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De Jong slams 'lies' over salary, Barça future

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Published in Soccer
Tuesday, 20 February 2024 11:51

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong says he's angry and irritated by the "lies" he says have been reported about his future.

De Jong, 26, has been at the centre of various stories in recent months, with claims he could leave Barça this summer as the Catalan club look to offload his salary from their wage bill.

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However, the Dutch international, who has a contract until 2026, insists he remains happy at Barça and has hit out at the local media.

"Recently I am a little angry with what the press write in general," De Jong said in a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League game against Napoli.

"A lot of stuff that is not true has come out. I can't understand it, people reporting lies. It's irritating me a little.

"For example, [the media] speak a lot about my contract, my salary etc ... it's a lot of smoke, a lot of lies, that I'm earning 40 million or whatever. That is a long way from what I earn -- I won't say numbers, but a story has been invented that is not true.

"[The media] must change what they are doing to many coaches and players, because you are writing things and inventing things that are not true.

"I am really happy at Barça, I have always said it. This is the club of my dreams, I hope I can play here for many more years."

The pattern of stories is similar to 2022, when Barça were open to letting De Jong leave the club with Manchester United among those interested.

A lot of stories were published about his salary at the time, with De Jong later complaining that the club's hierarchy were behind the leaks.

Despite all the noise, De Jong says he still enjoys playing for Barça.

"I consider the club to be my teammates, the dressing room, the people I work with, the staff," he added.

"That's all great, 10/10. I am enjoying myself a lot. If people are saying I am not playing well, I am not up to Barça's level or whatever, I don't mind, but we have to stop the lies.

"[The media] are writing a lot of things that are not true. Why? Why are they inventing things?"

Barça coach Xavi Hernández, who has also criticised the media this season and will step down at the end of the campaign, said he understands De Jong's frustrations.

"I understand Frenkie perfectly," he said. "Anyone at Barça feels it because a lot of lies are reported. I get it.

"For me, he's a fundamental player -- for me and for many years for Barça. I know he's happy here and he's very important for my system."

De Jong joined Barça from Ajax in 2019 for an initial 75m and has gone on to make over 200 appearances for the club.

He was speaking ahead of Barça's first Champions League knockout tie since 2021 when they play away at Napoli in the first leg of their round of 16 tie this week.

João Félix and Sergi Roberto both return from injury for the game, with Gavi, Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso and Ferran Torres the only players still sidelined.

They face a Napoli team who sacked manager Walter Mazzarri on Monday, replacing him with Francesco Calzona.

"Napoli have changed coach 24 hours before the game in a surprising manner," Xavi added. "With the change of coach, we don't know what will happen in the tie.

"But they are the current Italian champions and a tough opponent. Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia are top level players, for example, but this is the perfect setting for us to produce a big performance and we're hopeful of reaching the quarterfinal."

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