dembele carry his club form onto the international stage, potentially contributing to the first successful World Cup defence since Brazil's 1962 win, his 2022 will surely go down as one of football's most emphatic comebacks. 

Barcelona have confirmed their board has approved an operating income budget of €1.255billion for the 2022-23 season.

LaLiga giants Barca have been battling financial difficulties over the course of several seasons, with president Joan Laporta aiming to steady the ship, though it has not stopped them spending big in the transfer market.

Though Lionel Messi left the club in 2021, Barca this year signed Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha for big money, while also adding Andreas Christensen, Franck Kessie, Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso on low-cost deals. Ousmane Dembele was handed a new contract, too.

Barca sold 25 per cent of their TV revenue for the next 25 years to private equity group Sixth Street in two separate deals in June and July, while they have also turned to streaming platform Spotify as their new stadium and shirt sponsor.

On Monday, a club statement outlined a €1.255billion budget for the 2022-23 season, as well as confirming the previous financial year's turnover of €1.017billion, €98million of which is said to have been profit.

The forecasted profit for the next financial year is much greater, at €274m.

Barca's board also decided the club's general assembly of delegate members would be held virtually on October 9. Xavi's team host Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on the same day.

In a subsequent statement, Barca announced the tender process for the project management of the redevelopment of the Gol Sur section of their stadium had been finalised, with contracts signed with Catalan companies Enginyeria i Arquitectura Torrella and Ingenieros JG.

According to Barca, the tender process for the construction work has not yet finished.

Jordi Cruyff officially became Barcelona's sporting director of football on Friday in a move described by coach Xavi as "a great decision from the club".

The Dutchman, son of Barcelona great Johan Cruyff and a former player himself for the Blaugrana, was brought back to Camp Nou by president Joan Laporta last year to take up a strategic role in the football operation.

Now, Cruyff has signed a deal to be the club's sporting director of football, working in tandem with Mateu Alemany, who already holds down a similar role.

Cruyff had been operating in his new role for several weeks, prior to putting pen to paper.

Barcelona announced in a statement: "Jordi Cruyff has signed his contract as FC Barcelona's new sporting director of football. He has already been serving in the role since July 1.

"An FC Barcelona player from 1993 to 1996, he returned to the club last season as director of the international area of the football section and played a key role in the two most recent transfer windows as a member of the sporting commission."

Xavi believes 48-year-old Cruyff can bring a positive influence to bear after being handed increased responsibility.

A former coach of Chinese Super League side Shenzhen, Cruyff will be taking decisions that directly affect Xavi and the first team.

Xavi said: "First of all, I'm going to ask if he can invite me for dinner to celebrate this. I've very happy for him but also for us.

"He is a very capable person, very intelligent, he knows a lot about football; he is very loyal to me personally but also to the entire staff.

"It is a great decision from the club, I back it 100 per cent. I've always said many times, whether it's me here as a coach or not, both Mateu and Jordi are fantastic in the role and for the club."

Barcelona sporting director Jordi Cruyff insisted the side's host of new additions joined in order to "follow their dream" as he hit out at criticism of the Blaugrana's transfer policy.

Despite concerns regarding the club's finances, Barcelona acquired Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso during a busy transfer window.

Xavi's new-look team have impressed this season, taking 13 points from their first five matches in LaLiga, but many onlookers were surprised by their ability to outmanoeuvre their rivals in the market.

Raphinha and Kounde, for instance, were both strongly linked with Chelsea before arriving at Camp Nou. Cruyff, however, insists Barca retain a unique draw.

"Barcelona has a magnet, it is beautiful," Cruyff told Guillem Balague ahead of the Cruyff Legacy Summit.

"You can see the pride in the eyes of the players when they get a chance to sign for Barcelona and that has helped a lot, being able to compete with clubs with bigger budgets and better salaries.

"They wanted to sign for Barcelona, and we are very grateful for these players because, believe me, they had better offers than us.

"And still they chose to follow their dream to be part of history. When you see the eyes shining in these players you know you are in a special place."

