Frenkie de Jong has hinted his relationship with Barcelona remains less than perfect but is adamant he never wanted to leave the club during a tumultuous summer that saw him linked with both Manchester United and Chelsea.
The Catalan giants, desperate to recoup some of the money they spent during an ambitious recruitment drive, effectively handed De Jong an ultimatum to leave or take a major pay cut.
United, managed by De Jong’s former mentor at Ajax, Erik ten Hag, tabled a £72million bid for the 25-year-old but De Jong was reluctant to move to Old Trafford on account of their absence from the Champions League.
Chelsea, meanwhile, sensed an opportunity themselves but were unable to convince the Netherlands international to commit himself to Todd Boehly’s rebuilding project at Stamford Bridge.
Ultimately, De Jong ended up staying at Barcelona and although he has featured regularly this season, he is not a guaranteed starter in Xavi’s side and admitted he is far from satisfied with playing a bit-part role.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s Nations League game against Poland, he said: ‘I played 8 games this season from which I started four games.
‘In the biggest game, against Bayern Munich, I came on as a sub but I want to play from the beginning. I just have to make sure that I recover my starting spot.’
At the height of the speculation over his future, Barcelona effectively led a smear campaign against De Jong following his refusal to take a pay cut which led to his own fans booing him.
Asked if his relationship with Barcelona’s hierarchy had been resolved, De Jong said pointedly: ‘Between me and my teammates nothing has changed.’
Pushed on whether he ever considered moving to the Premier League, meanwhile, he added: ‘I already decided in May that I wanted to stay at Barcelona and I never changed this decision.
‘There are so many programs and papers who make things up. Look, a lot has happened and yes things were a little troubled, but my own decision was clear from the start.’
Speaking at a press conference earlier, De Jong also admitted that his lack of playing time this season has impacted negatively on his fitness heading into November’s World Cup and again hinted at the difficulties the uncertainty of the summer provided.
‘When I play less, I do notice it,’ he said. ‘Not really in terms of the technical aspect because you still know how to play football, but more so in the physical aspect.
‘I can’t give too much details away. But look.. the club has it’s own idea’s and I have my own idea’s too and sometimes this clashes with each other.
‘But at the end of the day things went okay.’
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