Manchester United have upped the ante in their bid to sign Frenkie de Jong, giving Barcelona until Friday to finally get the transfer over the line.
Now, though, the Spanish giants have come up with an ultimatum of their own, talkSPORT understands.
It has been said the LaLiga giants owe De Jong £17 million in unpaid wages, a result of a wage deferral the midfielder agreed to during the COVID pandemic in 2020.
De Jong is top of United boss Erik ten Hag’s transfer wish list, and it is understood the parties have agreed a £56m fee plus add-ons.
However, Barcelona’s financial struggles mean the deal – with negotiations beginning in May – has been delayed, and United are asking them to reach a conclusion by the weekend.
But talkSPORT’s transfer insider Alex Crook has revealed there’s another twist in the tale – and it’s quite bizarre.
“We know Richard Arnold and John Murtough [United’s CEO and director of football] traveled to Barcelona to hold talks with their Catalan counterparts,” Crook began on Tuesday’s White and Jordan show.
“The fee has been agreed, £56m up front with add-ons. The big stumbling block is this £17m that Barcelona owes Frenkie de Jong in unpaid wages.
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“Clearly he wants that settled before really engaging in talks with Manchester United.
“And it’s been suggested to me that what Barcelona really wants is Manchester United to make some kind of financial contribution to those unpaid wages, which will be quite an extraordinary turn of events.”
Crook also reiterated that De Jong has not closed the door on a move to United, despite the financial hurdles in the way and his apparent preference to remain at the Nou Camp.
“De Jong, in an ideal world, would want to stay at Barcelona, I think that remains his preferred option,” he added.
“I think that’s different to saying he doesn’t want to join Manchester United.”
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