LaLiga's strict salary controls meant Barca were forced to wait to register some of their new signings, with Kounde sitting out the club's opening league game as they attempted to streamline their squad.

However, Cruyff believes those who criticised the club's transfer policy lack understanding, adding: "I have noticed 99 per cent of the people don't understand Spanish financial fair play, how to fit that puzzle.

"It is something you won't understand in one hour, it is more complex and complicated. Even when you have money, you can't spend it.

"The news that has come out about us is not always accurate, and I understand people listen to that and think what Barcelona has done is maybe not elegant.

"That is a question of understanding fair play. Our job was to, inside the strict rules of Spanish football, improve the team. Now we have a squad that can compete with everything."

Cruyff also believes Barcelona's purchases were made with the future in mind, adding: "Most of the players we have brought in have a lot of years in front [of them], have a transfer value.

"We have made financially good decisions because you can see in the last week of the window how values have gone up.

"We have a squad for the future. The future is here and the present is here. We have things we need to improve, but the club had to make that decision in the summer.

"January 2022 was not a moment to buy four or five players and repair what we needed to repair. In January we looked at the short term, now we looked at short, middle and long term.

"The team has started really well, with the manager doing a really good job. He has a positive headache... he has a good squad to choose from.

"If that continues the right way, the city is alive again. Even for the smaller games, it's a sell-out and that shows the mood. You see how the people are so happy with the players that have joined. You feel it is alive again, and this club needed that."

Jurgen Klopp admits he does not understand how Barcelona have been able to conduct their high-spending transfer plans, and has cautioned that the club may face irreparable damage down the line.

The Catalan giants have bolstered their ranks with a slew of major recruits ahead of the new campaign, including Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde.

But the club's long-documented financial struggles has seen them forced to sell off non-playing assets and activate various 'levers' in order to register them in line with rules laid out by La Liga.

Even then, the Spanish giants have not been able to get all of their new faces on board, with Kounde still waiting for sufficient cap space to be made in order to include him in Xavi's squad.

President Joan Laporta previously hit out at comments by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann over their transfer dealings, but Liverpool boss Klopp concurs with his compatriot over their dealings.

"No, [I do not understand] for various reasons," he was quoted by Bild. "One reason is that I'm not a financial expert.

"[But] the second [is] if you tell me I don't have any money, then I don't spend anything anymore. I'm watching this like a football fan, I don't understand."

Barcelona have sold part of their stadium in order to secure the deals, effectively ransoming their future if their gamble fails to pay off.

Klopp speculated that such a move could lead to bankruptcy, and drew parallels to Borussia Dortmund, who sold their stadium rights and narrowly avoided financial ruin after Hans-Joachim Watzke took over in 2005.

"The only club I know that once sold the stadium and other rights in advance was Borussia Dortmund," he added. "Aki Watzke had to come at the last second and save the whole thing.

"I don't know if there is an Aki Watzke in Barcelona."

Barcelona have activated a fourth economic lever in a bid to ensure their new signings can be registered for LaLiga, announcing the sale of a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million.

The Catalan giants, who have signed the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie despite ongoing financial troubles, have reportedly failed to register their new acquisitions for the upcoming league campaign.

President Joan Laporta has been working to raise funds to allow Barca to meet LaLiga's salary limits ahead of the season, and said last week the club had made a "great effort" to do so. 

Last month, 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios was sold to the company Socios.com for €100million, while the Blaugrana have also sold 10 per cent of their LaLiga broadcasting rights to American investment firm Sixth Street, among other measures.

But with reports suggesting the club were still struggling to meet LaLiga's rules, they have announced a second deal for an equivalent stake in Barca Studios.

"FC Barcelona announces the sale of 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios to the company Orpheus Media, managed by Mr Jaume Roures, an audiovisual production company with a long history of producing content, for 100 million euros," read a club statement.

"The agreement complements the one signed on 29 July with Socios.com and will help to accelerate the growth of the club's digital, NFT and Web.3 strategy.

