Soccer

Frenkie de Jong ‘tells Barcelona when he will consider Man Utd transfer’ as saga goes on

De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links in June

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Frenkie de Jong has made it known he will only consider a move to Manchester United once his wage issue with Barcelona is resolved, according to reports. Erik ten Hag is determined to reunite with his former Ajax midfielder at Old Trafford. But, as the clock ticks on, there’s still no end to the saga in sight.

Manchester United have spent three months pursuing De Jong, with Ten Hag still believing a deal can be struck.

The Netherlands international previously played under the 52-year-old at Ajax, helping them win the Eredivisie title and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League that same year.

Yet Forbes say De Jong has made it known he will only remotely consider leaving Barcelona once his wage issue is sorted.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the 25-year-old agreed to take a pay cut like many of his team-mates.

That means Barcelona now owe him between £14million and £17m in deferred wages.

United have, according to reports, shown a willingness to cover the costs involved as they look to finally bring De Jong to Old Trafford.

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But De Jong seems to want the money from Barcelona themselves, rather than having the Red Devils stump up the cash.

It is, however, a messy situation.

And De Jong’s preference is still to stay at Barcelona, having struggled for consistency throughout his three years in Catalonia so far.

Signed by Ernesto Valverde, the Spaniard failed to get the best from the midfielder during his time in the dugout.

Quique Setien was a similar case, with the 63-year-old struggling to coax wonders from any Barcelona player during his brief stint in charge.

Under Ronald Koeman, De Jong was mainly used as a centre-back – despite being a midfielder by trade.

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And Xavi has often rotated the Netherlands international since taking over in November and has used De Jong as a defender during pre-season so far.

United remain convinced there’s a deal to be struck.

And they’re refusing to walk away from a deal for the Barcelona star, having been emboldened by his good relationship with Ten Hag.

If they do miss out, however, it’s possible they’ll pursue alternatives – with several names being linked.

Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are both admired by United but, due to their failure to qualify for the Champions League, any moves for the pair will have to wait a year.

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Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s name has done the rounds once more, having flourished for Lazio by scoring 11 Serie A goals last term.

Ruben Neves was on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s radar prior to the Norwegian’s sacking and is thought to be admired by the United hierarchy.

And Youri Tielemans is another option, though Arsenal appear to be frontrunners in the race to land the Leicester star instead.

Meanwhile, United legend Gary Neville believes his old side have plenty riding on the deal for De Jong this summer.

“There’s a lot on that De Jong deal,” said Neville. “Just generally. Not just for the team but for the club, the new operation, so they can get a deal over the line.

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“There are three scenarios. One is that they get him, they look smart, they look patient, they look like they’ve bided their time and got the deal that they wanted.

“Or, he stays at Barcelona. Which I think could be slightly embarrassing given the relationship the manager’s got with the player.

“Or the horrific outcome is that, he doesn’t just leave Barcelona, he goes to Chelsea – a competitor in the Premier League.

“That wouldn’t be a good outcome for United’s recruitment department. I think that would cause problems in the next few weeks.

“At the moment, it might be in two or three weeks Ronaldo settles down, says he’s staying, the football they’ve played in pre-season has been great, they might get De Jong over the line, all of a sudden you’re thinking: oh wow, it could be United.”

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