Erik ten Hag’s hopes of bringing Frenkie de Jong to Manchester United this summer appear to be over amid claims that the Red Devils are unable to afford the deal.
The Dutchman is setting to work as United boss this week, having walked out of Ajax six weeks ahead of schedule. Now ensconced at his new Carrington base, Ten Hag is beginning his work on plans for the 2022/23 season. However, raising spirits among a badly under-performing squad will be no easy task.
United’s galaxy of stars have massively underachieved this season with the gap between themselves to Liverpool and Manchester City never wider.
And if reports are accurate, Ten Hag will bid farewell to up to 12 stars in an effort to close that divide next season.
Top of his list of priorities is to find a midfielder who offers United more control of games. Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic are leaving for pastures new, the pair both departing as free agents.
And the jury remains out on Scott McTominay and Fred over whether they have the quality needed against the very best opposition.
As such, it’s little surprise to see them strongly linked with a move for Barcelona’s De Jong.
The midfielder is well known to Ten Hag from their time together at Ajax. The midfielder came through the Ajax academy, starring in their run to the 2019 Champions League semi-finals.
A blockbuster move to Barcelona followed – but it hasn’t been all plain sailing for De Jong in Catalonia.
That has triggered strong interest from United, with Barcelona only wanting rid, it seems, for ‘economic reasons’.
Frenkie de Jong transfer fee too steep
However, Barca are looking to recoup their initial £65m outlay – but it seems that price tag has put United off.
As per the Daily Mail, United have informed De Jong and his representative they will struggle to pay such a high amount.
United, having missed out on Champions League qualification, do not have a huge pit of cash this season.
And while he will have an estimated £80m to spend, he seems unwilling to fire the bulk of it at one player.
With Barcelona unwilling to budge, De Jong has also made clear his willingness to stay.
As such, it seems the transfer is on the verge of breaking down, with the two clubs unable to agree a fee.
Ten Hag will need to look at alternatives
Ten Hag will clearly need to bring in a new midfielder this summer – but may instead need to look at cheaper alternatives.
That could lead him to reconsider a move for one of Ralf Rangnick’s favourites, Amadou Haidara.
The Malian star has a £33m exit clause in his RB Leipzig contract – with the fee seemingly more affordable for Manchester United.
Haidara too, unlike De Jong, appears open to a switch to the Premier League.
Speaking earlier this year, the midfielder was appearing to be keeping an open mind.
Frenkie De Jong staying at Barcelona this summer
Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong wants to stay at Barcelona despite interest from Premier League clubs Manchester United and Manchester City
“The English league is very interesting, many players want to prove their skills there,” he said. “But I feel very comfortable here and I’m glad that I can develop further here. It’s clear that the English league is very interesting for all of us.
“But why should I throw this all away for something I might not be sure about? One wonders whether it’s worth it. Of course, I asked myself this question, but I don’t have an answer because I want to achieve my goals here with RB. That’s what I’m still working for.”
Ten Hag also needs to bring in a new striker and, most likely, a new defender this summer. As such, the United boss may find himself in the rather unusual position of having to sell before he can buy.