The summer transfer window is open for another two weeks and some clubs are still active in the market trying to buy the right players to strengthen their squads. Chelsea have made 5 signings this window taking their spending over 150 million pounds with Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Carney Chukwuemeka and Gabriel Slonina joining the West London club. Thomas Tuchel still wants to strengthen his side with atleast 2 more signings to wrap up the club’s transfer business before deadline day on 31st August.
Speaking ahead of the clash against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, the German reiterated that Chelsea still needs depth in their squad ahead of the new season. He said, “We could strengthen our squad in depth. It’s one thing that you wish for and it’s another that is possible. We are looking for top quality and top personalities.”
According to reports across England and Spain, Chelsea wants to sign Frenkie De Jong to strengthen their midfield this summer and are ready to meet Barcelona’s price tag of 80 million euros to sign the Dutchman. According to Fabrizio Romano, Todd Boehly and Thomas Tuchel are in love with De Jong. Chelsea have told Barcelona they are ready to pay whatever to sign the midfielder. The decision is up to the player.
Let’s analyze the whole transfer saga and whether De Jong will leave Barcelona.
Ugly situation between Frenkie De Jong & FC Barcelona
Frenkie De Jong is reluctant to leave Barcelona due to the ongoing dispute between the club and the player. He was signed from Ajax in the summer of transfer 2019 for 75 million euros on a long-term contract. The COVID-19 pandemic the following year impacted the footballing world drastically with clubs losing a lot of revenue money.
Barcelona were the club to have suffered the most due to the pandemic and the irresponsibility of the previous club’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu. The Spanish president reportedly rewarded players in the squad with massive wage bumps and spending astronomical transfer fees in the market on the likes of Coutinho, Dembele and Griezmann. The new club president Joan Laporta who was elected in 2020 has been tasked with fixing the financial situation of the club who can still face bankruptcy in the near future with a total debt close to 1 billion euros.
The new Barcelona board came up with a solution to fix the situation by reducing the squad’s wages due to the pandemic and deferring the wage payments over the players’ contracts at the club to balance the books and steer the club into financial stability. Frenkie, who is under contract until 2026, was offered a deferred wage contract which was way lesser than the club owes him(around 17 million euros) and was even asked to reduce his salary by 50% to make space in the wage bill to register new signings.
This contract dispute seems to be heading towards no solution with the player reluctant to leave the club until he is paid the entire wages he is owed and the club desperate to cash in on the midfielder to increase the transfer kitty.
According to David Ornstein of the Athletic, Barcelona have told De Jong they have evidence of criminality around the contract given by the old board and threatened legal action against the player and his representatives. It’s ironic that a footballing institution as massive as FC Barcelona have spent close to 160 million euros on new signings and have players in the squad who haven’t received their wages.
Manchester United’s failed pursuit
Since the beginning of the transfer window, Erik Ten Hag has been pushing the Manchester United board to sign De Jong who he coached during his time at Ajax. The Red Devils reportedly agreed to an 85 million euros fee plus add-ons with FC Barcelona only for the player to reject a move to the club.
According to sources, Frenkie is reluctant to join Manchester United as he wants to play for a Champions League club and does not see stability in the club’s sporting project. Ten Hag saw the 25-year-old as the perfect midfielder to slot into his system and provide defensive stability at the back. Despite pursuing an interest in the player and agreeing everything club-to-club, it doesn’t look likely Manchester United will get their man as the player isn’t convinced by the club’s ambitions in the long term.
Do Chelsea need another midfielder despite having 5 first-team midfielders in the squad?
Thomas Tuchel is blessed with the likes of N’golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Conor Gallagher, Ruben Loftus Cheek and Carney Chukwuemeka as his midfield pivot options for this season but in the long term, this might not be the case. Kante and Jorginho have just 1 year remaining on their current contracts and could be free agents next summer if the duo do not extend their stay at the club. The duo have both entered into their thirties while the former has failed to remain fit for the last 3 seasons with recurring injuries hampering the Frenchman’s progress. Jorginho’s future also seems unclear with the club ready to cash in on the Italian this summer.
Frenkie De Jong’s arrival would most likely be dependent on the futures of the duo. The player’s versatility to play as a lone CDM or as a double pivot in the middle of the park would suit Tuchel’s side perfectly. The 25-year-old hasn’t been at the same level in Spain as he was in the Netherlands with Ajax and could rediscover his form under Tuchel. De Jong will bring defensive solidity in the middle, press resistance and incredible passing range to London which ticks all the boxes the Blues are looking for in a midfielder to replace Kante/Jorginho.
If Chelsea manages to convince the player to leave FC Barcelona and cover the deferred wages the Spanish club owes De Jong, it would be an incredible deal Boehly will pull off which instantly puts the Blues as genuine title contenders for this season. There are still 2 weeks to complete the deal and the key factor which would decide the outcome of the deal will be De Jong’s change in stance to leave the Spanish club. Chelsea would have learned from the whole Lukaku saga last season and know that signing a player who isn’t entirely convinced about playing for the club can be a problem in the dressing room and cause unnecessary problems at the club.
Time will tell whether Barcelona convinces De Jong not to take legal action or the Dutchman decides to move to London.