Latest Football News From Manchester: Manchester United might revisit Sir Alex Ferguson comment in Barcelona transfer talks – Tyrone Marshall

Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob? Jesus Christ, no chance. I wouldn't sell them a virus,” was Ferguson's take on talk in Spain a deal had been already been agreed.

Of course, a deal was agreed the following summer, but the vitriol that passed Ferguson's lips made his disdain for Real and the way they had approached signing Ronaldo clear.

This had been a bitter transfer tussle and Real used every tool in the book to try and prize their man away from Old Trafford, including a public courtship designed to unsettle the player which ended with Ronaldo claiming he was being treated like a slave by being made to stay at United.

Transfers are more regularly played out in the public domain now and a dozen years later Ronaldo is again trying to engineer a move away from United.

But that is not the transfer saga that has dominated the agenda at Old Trafford for most of this summer. Instead, that is their attempts to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona, with talks over a deal now approaching the three-month mark.

Once this interminable saga comes to an end there might be a few United executives ready to repurpose Ferguson's statement and aim it at Spain's other marquee club.

Barcelona have been the central force in this transfer window and United are far from the only club to be riled by them. Chelsea have missed out on several transfer targets to a club mired in debt, who are remortgaging for tomorrow to pay for today.

That is only kicking the can down the road and the feeling persists that at some point there is going to be a day of reckoning at the Nou Camp and it is not going to be pretty.

They have now spent around 140million on five players this summer – without being able to register any of them to actually play in La Liga at the moment – despite debts that recently amounted to more than 1billion and pushed them close to the brink.

To fund this spending spree they have renegotiated some debts and sold stakes in future revenues. A tenth of their La Liga TV rights have been flogged to investment firm Sixth Street and just under half of their licensing and merchandising arm could yet go under the hammer.

President Joan Laporta has called this their “economic levers” for a summer of spending to boost Xavi's squad, but it is very much a short-term fix and even quicker fixes are still required. Players have to be sold and there are several who are surplus to requirements.

De Jong might not be in that category, but he is a saleable asset and Barcelona are ready to cash in on the 25-year-old, with a new midfield from the club's academy flourishing.

United had agreed an outline deal for the player a few weeks ago, but that has since been held up over an issue with deferred wages that De Jong is owed and – quite rightly – wants. But in Barcelona's world, nothing is quite as simple.

Laporta has said several times they want the Dutch midfielder to stay, despite hawking him around Europe and Xavi playing him at centre-back in pre-season.

Yesterday, the Barcelona president hinted that De Jong needed to accept further pay restrictions if he really wanted to remain with the club.

“Frenkie is a Barca player,” Laporta said. “We want him to stay, he wants to stay. Weve received important bids for him but hes our player. You know salary budget situation; so we will do our best to keep Frenkie at Barca. I hope hell do the same.”

United are standing back for now as De Jong tries to sort the salary issue out with Barcelona. There has been speculation in Spain that he doesn't want to come to Old Trafford, but the club haven't spent 12 weeks working on a transfer without being given assurances that a move is a possibility.