Manchester United are front runners to sign Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong. Spanish journalist Gerard Romero even claimed it is ’95 per cent’ likely the Dutchman will move to Old Trafford.
At the moment the movement appears to be at Barcelona’s end, with the Spanish side looking to cash in on the Dutchman to raise vital new funds.
The Telegraph reports De Jong is a target for United, but nothing is agreed yet. United held a ‘transfer summit’ on Thursday to discuss targets.
There is reason for United to hesitate, because there are arguments to sign De Jong, and against a move. Here is a look into the cases on each side…
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Three reasons why Manchester United should not sign Frenkie de Jong
He has to be convinced: De Jong’s heart is at Barcelona, the club he supported as a boy and dreamed of signing for. Being sold would be a real shock, even to him.
De Jong told The Guardian just in February that he is ‘very happy’ at Barcelona and plans to stay for ‘many more years’.
ESPN report De Jong would really only consider an exit if it was to a Champions League club, leaving United having to convince him and twist his arm.
And is this really where United want to be, having to beg players to join? The pull of United should be enough, regardless of recent performance, and if De Jong is not totally sold on the idea, then this might be a deal United should walk away from.
He doesn’t fix the midfield: Manchester United have been crying out for being a top defensive midfielder for years. That’s not what De Jong is.
The Dutchman would be an expensive addition, costing around £70 million, and then United would still have to sign a defensive midfielder to pair him up with.
This could leave United with another Paul Pogba situation, having a player who is highly talented, but needs the team to be set up around them to succeed. Maybe it’s time for United to try a different approach, rather than repeating the same mistake.
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It hasn’t worked out at Barcelona: Frenkie de Jong was supposed to lead the revolutionary new look of Barcelona’s midfield, but it just hasn’t worked out. Even with Xavi now coaching him, the results have been inconsistent.
The Premier League is even more unforgiving than Barcelona would attest to. De Jong would get less time on the ball, and the expectations would be sky-high. There is no guarantee it would work out and this is a key reason not to sign Frenkie de Jong.
There is also a ‘buyer beware’ warning, with Barcelona suspiciously keen to get rid. They may credit it for financial reasons, but it is also linked to sporting performance, they deem him replaceable, rightly or wrongly, and it would be a gamble for both clubs.
Three reasons why Manchester United must sign Frenkie de Jong
This is a one off chance: Let’s be positive. If we take Barcelona’s financial problems at face value, then this is a real one-off, rare opportunity to sign Frenkie de Jong.
De Jong was loosely linked to United in 2018/19, but he was only ever going to sign for Barcelona. And when he did, that seemed to set him up there for a decade.
Now down to Barcelona’s own mismanagement, there is a chance to land De Jong and talk him around, and United should seize it. This chance may not come again.
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Erik ten Hag wants to figure it out: If there is one manager we can have total faith to figure out De Jong’s best position, system, and adaptation to the Premier League, it is Erik ten Hag.
Ten Hag helped De Jong make a name for himself at Ajax, with the midfielder leading the side to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019. Manager and player have proven they can flourish together.
The new United manager is the club’s trump card to seal a deal, and if Barcelona are pushing him out, then reuniting with his former Ajax boss and starting a new project could be very tempting.
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It could reinvigorate Van de Beek: One of the best aspects about De Jong signing for United is that it would give a new lease of life to his former Ajax teammate Donny van de Beek.
The pair have played together dozens of times, winning trophies together, and have also played in the same team at international level.
Van de Beek is still an asset to United, especially under Ten Hag. Get Frenkie de Jong in the same line-up alongside him, and his prospects are really looking up, it will be like signing two new players instead of one.
Dan is still wondering what would have happened if United had kept Juan Veron…
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