Manchester United has begun talks with Barcelona about buying Frenkie de Jong, with the Spanish club’s financial constraints implying that a transfer of a midfielder worth around €85 million (£72.4 million) may be of a great gain.
De Jong, who is hesitant to leave Barcelona, does not see United as a top option if he is forced to leave. Their lack of Champions League football next season is a huge stumbling block in persuading the 25-year-old to join, especially given the competition.
Erik ten Hag, United’s manager, coached De Jong at Ajax for two seasons, culminating in the 2018-19 Eredivisie title and a run to the Champions League semi-finals. Should an agreement with Barcelona be reached, Ten Hag and John Murtough, United’s football director who are leading negotiations, would hope that their prior effective working relationship may persuade De Jong to sign.
United’s midfield has been a stumbling block in recent seasons, and now that Nemanja Matic has left and Paul Pogba’s exit was confirmed on Wednesday, Ten Hag is left with only Fred and Scott McTominay as frontline players.
Pogba joined United for a then-British record £93.2 million in 2016 and is departing on a free transfer for the second time, having done so in 2012 when he joined Juventus for free. The Frenchman has turned down Manchester City’s efforts and may return to Juventus, although he is also desired by PSG.
Pogba’s mention of fans in his goodbye speech on social media raised huge eyebrows because his relationship with the United’s fans had sour before he bowed out this summer.
Pogba tweeted, “I feel honored to have played for this club. Many great moments and memories, but most importantly, the fans’ unwavering support. Thank you very much.”
While the club announced: “Everyone at the club would like to congratulate Paul on his successful career, and thank him for his contributions to Manchester United. We wish him all the best for the next steps on a remarkable journey.”
Ten Hag is also interested in signing Ajax defender Jurrien Timber, who could fetch almost €50 million. Currently, the 20-year-old considers United to be a club he would like to join.
Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard will leave United this summer after 22 years with the club, which he joined as a schoolboy.