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Manchester United icon Gary Neville says he does ‘not care’ if Frenkie de Jong does not sign for the Red Devils, but felt obliged to speak up about a situation in which he believes Barcelona are ‘bullying’ the Dutchman. United have chased De Jong all summer but are struggling to complete a deal for the player despite agreeing a fee with Barca.
Part of the issue is that the midfielder is owed between £14million and £17m in deferred wages. But cash-strapped Barca are reluctant to pay him that money even though they have spent around £150m on summer signings like Jules Kounde, Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha.
It prompted Neville to tweet last week that the 25-year-old should seek legal advice against Barca. He wrote: “De Jong should consider legal action [versus] Barcelona and all players should be behind him!
“A club spending fortunes on new players whilst not paying the ones they have under contract their full money is immoral and a breach. [world players’ union] FIFPRO should be all over bullying like this and stop it.”
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Neville’s tweet went down badly with Barca fans, but the former United defender cannot fathom how the Spanish giants can offer to spend big money on new players but will not pay up deferred salaries. The 46-year-old even said he does not care if United’s pursuit of De Jong fails.
“Barcelona fans are battering me at the moment. But I find it unpalatable that they owe players at the club tens and tens of millions in wages. They spent £155m, the wages they’re paying to [Jules] Kounde, [Robert] Lewandowski and Raphinha are off the scale and they’re selling all their TV rights,” Neville, speaking on the Overlap in partnership with SkyBet, said.
“So, they can do all these things but they are bullying De Jong. I don’t care if he comes to United or not, I genuinely don’t. I want him to because I think he’s a good player – but for me, if he doesn’t come, no problem. We’ll go with what we’ve got.
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“They’ve deferred his wages, he’s helped the club – well done to him, it was Covid, every club was struggling. He’s obviously shown that he’s a team player. At the point whereby he goes into his big wages to get it paid back, they basically want to try and sell him and probably are trying to push him out the door.
“But they’re saying to him that he won’t get those deferred wages while they’re taking a £55 million or £75 million fee, or whatever it is, from Manchester United. That’s just wrong! And then you go and spend money on Lewandowski at the same time. That’s why I’ve spoken up in the last few weeks.
“I love Barcelona as a football club, it’s unbelievable. It’s not against Barcelona… they might not have broken a rule yet, but morally they’ve broken the rule because they’ve suggested to the player that if he leaves, they won’t pay him that money. The wages that he’s been paid for the last year or two are championship wages.”
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