Frenkie de Jong might have been selected to go on Barcelona’s pre-season tour of the United States, but he may have wished he had stayed at home.
The Dutchman is at the centre of a protracted transfer saga involving Manchester United.
Having initially insisted De Jong is not for sale, Barcelona reached full agreement with United for a €75m + €10m fee and told the player he must leave.
However, being settled in Cataluyna and being owed €17 million in back pay by the Blaugrana, De Jong has so far refused to leave.
As United wait and hope, the 25 year old has gone on Barça’s pre-season tour of the States after president Joan Laporta declared it was up to head coach Xavi whether his player should travel.
But in the first match of the tour, a 6-0 thrashing of Inter Miami, De Jong was not selected in the starting XI, signalling an intention on the part of the coaching staff to start making plans without him.
But the real ignominy came in the second half, when wholesale changes were made as is the norm in warm-up matches such as these.
De Jong finally got to take the field, but was made to play as a centre half alongside Ronald Araujo (source: AS).
It is unknown whether instructions to make life uncomfortable for the Dutchman came from on high, whether this was Xavi’s decision or whether it was that of Oscar Hernandez, who was coaching the team in Xavi’s absence (the latter was not allowed entry to the USA due to having worked in Iran).
Whatever the case, it will certainly be perceived as a smack in the face and bullying of the worst order.
Barça are desperate to sell the star as they have several new signings that they cannot register to play until the payroll is reduced. De Jong is one of the club’s biggest earners.
Meanwhile, dubious reports once again are claiming Chelsea are considering a late challenge for the player, with a bid to come “in hours”, according to obscure Spanish publication Relevo via The (ever eager to stir the pot) Mirror.