Here we go again. Last summer, Manchester United signed Jadon Sancho for less than what Borussia Dortmund had been wanting after a prolonged saga. And lightning may now be set to strike twice amid suggestions they’ve agreed a discounted fee with Barcelona for midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
Last summer, it was an open secret that United wanted to sign Sancho.
The England international had come close to moving to Old Trafford in 2017, when Jose Mourinho was manager, only to end up joining Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund instead.
United were eyeing Sancho in 2019 but, after their failure to secure Champions League qualification, opted to recruit Daniel James.
And, in 2020, they huffed and puffed all summer long only to end up missing out once again.
That year, Dortmund made it clear they wanted a fee close to £108 million to consider letting the winger go.
But United, feeling that the price was far too high, decided to walk away and acquire Edinson Cavani on a free transfer instead.
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Last year, however, the Red Devils finally struck gold.
After weeks worth of negotiations, they were able to agree on a £73m deal for Sancho – who was more than happy to return to the Premier League, having previously spent time at Manchester City.
And, now, it looks like United are going to repeat the trick.
While their pursuit of De Jong hasn’t lasted years like with Sancho, it’s still been protracted. Especially for the journalists having to write about it day in, day out.
It was in April when it became apparent that United would try and land the midfielder, who only moved from Ajax to Barcelona three years ago.
And, since then, the saga has rolled on and on.
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United, at the start, were told they’d have to spend in the region of £89m to land De Jong – the same amount they paid for Paul Pogba six years ago.
Since then, fans have grown impatient. United, in their eyes, have been wasting time by focusing on the 25-year-old for so long.
Manchester City signed Erling Haaland with speed, landing the striker from Dortmund ahead of La Liga and Champions League winners Real Madrid.
And Liverpool were similarly fast as they won the race for Darwin Nunez, who had previously been under consideration at United.
John Murtough and his negotiating team have been tough throughout the entire affair. They’re adamant they won’t overpay and don’t want to be the solution to Barcelona’s financial woes.
And, now, it looks like that patience is set to pay off.
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Reports in Catalonia have claimed De Jong has told Barcelona he’s staying – and wants to be at the club for the next four years.
But, on these shores, the narrative is different. Instead, De Jong is set to soon undergo a medical at United after a £56m fee was agreed on.
That will rise with add-ons but, for Murtough and the Red Devils’ recruitment department, it’s a victory. One that could be huge in the coming years ahead.
United have, for the second time in as many years, been able to successfully negotiate a lower price for their leading target.
And, for Erik ten Hag, that bodes well for the future.
United aren’t expected to stop at the signing of De Jong, with Feyenoord’s Tyrell Malacia also in their sights.
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The Netherlands international is expected to join, having previously looked set for a move to France with Lyon.
United also want to raid Ajax for Lisandro Martinez, too, amid an expectation Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe will depart.
And when it comes to their attack, Ten Hag is eager to reunite with Antony – having coaxed the best from the Brazil international during their spell in Amsterdam together.
With De Jong, United still have some hurdles to overcome. Yet there’s a sense the deal could be announced in the next few days, in time for the player to be involved in the pre-season.
At present, all signs point to him being the next Sancho and touching down from a European rival for far less than originally intended.