The Athelic’s journalist Andy Mitten warns that, just like the 2013 pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, talks for Frenkie de Jong ‘could go on all summer,’ even saying that he ‘wouldn’t be surprised if it ran and ran and ran.’
In the case of the Catalan, Manchester United had the rug pulled out from under them once Fabregas fought his way back into the starting line-up at the Camp Nou.
United will be hoping that history does not repeat itself nine years on, with de Jong having the potential to be the engine of a new-look team under Erik ten Hag.
‘Barcelona have not used him well and under Ten Hag, who did use him well, he could be an amazing player for Manchester United,’ said Mitten on The Athletic’s Talk of the Devils podcast.
The financial difficulties at Barcelona prohibit them from registering new players under La Liga Financial Fair Play rules and the Dutch playmaker is ‘one of the very few Barcelona players who they can get top money for.’
Aside from the financial concerns, the United We Stand editor added ‘they have too many midfielders,’ citing Gavi, Pedri and Busquets as players whose departure would be met with huge fan backlash, with De Jong’s sale a slightly more palatable alternative.
But while ‘Barcelona would like to sell him’ there is still a gap between the two clubs in terms of price.
‘It will boil down to money and valuation,’ because of ‘the huge fee that Barcelona paid for him.’
Barca want to recoup the transfer fee incurred when they signed the Netherlands International from Ajax in a deal worth €86m in 2019.
When asked by Laurie Whitwell if Manchester United were right to haggle over the fee rather than simply paying up and avoiding frustration around the club’s lack of signings, Mitten replied, ‘If you bow to that frustration you end up signing Donny van de Beek.’
While he hopes the returning loanee can still ‘come good’, he points out that his signing was not ‘really well thought out’ with the speed of that particular transfer foreshadowing the lack of a clear plan to integrate the £40m man.
Mitten also points out that United ‘did it the right way’ with Jadon Sancho, who’s £110m valuation at Dortmund one summer became a more reasonable £70m in the next.
Regarding the task of rebuilding the squad, Mitten believes that ‘United have got to find another way of winning,’ asking if it makes sense to ‘blow your entire budget on one player’ when there are so many positions in need of strengthening.
Nevertheless, de Jong is believed to be ‘open to’ a move to Manchester and while ‘Barcelona’s ideal situation is for more people to come in for Frenkie de Jong,’ in order to maximise the fee, Mitten notes that there isn’t ‘anyone else’ vying for the Dutchman’s signature.
As Barcelona edge closer to registration deadlines, it seem that the Red Devils are prepared to wait for the price to come down, in order to get the most out of their transfer budget.