Barcelona’s perfect romance with Frenkie de Jong was on the edge of oblivion last summer, as rumours swirled and the club seemed to all but openly put him up for sale. However de Jong dug in and refused to move anywhere, leading to something of a tricky situation.
Last month de Jong spoke publicly about the pressure he had received from the club via the press, including accusing them of leaking his contract.
Talking to Sport, Sporting Director Jordi Cruyff told the Catalan paper that any talk of selling de Jong was in the past now.
“Today, that is not being talked about. In football there are moments and sometimes they are not defined only by football issues… The fair play situation… Not everyone understands what it is, every week there are changes, but there are situations and decisions that are not only football. But time has passed and he is playing an important role.”
He was also asked if he felt he had been called out by de Jong during the Dutchmen’s comments. Cruyff was on a tone of reconciliation.
“It is not a matter of alluded to or not, the players have their feelings, the clubs have theirs and some talk and you come to a common ground. The reality is that Frenkie has stayed, he is a beloved player, people expect a lot from him because he is very talented and a slightly different player.”
“These are moments in the market and not just with Frenkie, but with everyone, there is a fair play and the consequences of not complying with it are enormous and there are calculations that have nothing to do with the pitch. It is an accumulation of things and you do some calculations. There is nothing more to it. Fair play forces you to make decisions.”
While he does not confirm openly, Cruyff’s own allusion to being forced into decisions is as good as an admittance that de Jong’s exit was considered by the club.
Vice-President Enric Masip had previously denied that President Joan Laporta had always been an advocate for de Jong’s continuity. The very specific mention of Laporta, rather than the club, perhaps hints that other elements of the board might have been augering for a sale. While Laporta is the public face of Barcelona, often there are various political machinations going on behind the scenes at Camp Nou.