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Frenkie de Jong’s agents arrive in Barcelona ahead of crunch talks

Frenkie de Jong‘s agents have arrived in Barcelona amid continue uncertainty over the midfielder’s future at the club, with Manchester United and Chelsea still pursuing his signing.

Barca sent a letter to De Jong’s camp in July warning that the contract renewal he signed in 2020 under the previous board had alleged irregularities. According to the news that Barca was intended to put pressure on De Jong to either accept a move away or agree a wage reduction.

Ali Dursun and Hasan Cetinkaya, who also represent Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite, flew into the city on Wednesday and are expected to hold talks with the Catalan club in the coming days over both of their clients.

De Jong’s future has been the subject of much attention throughout the summer. It was revealed in July that Barca had agreed a fee of around €85 million with United, including add-ons, while Chelsea are also interested.

However, the player has so far preferred to remain at Camp Nou.

Barca, meanwhile, have told De Jong that if he wants to stay, he must reduce his salary, although sources have told us he is reluctant to do so at this stage.

Sources confirmed to us earlier this week that Barca sent a letter to De Jong’s camp in July warning that the contract renewal he signed in 2020 under the previous board had alleged irregularities.

Sources close to the player said the contract is legal and claim the letter that Barca sent was intended to put pressure on De Jong to either accept a move away or agree a wage reduction.

Barca’s board believe there were possible irregularities in other renewals signed at the same time by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet.

However, the timing of Barca’s tactics has drawn questions as they try to raise funds and reduce their wage bill to be able to register their summer signings.

Despite that, De Jong remains happy in Barcelona with his girlfriend and scored in Sunday’s 6-0 friendly win over Mexican side Pumas UNAM at Camp Nou.

Still, the uneasy situation was highlighted when De Jong arrived at training on Wednesday and was subjected to shouted abuse by some Barcelona fans, who called on him to accept a reduced salary.

Dursun and Cetinkaya also represent Braithwaite, who has been told by Barca to find a new club. The Denmark striker was left out of the squad for the tour of the United States last month and has not featured in preseason.

Braithwaite, 31, was even jeered by Barca supporters before Sunday’s game against Pumas. Sources have told us he is open to leaving the club, who he joined as an emergency signing from Leganes for €20m in 2020, but only if the offer is right for him.

Meanwhile, Barca continue to negotiate further wage adjustments with Pique and Sergio Busquets. Sources have said talks have gone well so far.

Both players, along with Jordi Alba, agreed pay cuts last summer to enable Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero to be registered, and they may have to do the same this year.

With Barca set to kick off the new LaLiga season on Saturday against Rayo Vallecano, none of their five signings have been registered with the Spanish league, nor have the new contracts signed by Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto.

The club have so far sold assets worth over €600m and are now in a position to register some of their signings. However, a league source told us more money must be raised — or wages cut — before Saturday to register everyone.

Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt to win fifth UEFA Super Cup

Goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a fifth UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.

While Frankfurt were dangerous, particularly in the first half, Madrid’s experience and individual quality saw them through, as it did so often in their victorious 2021-22 Champions League campaign.

Frankfurt had the best of the early stages, with Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois forced into a stunning anticipation save when one-on-one with Daichi Kamada in the 14th minute.

Madrid almost got there first, when Benzema released Vinicius to curl past Kevin Trapp in the penalty box, only for Tuta to clear the ball off the line.

With Madrid dominating possession, Frankfurt mounted several counter-attacks until Madrid launched a counter of their own in the 37th minute.

A diving Trapp got his fingertips to a goal-bound shot by Vinicius, pushing the ball out for a corner.

From the ensuing play, Benzema linked with Casemiro just next to the right post.

The Brazilian sucked in several Frankfurt defenders and a diving Trapp, before heading back to an unmarked Alaba who scored from close range.

After the goal, Madrid stepped it up a gear and should have gone 2-0 up, with Benzema uncharacteristically dragging the ball wide with the goal begging in the 41st minute.

Vinicius, Benzema connect

Madrid’s quality became more obvious in the second half, with Trapp saving a deflected Vinicius shot in the 54th minute and Casemiro hitting the crossbar with 61 minutes gone.

Borussia Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff had a chance saved just minutes later, before Vinicius and Benzema combined to put Madrid 2-0 up.

Vinicius skated down the left before slicing the ball back seemingly unsighted for the Frenchman to hammer home from the edge of the box.

Frankfurt fought hard in the closing stages but Madrid were able to dominate the game to win their fifth Super Cup from eight attempts.

The clash, in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium, was the first time these two sides had met in a European decider since 1960, when Madrid dismantled Frankfurt 7-3 through four goals to Ferenc Puskas and three to Alfredo di Stefano in the European Cup final.

The match also highlighted the growing gap between the Champions League and Europa League competitions, with Madrid being the ninth Champions League team to win the competition in the past 10 years.

Only city rivals Atletico Madrid have won the Super Cup when qualifying via a Europa League win in the past decade, having done so by beating Real in the 2018 edition.

In the 10 years before, Champions League and Europa League participants won five Super Cups each.

Frankfurt joined Hamburg (1977 and 1983), Dortmund (1997) and Bremen (1992) as losing Super Cup finalists from Germany, with only Bayern Munich (2013 and 2020) having won the showpiece event.

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Vinicius Jr. turns 22

Today Vinicius Junior turns 22. Since making his debut on 29 September 2018 against Atlético de Madrid, he has made 170 appearances and scored 37 goals. A skilled, quick and powerful player, he is often regarded as one of the best young players in the world. And today he will also start his fifth season at Real Madrid.

The Real Madrid’s best forward won six trophies with the team, one Champions League, two La Liga titles, two Spanish Super Cups and a Club World Cup. He also scored the winning goal in the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool and successfully helped Real Madrid win the 14th European Cup.