Man Utd target Frenkie de Jong’s four-word response to question on ditching Barcelona
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Frenkie de Jong could not contain his laughter when pressed on whether he would be trading Barcelona for Manchester United this summer. New Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag is reportedly pushing hard to land the Dutchman, with whom he worked at Ajax, in a big-money deal that could progress over the coming days.
United’s links with De Jong have been known for some time as Ten Hag looks for a star worthy of becoming the centrepiece of his new midfield. Paul Pogba is set to leave Old Trafford, among others, which creates more than enough space for the Dutchman to stamp his authority on the middle of the park.
And with Barcelona still in a tough financial position, it appears as though auctioning off De Jong is a necessary evil for them this summer. With the stars beginning to align, one reporter posed the question on everybody’s minds after the Netherlands drew with Poland on Saturday.
“Are you leaving the Catalan beaches for the cold of Manchester?” he asked, before De Jong burst out laughing, seemingly in the knowledge that the inevitable question was coming, and responded: “I can’t say anything.”
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Although the player opted not to give much away, the comment still suggests that there is plenty going on behind the scenes. It also revealed that he has not personally ruled out a Barcelona exit, despite stating earlier this month that his preference would be to continue at the club.
It seems as though Ten Hag’s personal touch may have swung the pendulum towards Old Trafford. The 52-year-old has supposedly promised the former Ajax ace a starring role in the Red Devils’ midfield, which may be sufficient for De Jong to change his tune despite having to wave goodbye to Champions League football for at least one season.
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And breaking back into the top four next campaign is by no means guartanteed going by the rate at which sides around United are looking to strengthen. Liverpool and Manchester City are expected to go at it again next campaign, while it would be a surprise if Tottenham didn’t kick on after a productive summer which has already landed esteemed boss Antonio Conte with a number of his top targets.
That could leave just one top-four spot up for grabs, and Ten Hag will naturally hope that the prospective arrival of De Jong makes the difference. But his services won’t come cheap. United have already had a bid of around £60million turned down, and it may take somewhere closer to £73m to get the deal done.
That would tear through a fair chunk of the club’s transfer budget for Ten Hag’s first summer at the helm, despite the need for several other positions to be spruced up. Many fans have called for Aaron Wan-Bissaka to be replaced, while the likes of Jurrien Timber and Pau Torres have been linked at centre-back.
Reinforcements up top are not out of the question either, especially now that Liverpool appear to have pipped them to the signing of Benfica marksman Darwin Nunez.
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