Manchester United’s pursuit of Frenkie de Jong drags on, with The MEN reporting the club are not giving up.

But after hoping a deal could be struck in time for the Dutchman to head on pre-season tour with the Red Devils, Manchester United will simply be happy to get the move completed by the September 1 deadline.

The delay is frustrating for Manchester United’s coaching staff, and supporters. But it isn’t necessarily bad news for everybody.

In addition to leaving us facing down the barrel of another season starting Fred and Scott McTominay as the club’s first choice pairing, there is an extra chance for James Garner to become the one to break that duo up.

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James Garner benefits from delay

Garner’s pre-season tour didn’t go well. He missed Manchester United’s first three games with injury and then only featured as a late substitute against Aston Villa with a largely back-up side.

On Sunday he got his chance, starting for Manchester United at OId Trafford against Rayo Vallecano as part of a three man midfield with Donny van de Beek and Christian Eriksen.

As auditions go, it went pretty well. If you were expecting Garner to dribble past four players and lash a shot into the top corner, then you haven’t been watching him. That’s not what his game is about. Garner does some of the often unappreciated work to help his team.

Against Rayo he was the deepest of the three midfielders and he did well, mopping up in front of the back four and playing simple, crisp passes to help the team progress upfield.

He kept United ticking over, without showing some of his long-range passing which is one of his strengths, and looked comfortable physically competing against a good level team. His two years playing in the Championship has helped him to toughen up.

In his one start, Garner showed he should be in the mix for game time this season. Regardless of what happens with De Jong. But the delay in signing the Dutchman, or an alternative, may just have saved Garner’s pre-season.

Had De Jong joined on July 20, it likely would have seen Garner left on the bench for Sunday’s game, as the odd man out. Instead he had the chance he needed to stake his claim.

With a jam-packed fixture schedule which sees United play 10 games in all competitions in October. Even without injuries, Garner will see minutes from rotation. Regardless of whether De Jong arrives or not.

He has had the chance to stake his claim and Garner will keep pushing in training. With the De Jong situation dragging towards the deadline, it can benefit the young midfielder over the month of August in particular.

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Also on the radar: Zidane Iqbal

One player who has really seized his chance in pre-season, partly due to Garner’s injuries, has been Zidane Iqbal.

Iqbal came off the bench against Rayo and was a class act, as he was througout July, impressing with his decision making, composure on the ball, and willingess to try and make things happen in the final third.

It’s unclear if Iqbal will stay or be sent out on loan, and again, this could be impacted by Frenkie de Jong’s situation or even Garner’s. But from what we have seen so far, United have a potential star on the books, who new manager Erik ten Hag could really enjoy working with.

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