Manchester United have rejected the chance to sign Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona but have opened discussions to secure the services of his teammate, Frenkie de Jong, instead.
However, despite president Joan Laporta’s interest in the Uruguayan, new manager Xavi is believed to be cool on the idea, leaving De Jong as the only name left on the table.
United are reported to have met with an FC Barcelona delegation in Manchester recently, where an offer of €55 million (£46.75m) was mooted for the 24-year-old, but Barcelona want more.
‘Barça came to the meeting with the idea of offering Philippe Coutinho [but] United are not willing to take on Coutinho,’ the outlet reports.
‘On the other hand, there was also talk of the Red Devils’ Uruguayan striker, Edinson Cavani, whose transfer seems to be welcomed by Joan Laporta, but not Xavi Hernández.
‘In this context of respective refusals, the English explained that they are interested in a Blaugrana footballer, but that is not Coutinho, but Frenkie De Jong.
‘Ralf Rangnick … has always been known for signing young players, with a great physical presence and potential, and that is the perfect fit for the former Ajax player…
‘The English are willing to reach around €55 million for taking over the services of the Dutchman, a figure that Barça do not even consider accepting.’
The article goes on to discuss the fee Barcelona paid for the Dutchman, some €86 million (£73m), the four and a half years left on his contract and his €90 million (£76m) valuation on transfermarkt.com, before revealing the Blaugrana’s bottom line figure.
‘Barça … will not negotiate any operation for the footballer that is below €70 million (£59m).
‘Despite setting that price as a minimum to negotiate, Barça’s intention is in no case is to get rid of the midfielder, whom Xavi sees as a key and untouchable player in the midfield.
‘However, the club’s economic situation forces Laporta to study all the offers that different teams send him.’
The fact that such a transfer has even been discussed by the two clubs will be music to the ears of United fans, most of whom see the defensive midfield position as the biggest weakness in their star-studded side.
As discussed here last week, De Jong would be a Rolls Royce signing for the position and a figure of around £60 million is certainly not beyond the Red Devils’ capabilities.
It is highly unlikely that this is a deal that would happen in the January window but it is certainly one to watch develop with a view to the summer.