Barcelona and Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been linked with a reunion with Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag after playing under his fellow Dutchman at Ajax
Manchester United are continuing with their efforts to bring Frenkie de Jong to Old Trafford, but Barcelona are not believed to be giving up any ground when it comes to a transfer fee for the Dutch international.
With Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic leaving United this summer, midfield reinforcements will be required. Wolverhampton Wanderers star Ruben Neves has been strongly linked, but there is also plenty of talk around De Jong reuniting with manager Erik ten Hag after the pair reached the Champions League semi-finals with Ajax in 2019.
De Jong moved to Camp Nou for €75m (£64m) after that European run, but could be allowed to leave Barcelona as Xavi aims to build a squad to challenge for next season’s La Liga title. However, according to the latest reports, Barca won’t be moved on their transfer demands.
According to The Athletic, Barcelona are in no mood to let the 25-year-old leave at a loss. They are said to want €80m for a player who has been described as being at the “forefront” of United’s summer plans.
United spent big last summer to recruit Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo for around £120m in total. The same report claims their budget under Ten Hag will be similar, questioning whether they would be prepared to pay more than half of it for just one player.
An issue for United is the lack of fees coming in for high earners. Pogba and Matic will both leave for nothing, while Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are all out of contract this summer.
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De Jong joined Ajax from Willem II as a teenager and was 19 when he made his first team debut for the Amsterdam club. However, it was under Ten Hag that he really kicked on.
The central midfielder played more than 50 games in the 2018-19 season, helping Ten Hag’s young side come within a minute of the Champions League final. He impressed in knockout victories over Real Madrid and Juventus, as well as in the last-gasp semi-final loss against Tottenham Hotspur.
De Jong joined Barca when Ernesto Valverde was still at the helm, and has been at Camp Nou during a period of managerial turnover with Quique Setien and Ronald Koeman also having spells in charge before Xavi’s appointment. He played regularly under both Koeman and Xavi this season, but Barca may need to offload one or more of their stars this summer as they pursue targets including Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.