Frenkie de Jong has been advised by FC Barcelona to cancel his contract and has been threatened with legal action.
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According to The Athletic, FC Barcelona have informed midfielder Frenkie de Jong that they wish to cancel his current contract and return to his previous arrangement because they believe the terms awarded to him by the club’s previous president Josep Bartomeu involved criminal activity and have provided them with grounds for legal action against all parties involved in the deal.
De Jong has been the subject of a lengthy transfer saga this summer, with Barcelona reportedly accepting a €85 million ($86.7 million) offer from Manchester United on July 14.
However, due to the Red Devils’ lack of Champions League football and a desire to succeed under new Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez, the Dutchman refused to leave the club.
In recent weeks, the Catalans appear to have changed their minds and are now looking for ways to keep him.
With $1.5 billion in debt, Barcelona needs De Jong to follow a new club policy that prohibits any first-team squad member from earning more than €10 million ($10.2 million) per year.
According to SPORT on Monday morning, De Jong is apparently hesitant to do so after previously taking a pay cut and deferring portions of his salary.
De Jong is set to earn €18 million ($18.4 million) next season and €88.58 million ($90.2 million) over the next four years of his contract as part of an agreement reached under the watch of reigning president Joan Laporta’s predecessor Bartomeu.
However, according to The Athletic, Barcelona informed De Jong on July 15 – less than 24 hours after he accepted United’s offer – that they had discovered “evidence of criminal actions on behalf of the parties” who signed his renewal on October 20, 2020.
With Barcelona still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, De Jong agreed to a two-year extension to his contract signed when he joined from Ajax in 2019.
This resulted in his salary being reduced for the final two seasons in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, leaving €18million ($18.3m) to be spread out over the next four seasons, with the owed sum cited as another reason for refusing to join Manchester United.
Barcelona is said to have informed De Jong in a letter that they have grounds “to initiate criminal proceedings to establish what happened in relation to the signing of his contract and ascertain where responsibility resides for the alleged wrongdoing.”
As a result, Barcelona appears to want to cancel the agreement and then offer De Jong a new contract under the terms he agreed to in 2019 to assist them in navigating Financial Fair Play rules and registering new players amid a strict La Liga salary cap.
According to the Athletic, Bartomeu’s board is confident in the legality of De Jong’s 2020 contract, which they claim was approved by legal parties as well as La Liga.
According to The Athletic, there has also been additional dialogue between Barcelona and De Jong, during which Laporta’s board has warned De Jong and his camp that they may also be implicated in criminal allegations.
De Jong made an impressive second-half cameo against Pumas UNAM in the Joan Gamper Trophy match on Sunday, scoring Barca’s final goal in a 6-0 thrashing of their Mexican opponents.