Man Utd's worst ever Premier League season
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Manchester United could hold a crucial weapon in their pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong. Erik ten Hag wants to reunite with the 25-year-old after their successful relationship at Ajax, but United face an ‘uphill battle’ to persuade him to start his former boss’ rebuild.
Ten Hag reportedly wants two midfielders, a centre-back and a striker in his first transfer window at the club, and De Jong poses as an enticing replacement for Paul Pogba. But the Blaugrana star is understood to want a Camp Nou stay, and if financial woes force him out the exit door, he would prefer to join a club in next season’s Champions League.
Despite De Jong’s current stance, United could tempt him to make the switch by confirming Cristiano Ronaldo’s future as soon as possible. Ronaldo has the option of extending his Red Devils stay by a further season, but finishing outside of the top-four has left his status uncertain.
However, Ten Hag could persuade De Jong to join the start of his revolution by informing him that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be at Old Trafford until 2023. Many players of the current generation will aspire to play with Ronaldo before he calls time on his iconic career, and the Netherlands international could be one of them.
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In April 2019, Ronaldo netted the opening goal of Juventus’ 1-1 draw against De Jong’s Ajax in their Champions League quarter-final first leg. And after full-time, the midfield ace was in awe of his ‘quality’, particularly of headed goals.
He told Sportstar: “You know when Ronaldo gets the ball in that area, and he’s going for the header, you’re almost sure he’ll score. He’s done this for 15 years. So that’s a class quality of his. It’s such a great quality. It’s not that I can’t enjoy watching him, but I take a bow for his quality.”
Ajax went on to dump Juventus out of Europe’s elite competition with a 2-1 second-leg victory in Turin. And Ten Hag was seconds away from guiding his side into the final before Tottenham’s stunning late comeback in Amsterdam.
But the run with such a young, inexperienced team was one of many green marks on the Dutch coach’s CV that helped him land the job at Old Trafford. And will hope De Jong soon warms to the idea of working under him again to start his summer dealings with a bang.
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