Erik ten Hag remains convinced Manchester United can win the transfer race for Frenkie de Jong amid claims Chelsea are now firmly in the driving seat for the Barcelona star, claims a report.
United’s new boss Ten Hag has locked on to the midfielder as his prime summer target. Indeed, he sees his countryman as the perfect solution after identifying the Red Devils midfield as an area of weakness. However, efforts to bring De Jong to Old Trafford have most likely turned out far harder than anyone ever expected.
After spending several weeks negotiating a fee with Barcelona, the two sides eventually found common ground. That arrangement will see United pay an initial £63m, with add-ons taking the deal through the £72m barrier.
But agreeing a fee for De Jong was only just the start of United’s seemingly never-ending quest.
Indeed, De Jong himself has staunchly dug his heels in over the prospective move. And a report citing 10 reasons why De Jong plans to reject a move to Old Trafford will not have gone down well.
However, United have clung in there and have refused to walk away from a prospective deal.
And fresh in United’s mind is the fact that Barcelona do want De Jong gone. The issue of his sale is complicated by a deferred wages agreement. To that end, the LaLiga giants still owe De Jong some £14.4m (€17m) in wages.
So desperate are for United to seal the deal, however, that a report claims they are willing to make up that shortfall.
Either way, and with the clock ticking, Barcelona president Joan Laporta is reported to have put a deadline on the potential transfer.
That said, those hopes took something of a downturn over the last few days amid claims Chelsea are also keen.
Ten Hag urges Man Utd to stay the course over Frenkie de Jong
The Blues are armed with a hefty transfer warchest, with ambitious new owner Todd Boehly keen to make a mark.
And Thomas Tuchel’s side also have the added advantage of being able to offer De Jong Champions League football.
However, as per Sport, Ten Hag remains unflustered by Chelsea’s interest and remains confident of a reunion with De Jong.
They state, with director of football John Murtough getting frustrated by the saga and wanting to consider alternatives, that Ten Hag has instructed him to hold his nerve.
Convinced that Barcelona simply have to sell, he has also told Murtough to see the deal through.
And the Manchester United boss believes his strong relations with De Jong from their Ajax days will ensure a move to United comes to fruition.
Furthermore, it is claimed Ten Hag also held a personal phone call with De Jong earlier this week. In the chat, Ten Hag reportedly reassured De Jong that his interest remains as strong as ever.
In addition, he has also reportedly spoken to the player over his role in the United side.
De Jong has dropped down the pecking order at Barcelona, with Pedri, Gavi, Sergio Busquests and Franck Kessie all ahead of him.
The player knows he will need regular football to secure his place in the Netherlands’ World Cup squad, giving Ten Hag further belief.
United taking a calculated risk over transfer
Truth be told, much of the entire 2022/23 season rests on United being able to get this deal over the line.
Having put in so much time and effort into the deal, the club would look silly were he to move to Chelsea instead.
To that end, Ten Hag is very much gambling on his past relations with De Jong to see the deal through.
Indeed, much of Ten Hag’s planning has evolved around adding De Jong to his midfield.
He can give United much more balance and control; something they lacked against better opposition last season.
Sitting deep and just in front of the defence, United will hope he can set the tempo and better protect their defence.
And accurate passer of the ball, Ten Hag knows exactly how to get the best out of the star.
Could a potential Frenkie De Jong transfer hold the key to Manchester United's centre-back partnership this season?
Would missing out on the signing of Frenkie de Jong for Manchester United mean a different centre-back partnership will be formed than the one Erik ten Hag wants judging from pre-season?
As such, he will very much hope and expect the deal to go through.
The one thing we can say for certain, though, is that Barcelona do have to sell. Their constant struggles to balance the books means they have to get Frenkie de Jong off their wage bill.
His £140,000 a week salary will be put to use elsewhere. And the huge transfer fee they are due to receive from United will also help enormously.