Man Utd hold talks with alternative midfielders in case De Jong deal collapses

Manchester United are prepared to walk away from a deal for Frenkie de Jong and have held talks with alternative midfield targets, according to reports.

New manager Erik ten Hag has made signing former Ajax charge De Jong his top transfer priority this summer, but Barcelona are playing hardball over a fee and will not accept less than £70million – roughly what they paid three years ago.

But United are not prepared to pay that much for the 25-year-old, valuing him at closer to £60m, and the deal could collapse if a transfer fee cannot be agreed.

According to the Manchester Evening News, United are adamant they will not overpay for De Jong and there are even suggestions that Barca could value him at as much as £85m.

Football director John Murtough has held talks with his Barcelona counterparts but as things stand an agreement looks unlikely and United are willing to end their pursuit unless the Spanish side drastically lower their demands.

But midfield reinforcements remain high on Ten Hag’s list of priorities and the club are poised to move onto other targets should the deal for De Jong collapse.

Lines of communication with alternative targets have remained open and United bosses have spoken to the representatives of several potential Plan B options.

However, United’s pursuit of a new midfielder is proving to be particularly tricky with Barcelona playing hardball over De Jong, Kalvin Phillips unwilling to swap Leeds for Old Trafford and West Ham demanding a Premier League record fee for Declan Rice.

United had also been interested in another Ajax star, Ryan Gravenberch, but the midfielder elected to join Bayern Munich despite speaking to Ten Hag about a switch to Old Trafford.

The Dutch coach is believed to want two new midfielders, one of which is more creative and attack-orientated and the other being a more defence-conscious ball-winner.

In addition to strengthening the centre of the pitch, Ten Hag also wants to bring in a new central striker, a right winger, a right-back and a centre-back as he looks to overhaul the struggling team he has inherited.

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