"With this investment the strategic partners in Barca Studios show confidence in the value of the project and the future of digital content in the world of sport."

Reports suggest that while Barca are prioritising the registration of their new signings, they are still eyeing a move for Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva has been touted as another target.

Barca begin their LaLiga campaign when they host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, though it remains to be seen how many of their new stars can feature.

Barcelona have activated a fourth economic lever in a bid to ensure their new signings can be registered for LaLiga, announcing the sale of a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million.

The Catalan giants, who have signed the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie despite ongoing financial troubles, have reportedly failed to register their new acquisitions for the upcoming league campaign.

President Joan Laporta has been working to raise funds to allow Barca to meet LaLiga's salary limits ahead of the season, and said last week the club had made a "great effort" to do so. 

Last month, 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios was sold to the company Socios.com for €100million, while the Blaugrana have also sold 10 per cent of their LaLiga broadcasting rights to American investment firm Sixth Street, among other measures.

But with reports suggesting the club were still struggling to meet LaLiga's rules, they have announced a second deal for an equivalent stake in Barca Studios.

"FC Barcelona announces the sale of 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios to the company Orpheus Media, managed by Mr Jaume Roures, an audiovisual production company with a long history of producing content, for 100 million euros," read a club statement.

"The agreement complements the one signed on 29 July with Socios.com and will help to accelerate the growth of the club's digital, NFT and Web.3 strategy.

"With this investment the strategic partners in Barca Studios show confidence in the value of the project and the future of digital content in the world of sport."

Reports suggest that while Barca are prioritising the registration of their new signings, they are still eyeing a move for Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva has been touted as another target.

Barca begin their LaLiga campaign when they host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, though it remains to be seen how many of their new stars can feature.

Frenkie de Jong appears likely to remain at Barcelona for this season, if the comments from club president Joan Laporta after their side's 6-0 pre-season win against Pumas are to be believed.

De Jong scored the sixth goal in the rout, coming off the bench at half-time and finding the net in the 84th minute.

He has been one of the main names featured in transfer rumours this off-season, with Barcelona's questionable finances making it seem like the club would have to part ways with the 25-year-old Dutch international to fund their sizeable moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

However, having been outspoken about his desire to remain at Camp Nou, it now seems more likely he will not be sold during this transfer window, with Laporta saying before the match against Pumas that it is what both parties want.

"Frenkie is our player and we want him to stay at Barcelona," he said. "He wants to stay, too.

"With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield. He has offers, but we want him to stay."

After the match, Xavi was less emphatic about De Jong's future when interviewed by TV3, but insisted that he's "counting on" the midfielder this season.

"I don’t know what will happen to Frenkie, as until August 31st anything can happen," he said.

"He knows what I think, and what the club want and need. Of course I’m counting on him, he’s a great player."

Barcelona will open their LaLiga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has confirmed the club are looking to offload Samuel Umtiti and Martin Braithwaite before the transfer window closes.

The LaLiga giants have been busy in the transfer market, signing Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen – with Chelsea's Marcos Alonso lined up as the next recruit.

Barca could not afford to keep Lionel Messi a year ago due to their financial crisis and there has been talk that LaLiga may not give them the green light to register their new recruits due to limits on spending.

Laporta has stated that he does not envisage any issues after the club signed up to a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify, and sold a percentage of LaLiga broadcast rights, merchandising rights and a stake in Barca Studios.

Barca are prepared to activate a fourth financial lever to allow for those registrations, if required, and are also looking to reduce their wage bill, with departures and negotiations for wage reductions on the cards.

With the new season beginning on Saturday against Rayo Vallecano, Barca are in a race against time to register their new additions and, while Laporta remains confident they will be able to do so, there is still work to be done.

Ahead of Sunday's pre-season clash against Mexican side Pumas, Laporta revealed Umtiti and Braithwaite have been informed that they are not in the club's plans - following on from the cancellation of Neto's contract, with the goalkeeper joining Bournemouth.

"Umtiti and Braithwaite have a contract, but they have understood that the coach does not count on them and that the best thing for them is to leave," he told ESport3.

