Manchester United are still keen on signing Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona (Getty)
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has refused to rule out the prospect of Manchester United signing Frenkie de Jong this summer.
Erik ten Hag has made De Jong his top target for United and the club have agreed a €85 million (£71.7m) deal with Barca.
But De Jong’s preference is to remain at Camp Nou and is not sold on the idea of joining United primarily due to their lack of Champions League football.
Another complication is that Barca owe the 25-year-old around €17m (£14m) in wages after he agreed to defer part of his salary to help the club’s financial situation.
United have still not given up hope of signing De Jong this summer and while Laporta says he wants De Jong to stay, he admits the Netherlands international could still be sold.
Asked if he is able to confirm that De Jong won’t join United, Laporta told CBS Sports: ‘In football, you never know.
‘I can’t say categorically. 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.’
Frenkie de Jong’s preference is to remain at Barcelona this summer (AMA/Getty)
When asked what will happen if De Jong does not accept a pay cut, Laporta said: ‘Then he will continue. Has has a contract. We will respect that decision.
‘For us, he’s a Barcelona player. We count on him.
‘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.
‘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.’
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Asked if he has offered De Jong to Chelsea during his dinner with the club’s new co-owner Todd Boehly, Laporta replied: ‘No, no, no.
‘We had a very nice dinner in Barcelona and we talked in general about football.
‘He is a very successful businessman. He is involved in sport with the Lakers and Dodgers and now with Chelsea. He looks like a man who knows what he wants to do and it was a very nice dinner.’
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