Manchester United’s quest to sign Frenkie de Jong could be blindsided by a last-minute approach from Chelsea to sign the player, according to a report.
United’s new manager Erik ten Hag has honed in on the Barcelona star as his No. 1 target of the summer. Seeing an obvious imbalance in United’s midfield, De Jong is seen as the perfect signing to provide more control and leadership to their ranks. And given the number of losses to midfield personnel this summer, De Jong’s capture is, understandably, their main focus.
However, getting a deal over the line has not been easy, either CEO Richard Arnold recently went public over.
Indeed, Barcelona have strongly stuck by their asking price, resisting United’s best efforts to pay a lesser fee up front. Ultimately, United appear to have backed down and are willing to pay Barcelona their apparent £64.8m valuation.
That hasn’t proved the last of their hurdles, however, with reports stating the player has told United he has no intention of signing. However, Sky Deutschland reports Florian Plettenberg insists the signing remains on track and is painting a far rosier picture.
And the Manchester Evening News’ Samuel Lockhurst also claims he expects the deal for De Jong to go through by Friday.
However, The Guardian claims the move may be hijacked by Chelsea.
Chelsea have key advantages in the transfer race
Having got wind of the initial £56.2m fee United are paying up front, the Blues are now reportedly ready to match that fee. And sensing De Jong remains hesitant on joining Manchester Unitedthey are reportedly reading a counter-offer of their own.
Crucially, Chelsea can offer De Jong the Champions League football he craves. Manchester United, by comparison, can only provide Europa League football. The Blues are also seen as stronger contenders to win trophies than United, who are very much in transition.
The report claims Blues boss Thomas Tuchel is on the lookout for a new midfield general this summer. His No. 1 target is Declan Rice, but prying him from West Ham is far from easy.
And a move for De Jong is seen as much easier to secure, with United having already done the transfer negotiation groundworks.
Chelsea have long-term doubts over the future of Jorginho, amid claims he may be returning to Italy this summer.
Frenkie de Jong miss would hit Man Utd hard
There’s no escaping the fact that United is seeing Chelsea hijacking their bid for De Jong would hurt the club badly. Having chased him for so long, they have seemingly put most of their eggs into the De Jong transfer basket.
And with a war chest of around £100m (plus player sales this summer), his signing would take up a large bulk of their funds.
As such, United will need and want the signing wrapped up as soon as possible.
Erik Ten Hag expects Frenkie De Jong to complete Manchester United move
Manchester United manager expects Frenkie De Jong to complete the move from Barcelona this summer, but why?
The interest from Chelsea, though, is most likely genuine. They appear to be in something of a transfer hurry. And new owner Todd Boehly is seemingly keen to make his impact felt.
The Blues are chasing a number of big name defenders, including Matthijs de Ligt and Jules Kounde. They are also working on a deal to take Raphinha to the club from Leeds. However, Barcelona lurk strongly and appear the most likely to win the race.
Failure to land the Brazilian will heap pressure on Boehly as a result. As such, the capture of De Jong from under United’s noses would be seen as the signing statement he needs. But what a blow to United it would prove.