Manchester United’s top transfer target this summer, Frenkie de Jong, is no doubt a fit for Erik ten Hag’s midfield plans. He’s no doubt a good talent to try and construct the new team around. He’s also someone who seems available given recent reports and Barcelona’s ambitions to shake off the last few seasons and commit to Xavi’s vision.
That all hinges on Frenkie de Jong’s own say however, and there’s every reason why he should be skeptical of making a big money move to Manchester United.
Manchester United have been riding on name alone for years now. They’re starting their fourth rebuild since 2013 with a fifth permanent managerial appointment, and bringing in de Jong will likely take up most of the transfer budget for the summer. The midfield needs much more than just de Jong, so would his arrival negate added reinforcements?
Will de Jong be another expensive star signing expected to solve all of United’s problems in that area of the pitch? If so, that’s another thing likely weighing on his mind, as Manchester United fans have developed a bit of a reputation for sending abuse their star players’ way.
It’s not an easy thought right now to look at United and want anything to do with it. Erik ten Hag made that decision, and he seems ready enough for what that challenge will entail, and maybe that confidence will resonate with de Jong.
A few days ago, Frenkie de Jong said that he was more comfortable with the style of play of the Dutch national team than with the role he has at Barcelona. The role that he would have at #mufc is similar to that of the Dutch team #mulive [@marca]— utdreport (@utdreport) June 8, 2022
There’s no doubt the player could be a big part of the solution to Manchester United’s midfield, but it’s unfair to place that burden completely on him. He absolutely cannot be the only midfielder brought in this summer, he cannot be asked to carry the weight of the fanbase’s expectations for a return to glory. He needs structure and backing in the team around him to maximize his production.
If Manchester United are to grow from past mistakes under new leadership, this is where they put their money where their mouth is. Frenkie de Jong either needs to be the first of many to fix a position group, or evaluated to decide if money is better spent on other players and addressing more needs. The club needs to learn from the Angel Di Maria, the Paul Pogba, the Harry Maguire transfers and take better care with their team-building operations, or risk further embarrassment that others have to absorb for them.
There is no quick fix. There is however a process that can begin with de Jong and lead to a fix. It just has to be a process.