Joan Laporta responds to Gary Neville’s criticism over Frenkie de Jong treatment

Joan Laporta has responded to Gary Neville’s insistence that Frenkie de Jong should sue Barcelona, insisting that he is wrong to suggest legal action.

Neville’s comments were made following Barcelona’s signing of Jules Kounde this past week – the club’s fifth high profile transfer of the summer. The anger felt by Neville was due to Barca’s insistence on forking out money for new players while current players, like De Jong, are owed wages.

De Jong is said to be owed around £17m in wages due to Barcelona’s financial issues, and tweeting about this following the club’s transfer activity Neville said: “De Jong should consider legal action v Barcelona and all players should be behind him! A club spending fortunes on new players whilst not paying the ones they have under contract their full money is immoral and a breach.”

Speaking to CBS, Laporta responded to Neville saying that his assertions on Twitter were not correct.

“I respect his opinion,” he said. “But in my opinion he’s not right because I insist we are respecting all our players. We follow the contracts. If we invest in new players it’s to make the club more competitive. It’s a circle: You invest in new players, the fans engage and that in turn improves our economy.

“Gary has been a very good football player for Manchester United. I respect his opinion and that’s all I have to say.”

Laporta was also asked about claims from the Dutch players union chairman, Evgeniy Levchenko, that he was using ‘extortion tactics’ in his negotiations with De Jong.

“There is no extortion being used on Frenkie or anyone else,” he added. “I respect his opinion, but if talks between two parties counts as extortion then I think this guy is wrong.”

The president added: “The club has a payroll that’s 40% higher than our competitors. We have to reduce this and it’s not easy. But the players we are talking about — who have taken pay cuts — all love Barça. They reduced their salaries for the love of the club. All the players, new and old, understand the constraints. And they want to be artists who bring Barcelona back. They are aware they can be part of one of the most splendorous periods in the club’s history.”

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