A change of heart has alerted Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea who are all gunning for the signature of a player Erik ten Hag was desperate to bring to Manchester United, according to reports.
Ten Hag’s first window at Old Trafford didn’t go entirely to plan. Indeed, the club’s pursuit of a new central midfielder focused initially on Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and a multi-month chase ensued.
However, the Dutchman had zero intention of leaving Catalonia for Manchester. Upon finally admitting defeat, United turned their attention to Adrien Rabiot of Juventus.
Further disappointment was to follow when Rabiot’s mother, Veronique – who doubles up as her son’s agent – priced Adrien out of a move with sky high salary demands. United then switched to option number three – Casemiro.
De Jong has remained with Barcelona since that infamous transfer saga and the 26-year-old continues to be among the club’s top performers.
He – along with centre-back Ronald Araujo – had regularly been labelled untouchable despite being among the most saleable assets at the cash-strapped club.
However, it’s beginning to dawn on Barcelona that they must sell before they can buy and between Araujo and De Jong, it’s the centre-back who they’re more determined to keep.
What’s more, amid Barca’s failure to make a dent in the Champions League, Spanish outlet Esport3 claimed De Jong has performed a U-turn on his future.
Per the report, the Dutchman is now ‘willing to leave’ if a suitable opportunity presents itself.
De Jong green light, but Man Utd competition is fierce
That’s rung alarm bells at Man Utd where Ten Hag could yet complete his unfinished business by signing De Jong.
However, according to numerous reports, United now face brutally stiff competition from others among England’s elite.
Firstly, Diario Sport stated that not only are Chelsea in the mix, but the Blues are ‘willing to pay’ up to €100m (£85m) to pull off the coup.
A likely consequence of any De Jong move to Chelsea would be sale of Conor Gallagher. Tottenham are hot for the England international and as a homegrown player, any sale would repreent pure profit on Chelsea’s balance sheet.
But even Chelsea who aren’t likely to be in next season’s Champions League could be stumped.
Clubs in the Saudi Pro League have also shown interest. Though for the time being it’s stated De Jong’s preference is to remain in Europe.
Barcelona are intent on re-signing loan pair Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix once again next season. But while another loan for Felix is taking shape, Man City will reportedly demand any second agreement for Cancelo be a permanent one.
Moves like those are why Barcelona need to raise funds from the sales of players like De Jong.
HITC concluded the only three players who still boast the ‘untouchable’ tag at Barcelona are Gavi, Pedri and Lamine Yamal.