Barcelona have claimed that Frenkie de Jong is not for sale – even though Manchester United have a broad agreement in place to sign the midfielder.
Last week, United agreed a 65m euro (£56m) fee, plus add-ons, with Barca for the Netherlands international and that deal remains active.
But Barca president Joan Laporta said: “[De Jong] is a Barca player and unless we have a need or interest in selling him, we don’t want to sell him.”
De Jong joined from Ajax in 2019 for a fee of £65m plus £9.5m in variables, and signed a five-year contract. However, Barcelona may now need to sell high-earning players to balance the books.
BBC Sport understands an outline deal is in place with Premier League side United but progress towards completion has been slow.
A move to the Red Devils would reunite De Jong with his former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, who is taking charge in his first season at Old Trafford.
Laporta added: “We know he [De Jong] has offers. If at some moment we were interested, we would consider it, but right now, we’re not selling the player.”
A piece in the Spanish newspaper Marca might explain why the transfer for De Jong is taking so long.
It says the Dutchman agreed to a major restructuring of his Barcelona contract within an overall extension that was designed to help the La Liga giants through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Essentially, Marca says De Jong had his salary reduced to 3m euros in 2020-21 and 6m euros (£2.6m) last season. Starting from next season, he is due to earn 18m euros for the next three years – and 19m euros in the final year of his deal.
Evidently, if he was to leave for United now, De Jong would want some kind of compensation for the money he should have earned by now but hasn’t.