Barcelona face frustration in the summer transfer market after Ajax warned them that starlet Frenkie de Jong is not for sale, according to reports.
De Jong, 21, has earned rave reviews for the Amsterdam giants. Such praise has not gone unnoticed by the La Liga champions , who have a history dating back to the 1970s with Johan Cruyff of plundering their best talent.
De Telegraaf stated Barca faced rejection on Sunday for the €40 million (Dh173.5m)-rated Netherlands Under-21 centre midfielder and centre-back when they initiated talks with Ajax director Marc Overmars and agent Ali Dursun. Not even an offer of loaning him back to the Eredivisie runners-up for 2018/19 could convince them to do a deal, with rival interest also being registered by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
Barca are eager to avoid a repeat of the ongoing situation where they appear to have been beaten to the signature of 17-year-old Santos prospect Rodrygo by Real Madrid.
De Jong contributed seven assists in 22 Eredivisie games during 2017/18, despite largely playing in defence.
Spain international winger Gerard Deulofeu has signed for Watford from Barcelona in a deal worth an initial €13 million.
The 24-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Vicarage Road, scoring once in seven Premier League appearances for the Hornets.
Deulofeu will now return to Hertfordshire on a five-year contract after Barcelona confirmed the transfer on Monday afternoon.
Announcing the deal on their website, the LaLiga champions thanked Deulofeu and wished him luck for the future, adding in a statement: “FC Barcelona and Watford FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of Gerard Deulofeu to the English club.
“They have agreed on a fee of €13 million, plus €4 million in variables. FC Barcelona will also receive a percentage of any future transfer operations to other clubs.”
Watford confirmed Deulofeu has signed a long-term deal, with chairman Scott Duxbury insisting the move shows the club are constantly striving to improve.
“We are very pleased to welcome Gerard back to Vicarage Road and thank FC Barcelona for their part in concluding this deal,” Duxbury told the club’s website.
“Our ambition to succeed and grow in the Premier League remains as strong as ever.”
A product of Barcelona’s academy, Deulofeu struggled to break into the first team at the Nou Camp and was loaned out to Everton.
He was a hit under Roberto Martinez at Goodison Park and, following a loan stint at Sevilla in 2014/15, was signed permanently by the Toffees.
Another loan opportunity presented itself in January 2017 as Deulofeu opted to join AC Milan on a temporary basis.
Strong showings in Milan convinced Barca to take up their buy-back option – but establishing himself in Catalonia would again be an impossible task for Deulofeu.
Yet another loan move was agreed, this time a Premier League return with Watford, who have now decided to take the player on a permanent deal.
The transfer window is well and truly open.
With the rumours growing in pace and volume during this ‘silly season’, it can be difficult and painstaking to separate the stories of some legitimacy from the rest of the white noise.
Fortunately, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do it for you.
Below, you’ll find some of the latest transfer news churned out of the rumour mill broken down and analysed for your benefit along with our calculated predictions.
Why it will happen: Los Blancos are set for a summer of change and Florentino Perez is likely to open his chequebook to support the club’s new manager, whoever that may be. An £88m (Dh433m) deal for the 23-year-old would be some statement.
Why it won’t happen: The Red Devils have not given up the ghost in their pursuit of the Serbian star, who is set to feature heavily at the World Cup. He could indeed favour a move to the Premier League.
Prediction: Milinkovic-Savic is definitely on the move and it is likely Lazio will sell to the highest bidder.
Rating – 8/10
Why it will happen: The Gunners are desperate for some defensive steel in the middle of the park and the 22-year-old very much fits the bill.
Why it won’t happen: It appears as though the main bones of this transfer are done and dusted.
Prediction: Torreira should complete his Arsenal switch after the World Cup as Unai Emery continues his rebuilding job in north London.
Rating – 9/10
Why it will happen: After missing out on Roberto Martinez’s Belgium World Cup squad, a big-money move will lift the 30-year-old’s spirits, and he apparently wants to stay in Serie A.
Why it won’t happen: He is still a key player for Roma and the Giallorossi have given no indications they want to allow him to move on.
Prediction: Nainggolan is likely to stay in Italy for at least another season.
Rating – 6/10