Manchester United have opened talks with FC Barcelona over the transfer of Dutch international Frenkie de Jong.
There have been numerous reports that incoming manager Erik ten Hag has made De Jong his top summer transfer target, after the exits of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic have been confirmed by the club and player, respectively.
Barcelona are believed to be reluctantly willing to sell their midfield maestro if the price is right, such are their financial difficulties.
Sky Sports this morning confirmed that the two clubs have opened talks, but claim that negotiations remain at an early stage.
“Sky Sports News has been told a deal is not close as there would be ‘significant obstacles’ to overcome – notably a fee and the will of the player.”
Manchester United have opened direct talks with Barça for Frenkie de Jong. Price tag around €85m, waiting for opening bid. 🚨 #MUFC
De Jong is still not convinced to leave Barça and he wants UCL football – Man Utd will try to push again as Barça need to solve financial issues. pic.twitter.com/jT18D37sPK
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 1, 2022
The gulf in valuations is not insurmountable but could indicate that United fans are set for a long summer of “will he, won’t he” rumours such as those surrounding the likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland in recent years.
United’s transfer team has changed since those negotiations, but it remains to be seen whether John Murtough, Darren Fletcher and co. are able to be any more pragmatic and decisive as their predecessors, Ed Woodward and Matt Judge.
Fans are also aware that Judge is still at the club until the end of July and still may have some involvement in the De Jong talks.
Nonetheless, the issue of the player not wanting to leave the Camp Neu is seen by many as the biggest problem facing United.
However, as reported here yesterday, a closer inspection of the Dutchman’s comments does reveal that the door was left slightly ajar for the Red Devils.
If United are unsuccessful in their pursuit of De Jong, it is unclear at this stage what the backup options are. There are a number of defensive midfielders linked with a switch to Old Trafford, including the likes of N’Golo Kante, Declan Rice and Amadou Haidara, but few on the list with a more creative profile such as that of the Dutch international.