Manchester United’s prospects of signing Frenkie de Jong this summer appear to have taken a backwards step amid fresh developments over the Dutch midfielder.
United’s new manager Erik ten Hag begins his job at Carrington on Monday, having called time on his Ajax career six weeks early. And he will begin work immediately on remodelling his playing squad ahead of a busy summer.
The Dutchman is likely to see his new charges play for the first time on Sunday. He will likely be in the stands at Selhurst Park as United face Crystal Palace in their final game of the season.
And with as many as 12 players likely to leave this summer, United will likely have a very different look about them next season.
The 52-year-old will leave no stone unturned in an effort to restore United to greatness. And he will look to bolster all areas of the side, with several players seemingly emerging as targets.
One of Ten Hag’s main missions will be to strengthen United’s midfield. With Paul Pogba leaving, United need a new central midfield signing.
That has led to claims that a deal for De Jong is high on their agenda. To that end, United are reportedly willing to spend as much as £69m to land De Jong.
The Barcelona star is well known to Ten Hag thanks to their time together at Ajax.
However, the Daily Mirror reports that the 25-year-old has stressed to Barcelona that he wants to stay at the club this summer.
Reports last week suggested he was one of nine players Barcelona are willing to move on this summer.
However, De Jong wants to resist his possible stay by making clear to his coach, Xavi, that he wants to stay.
Star is important to Xavi at Barcelona
Xavi himself has recently underlined De Jong’s importance to the Barca cause.
“I haven’t talked with him about his future,” Xavi said. “He is playing at a very good level and has to continue here – he can be one of the best midfielders in the world for years to come.
“If it were up to me, I would continue here for many more years. He is very important and can mark an era here. He has to score, assist and he has to be the protagonist.”
United’s hopes of a deal have been given another setback too.
That’s after the club’s director of football Mateu Alemany denied reports that Barca are already in talks to sell De Jong.
However, he has told Movistar that they are still to decide on his future.
“We have not made any decision regarding the squad,” Alemany said.
“Frenkie is a quality player, he’s very important and we will go from situation to situation.
“We are conditioned by financial fair play, conditioned by the situation inherited by the club. And we at Barcelona understand we must be patient.
“We are clear that we are going to strengthen the team. It is necessary and we want to opt for the titles next year.”
De Jong right to seek Barcelona stay
Truth be told, it’s easy to see why De Jong wants to stay at Barcelona.
The club appears to be heading in the right direction under Xavi’s leadership. Eighth when he took over, Barca on Sunday secured their place as runners-up in the 2021/22 campaign.
And with Champions League football in the bag, a move to Old Trafford would offer only, at best, Europa League football.
Furthermore, De Jong has the belief of his manager. His sale would only be enforced due to economic reasons, with Barcelona ideally wanting to keep him.
Manchester United 'on the cusp' of Frenkie de Jong signing
Manchester United are reportedly 'on the cusp' of signing Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, according to Gerard Romero.
And with Xavi making clear he hopes the player will stay, hopes of a move to link back up with Ten Hag look to be fading for Manchester United.
In addition, the player has made clear his disliking of the Manchester weather in the past. Anyone who has been to Barcelona will know what a lovely, warm climate it is most of the year round.
And while he could likely earn extra money at Old Trafford, the player clearly feels happy in Barcelona and sees no wish to leave.
As a result, United will likely need to look elsewhere in their pursuit of a new midfielder.