Laporta added: "We are awaiting some more dismissals, but with the operations we have carried out we understand that we will be able to register all signings and renewed players."

Frenkie de Jong is another player who has been heavily touted for an exit before the window closes on September 1, but Laporta has once again outlined the club's desire to retain the services of the Netherlands international.

"Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player. He has offers, but he wants to stay, and we want him to stay," he added.

Joan Laporta is confident Barcelona will be able to register all of their new signings after they "complied with everything" required by LaLiga.

Robert Lewandowski was presented as a Barca player at Camp Nou on Friday after the Poland captain was signed from Bayern Munich for a fee that could reportedly rise to €50million.

The Catalan giants have also splashed out on Raphinha and Jules Kounde, while Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen arrived as free agents and Ousmane Dembele signed a new deal.

Barca were in dire straits a year ago, with Lionel Messi leaving the club as they could not afford to keep the legendary Argentina skipper due to a financial crisis at Camp Nou.

There has been talk that LaLiga may not give the green light to register Barca's new recruits due to limits on spending.

Blaugrana president Laporta does not envisage any issues after the club signed up to a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify, and sold a percentage of LaLiga broadcast rights, merchandising rights and a stake in Barca Studios.

Laporta said in a media conference after Lewandowski was paraded on the pitch: "We have worked to be able to register all the players that we have incorporated.

"We have worked hard and well to meet the requirements that are needed for the registrations. If any further operation is needed, we will do it, but the documentation has been presented. It's a decision that LaLiga must make. We have complied with everything they require and we are confident that they will be able to sign up."

He added: "The second sale of Barca Studios was approved because we had foreseen it. As a precaution and in anticipation of divergence in some interpretations, we have done it. To have the foresight.

"We had already planned to do the fourth lever, if it also serves to consolidate registrations better. Barca has entered these two months and operations worth 868million euros. We have positive funds, a healthy balance sheet and results also because we have made profits.

"We have made a great effort, we have had to carry out operations to sell some assets, always in a controlled manner."

Laporta revealed that Lewandowski had to be assured his move to Barcelona would not collapse.

"When an agreement was reached with Bayern, we had a series of talks," he said.

"Robert and his agent were concerned about whether we could register him, but I gave them comfort and told them that if we had to register one Robert would be the first. There were other clubs that offered more money and more salary to the player."

Prolific striker Lewandowski has taken the number nine shirt that Memphis Depay wore last year, but Laporta does not feel Barca have been disrespectful to the Netherlands international.

He said: "The number nine thing was a club decision. For reasons that interest the club, for image and publicity reasons. We have considered an appropriate decision and we have made it with all respect for Memphis."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta suggested the club's spending may not be overnand hinted at a move for reported target Bernardo Silva should head coach Xavi request it.

The Manchester City midfielder has been linked with a move to Camp Nou as a potential replacement for Frenkie de Jong, who is rumoured to be of interest to Manchester United and Chelsea.

Barca have already signed Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde during the transfer window, though questions had been raised whether the club would be able to register them.

Speaking at a media conference to present Kounde after his move from Sevilla, Laporta explained the current situation around player registration, stating: "We are optimistic. We are doing everything possible to register the new purchases.

"I hope that the interpretation we give of the regulation is the same as [LaLiga]. There is time until August 13."

When asked if the club would be looking to add Silva as well, he replied: "First we have to register the players, then we will see what to do if the coach [Xavi] asks for more reinforcements."

The club also announced it had activated a third economic lever in order to try and register their new arrivals.

A statement on the Barca website on Monday read: "FC Barcelona announces the sale of 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios to the company Socios.com for €100million to accelerate the club's audiovisual, blockchain, NFT and Web.3 strategy.

"The sale has been made in accordance with the authorisation of the General Assembly of FC Barcelona Members held last October 23."

Barca, who had reportedly been €1.3billion in debt, had relied on two economic levers so far, the first seeing the Catalan giants sell 10 per cent of their LaLiga broadcasting rights to American investment firm Sixth Street.

