Barcelona president Joan Laporta has issued a contract ultimatum to Ousmane Dembele while stating the club don't want to sell Frenkie de Jong this summer - despite being under huge financial pressure to do so.
The Catalan giants' debts have spiralled out of control in recent years, with huge contracts and extortionate transfer fees forked out on a number of players - many of whom have either left of the club or are likely to in order to balance the books.
Selling a percentage of television rights to raise money has been one of Barcelona's workarounds to their problems, but they've been unable to register new signings Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen because of their inflated wage bill - a problem they initially encountered when signing Ferran Torres from Manchester City in January.
Dembele is a long-term transfer target for Chelsea, and is already out of contract at Barca, while De Jong is Manchester United's primary transfer target. 90min understands that an agreement for the Dutchman is nearing and he could cost the Red Devils as much as €85m, if all bonus payments and add-ons are fulfilled.
But Laporta has backtracked in recent days over Barcelona's need to sell De Jong, stating the club have 'no intention' of letting him go, and he's reiterated that stance once more - claiming at the unveiling of Kessie that the club won't sell to United unless they want to.
Listen now to 90min's Talking Transfers podcast, with Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey, Harry Symeou & Toby Cudworth. On the latest show they discuss Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Manchester United, Newcastle preparing to break their transfer record for Moussa Diaby, Bayern Munich's interest in Chelsea target Matthijs de Ligt and more. Available on all audio platforms and the 90min YouTube channel.
If you can't see the podcast embed, click here to download the episode in full!
"He's a Barça player. And unless we have an interest in selling in the future, he's a Barça player," Laporta said of De Jong. "We don't want to sell him. We know he has offers. Now we don't want to sell, but it could interest us."
As for Dembele, who looked to have no future at the club at one point, Laporta confirmed he must accept Barcelona's latest contract offer - because he'll be leaving the club if he doesn't reduce his salary and comply with the club's needs.
Laporta said of his situation: "There is no decided date. We are in a situation of uncertainty because we work to sign and now we cannot sign. We work talking to players that interest us so that they wait for us until we can sign.
"Dembele has an offer, they have answered and we continue talking. And We are willing to continue talking until we are interested. If he does not accept our proposal, it cannot be. He has to accept it because if not, there is no interest on our part. We have to adapt the files to the salary scale that we have marked so that there are no imbalances.
"We don't have a hurry in the market, but we know that we can't let much time go by because maybe the players we are interested in will stop waiting".
Source : 90min