Manchester United's hopes of signing Frenkie De Jong have been dealt a setback after Barcelona president Joan Laporta insisted the club has no interest in selling the Dutch midfielder.
Talks over a transfer for De Jong have reportedly been ongoing for several weeks between the two clubs, and it was reported last week that a breakthrough had been achieved after United offered an initial up front fee of €65 million ($66.7m) plus add-ons that could take the overall deal to €85m.
A move to United would see De Jong reunite with former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag.
However, Laporta has taken a defiant stance by claiming Barcelona have no interest in selling the 25-year-old Netherlands international.
"De Jong is a Barca player and unless we have a need or interest in selling him, we don't want to sell him," Laporta said at Barca's unveiling of Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie on Wednesday.
"We know he has offers. If at some moment we were interested, we would consider it, but right now, we're not selling the player."
Any deal for De Jong has reportedly been further complicated by wages owed to the player by Barcelona. According to reports, De Jong agreed to reduce his annual £12m salary by £9.4m in the 2020/21 season and by £4.3m in 2021/22 to help ease some of the financial burden on the club, which was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Barcelona therefore reportedly owe De Jong around £13.7m in deferred wages.
Laporta also provided an update on the future of French forward Ousmane Dembele, who is currently a free agent after his Barca contract expired at the end of last month and has been linked with a move to Chelsea.
Dembele was for a long time expected to leave Barcelona, with the club previously eager to cut their losses on a player they paid Borussia Dortmund an initial €105m for in 2017 but who often struggled with fitness and disciplinary issues.
However, after Dembele emerged as a key player under manager Xavi Hernandez last season, Barca have changed their view and hope the 25-year-old commits his future to the club.
"Ousmane is no longer a Barca player, but we made him an offer," Laporta said. "He hasn't accepted it yet, but he wants to continue talking. We're going to carry on speaking, at least for now."