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'You're not right!' - Laporta fires back at Neville in De Jong pay-cut row as Man Utd transfer remains possible

12:11 GMT+3 30/07/2022
Frenkie de Jong Barcelona
The Barca president offered the very latest on the Dutchman's future as he remains in limbo at Camp Nou

Joan Laporta has issued a reply to Gary Neville after his comments about Frenkie de Jong needing to take a pay cut. The Barcelona president was unimpressed by the former Manchester United defender's comments and although he claims he wants the Dutchman to stay, he wouldn't rule out a transfer to the Red Devils.

What’s the very latest on De Jong?

De Jong's future remains up in the air.

Manchester United have been interested in signing him all summer although have yet to agree a deal with the Catalans, with De Jong having insisted that he would prefer to stay at Barca.

Indeed, the Catalans would like to retain De Jong, although have requested that he takes a pay cut - something that many of his team-mates have already done.

In an interview with CBS Sports, Laporta reiterated that he wants De Jong to remain at Camp Nou, although he kept the door ajar for United to potentially complete a transfer.

He said: "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 in Barcelona. He's a high-quality player and a good guy. I also know that he wants to stay."

Asked what would happen if De Jong refused to lower his salary, Laporta added: "Then he will continue. He has a contract. We will respect that decision. For us, he's a Barcelona player. We count on him.

"In football, you never know. I can't say categorically [he won't join Manchester 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."

Laporta also denied that he'd offered De Jong to Chelsea.

Will De Jong take a pay cut?

On the issue of a pay cut, with Ousmane Dembele having been the latest to slash his salary in order to continue at Camp Nou, Laporta added: "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 are trying to manage the football club in a prudent and sustainable way. So we have to have these talks and we do so in a calm and considerate way.

"We have explained the situation and are grateful to any players who can help us. It was the same with 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.

"The club has a payroll that's 40% 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.

"They reduced their salaries for the love of the club. All the players, new and old, understand the constraints. And they want to be artists who bring Barcelona back. They are aware they can be part of one of the most splendorous periods in the club's history."

Laporta replies to Gary Neville

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has expressed his outrage at Barca on multiple occasions in recent times, taking issue with their treatment of De Jong.

Indeed, Neville, who has called the Liga side a "disgrace", even urged the Dutchman to take legal action against his club amid a pay dispute that has resulted in De Jong being owed  €17 million (£14.5m/$17m) in deferred salary payments.

Offering a reply to Neville, Laporta said: "No answer. I respect his opinion. But in my opinion, he's not right because I insist we are respecting all our players. We follow the contracts. If we invest in new players it's to make the club more competitive.

"It's a circle. You invest in new players, the fans engage and that in turn improves our economy. Gary has been a very good football player for Manchester United. I respect his opinion and that's all I have to say."