Remember when a relative would give you some cash, and they would say something along the lines of, “don’t spend it all in one place”?
Well, the new United boss, Erik ten Hag, seems poised to try and do just that as his and Manchester United’s interest in Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong continues.
As reported by Laurie Whitwell in The Athletic, Barcelona's continued financial complications have put them in a situation where they could put de Jong in the shop window. The Dutch midfielder has been a good player for the Spanish giants and is in favor with Xavi. However, with a reported price tag of €80 million (roughly £68 million), de Jong can be had — especially if United are tactful in negotiations knowing Barça aren’t in the strongest financial position.
The purchase of de Jong could complicate the accounting in Manchester. Ten Hag has a reported transfer budget of between £100 and £150 million, and de Jong could represent a massive chunk of the allocated funds.
Furthermore, de Jong is wary of a move to Manchester since the club will be playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League, unlike Barcelona.
But the prospect of signing de Jong is exciting considering ten Hag’s commitment to fixing United’s biggest problem area.
Erik ten Hag wants to sort #mufc’s midfield first before moving onto other positions. He does not wish to commit funds on a striker or centre-back that would then be detrimental to options in the heart of his team #mulive [@lauriewhitwell]— utdreport (@utdreport) May 28, 2022
De Jong coming to Manchester to reunite with ten Hag and former Ajax teammate Donny van de Beek is an interesting proposition. Additionally, it’s reported that N’Golo Kante is a possibility as Chelsea looks to recoup some money with the French midfielder going into the final year of his contract.
In this scenario, de Jong would likely fill the void left by Pogba, and Kante (when he’s healthy) could fill the role of McFred. The centerbacks would have better coverage in front of them while the team could play with more possession and more quickly cycle the ball to players like Bruno Fernandes, van de Beek, and the players out wide — at least that’s how I’m going to do it in Football Manager.
Ultimately, the interest seems legitimate at this point. If ten Hag can convince his former midfielder to buy into the United project, it sounds like United and Barça can get a win-win deal over the line.
The current crop of midfielders is not equipped to play the style that ten Hag was successful with at Ajax, and the pursuit of a player like de Jong definitely gives us some hope as the midfield has required upgrading for a long time.
It’s going to be an interesting summer.