Frenkie de Jong has insisted he wants to stay at Barcelona for another decade despite the ongoing tension between the midfielder and the club’s board.
De Jong, 25, resisted summer interest from Manchester United and Chelsea among others to stay at Barca, who would have been open to letting him go if the transfer helped ease their financial problems.
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The Netherlands international then began the season out of the side but has won his place back in Xavi Hernandez’s team and started seven of the eight games before the World Cup, only sitting out the dead rubber in the Champions League against Viktoria Plzen.
“I am very happy in Barcelona,” De Jong told De Telegraaf ahead of the Netherlands’ opening game at the World Cup in Qatar against Senegal on Monday.
“When I play, it’s great, and in terms of living there, life is perfect. I see myself at Barcelona for as long as possible. I would personally hope for another eight or 10 years.”
Barca held talks with United in the summer, with club sources telling ESPN that if De Jong did not agree to a salary reduction — his wages increase over time due to accepting a large deferral on payments during the pandemic — they would have been forced to consider transferring him.
The Catalan club even sent De Jong’s camp a letter questioning the legality of his contract, signed under previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu. The details of his terms were also leaked to the media in Spain.
“I blame these people [the Barca hierarchy], but I have nothing to do with them,” De Jong added, speaking in detail for the first time about the furore that surrounded his future in the off-season.
“Yes, they are Barca, for me, because they run the club. But I don’t see them when I’m at the club. I have nothing to do with them in my daily life.
“One day, a paper published my contract details. I didn’t leak it and only one other party knew [the details], so it had to be the club who did this.
“And suddenly, there was a letter in which the question was asked whether my contract was still valid, because the previous president made the contract. I found it really annoying that the club did this.”
De Jong’s comments drew an immediate response from one of Barca president Joan Laporta’s advisors, Enric Masip, who is also part of the sporting committee working alongside Mateu Alemany and Jordi Cruyff.
Masip launched a staunch defence of Laporta, saying he had fought to keep De Jong at the club, even though the player never referenced the president by name.
“I can say with knowledge of the facts that the person at the club who most defended the continuity of Frenkie de Jong was Joan Laporta,” Masip posted on Twitter.
“He never considered selling him. NEVER — even with the club’s delicate [financial] situation.”
Despite the continued friction with the club’s hierarchy, De Jong said he remains happy at Barca, who he joined from Ajax in 2019, and says he does not hold anything against Xavi, who did not explicitly back him to stay.
“I never got the feeling that Xavi was against me,” De Jong said. “To the media, he said that he was happy with me but that there were also the financial [issues] at the club to consider.
“I think it was difficult for him to speak about it. He is not the one making these decisions. He left the possibility of me leaving open because he never came out and said: ‘Frenkie is staying no matter the financial situation,’ but I don’t put the blame on Xavi.”