The second reported involved transferring a further 15 per cent of their television rights to Sixth Street for the next 25 years, supposedly raising more than €500m from both.

Frenkie de Jong has a "strong possibility" of staying at Barcelona despite intense interest from Manchester United, according to Joan Laporta. 

United have been chasing the Barca midfielder since hiring his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag as their new manager, but De Jong is understood not to be keen on missing out on Champions League football by making the switch. 

The Netherlands international is said to be owed €17million in deferred wages and being asked to sign a new contract with a salary reduction of around 40 per cent. 

Selling De Jong would significantly improve Barcelona's hopes of successfully registering new arrivals like Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde and making further moves in the market. 

However, Laporta suggested the most likely outcome is that De Jong will stay put – even if he cannot be tied down to a new contract on reduced terms. 

"The first thing to say is we want Frenkie to stay at Barcelona. We love the player and him as a human being. I want him to stay at Barcelona. He's a high-quality player and a good guy. I also know that he wants to stay," Laporta told CBS. 

"In football, you never know. I can't say categorically [he won't join United]. It all depends on the different parties. But in principle, I can say there is a strong possibility he stays, and I can say as president I will do my best for him to stay at Barcelona. 

"All we are doing with Frenkie is the same as the rest of the squad. The signings coming in have adjusted their salary to the new structure. But Frenkie has a contract and we respect that. We can't force him to take a pay cut. It's his decision. 

"We have explained the situation and are grateful to any players who can help us. It was the same with [Ousmane] Dembele, and I am very grateful to him. And after months of talks, he accepted a renegotiation of his salary and he can be proud of his decision." 

Asked what will happen if De Jong refuses a new deal and stays at Barca, Laporta replied: "Then he will continue. He has a contract. We will respect that decision. For us, he's a Barcelona player. We count on him." 

Barca sold off a percentage of their TV revenue for the next 25 years to help get them out of a financial hole, but their decision to use the funds raised to sign players instead of pay off deferred wages has come in for criticism. However, Laporta feels the approach is justified. 

"The club has a payroll that's 40 per cent higher than our competitors'. We have to reduce this, and it's not easy. But the players we are talking about – who have taken pay cuts – all love Barca.  

"To me, the players we have signed this summer are investments, not expenses. And our existing players understand this perfectly. The new signings adjust their salaries to the new structure that we have created and all we ask is the current squad, where possible, do the same. 

"People outside the club don't have all the information. We have to act this way or the club will probably disappear." 

Bayern Munich's Julian Nagelsmann has no problem with being accused of "ignorance" by Joan Laporta as the Barcelona president "has to represent his club."

Nagelsmann questioned Barca's spending spree after they signed Robert Lewandowski from Bayern this month for a fee that could rise to €50million.

Barca had to let Lionel Messi leave a year ago due to their financial crisis, but they have also signed Raphinha and Jules Kounde for big fees ahead of the 2022-23 season, while bringing in Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie on free transfers.

Bayern head coach Nagelsmann stated that Barca are "the only club in the world that can buy players without money" after Lewandowski's switch to Spain.

Laporta responded by stating that Nagelsmann was being ignorant, adding that rival clubs should mind their own business.

Questioned about Laporta's comments ahead of Bayern's DFL-Supercup showdown with RB Leipzig, Nagelsmann told reporters: "It's good that he expresses himself, I would do that too.

"It was just a question from a fan point of view. I have no problem with Laporta speaking out, he has to represent his club."

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte also recently suggested Nagelsmann had been "disrespectful" by expressing his admiration for Harry Kane amid reports the Bundesliga champions could make a move for the England captain.

Nagelsmann says he has a good relationship with Conte, however, as he defended himself for giving honest answers.

He said: "I'll always give my opinion in the future. I don't write down all my answers before the press conference.

"It's coming spontaneously, that's maybe not always the smartest thing. I don't have a problem with Conte or Laporta responding back, that's part of the game.

"It wasn't a dramatic statement, I have a good relationship with Conte."

 

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