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Frenkie de Jong laughs off Man Utd transfer question on international duty

Manchester United are hoping to sign Frenkie de Jong from Spanish giants Barcelona this summer and reunite their new manager Erik ten Hag with his former Ajax midfielder

Frenkie de Jong played under Erik ten Hag at Ajax
Frenkie de Jong played under Erik ten Hag at Ajax

Frenkie de Jong refused to discuss rumours linking him with a move to Manchester United after Netherlands’ 2-2 Nations League draw against Poland on Saturday evening.

The Barcelona midfielder, 25, was quizzed on his future amid reports he’s heading to England. It’s believed new United manager Erik ten Hag, who worked with De Jong at Ajax, has convinced him to leave Barcelona and join his Old Trafford revolution.

The Dutch coach wants De Jong to be on United’s pre-season tour to Asia and Australia and has urged his employers to act quickly. United’s initial £60million bid for the player was rejected by Barcelona and they are expected to make another, improved offer shortly.

“Are you leaving the Catalan beaches for the cold of Manchester?” a reporter asked De Jong on Saturday evening, to which he laughed and replied: “No… I can’t say anything.”

Barcelona are expected to let De Jong join United. The Catalan giants are still in significant financial trouble after reporting debts of more than £1billion last year, forcing them to release Lionel Messi. De Jong’s sale would go some way to easing their woes.

Several central midfielders have emerged from Barcelona’s La Masia academy in recent years, meaning they’ve got plenty of cover in that department. Riqui Puig, Nico Gonzalez, Gavi and Golden Boy winner Pedri have all impressed since De Jong arrived in July 2019.

Frenkie de Jong is a transfer target for Manchester United
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

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Barcelona agreed a £65m deal with Ajax for De Jong in January 2019. He was expected to be the future of their midfield after inspiring Ten Hag’s Ajax to the Eredivisie title and KNVB Cup in 2018-19. They also reached the Champions League semi-finals that term.

De Jong has made an impact at Barcelona, playing 140 games in three seasons during a difficult time for the club. The 43-cap international helped them win the Copa del Rey in 2020-21 and finish second in La Liga under Xavi last season.

Ten Hag, meanwhile, wants to make United competitive again after a dismal campaign. They finished sixth in the Premier League – recording their lowest points tally since 1989-90 (58) – and haven’t won silverware since their Europa League triumph in May 2017.

Many critics believe United’s weak point is their midfield. Fred and Scott McTominay have both been criticised, while Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic will both leave Old Trafford this summer. Pogba’s contract has expired and Matic has been given a free transfer.

“Man United have a relegation standard midfield at this moment in time,” said Paul Parker in January. “It’s a poor midfield and everybody knows it. Man Utd have names but they don’t have what’s more important than anything and that’s heart, passion and courage.”

United have also said goodbye to Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Lee Grant and Juan Mata this summer. Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial and Dean Henderson are among those rumoured to be on their way out of Old Trafford.

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