Chelsea are set to rival Manchester United for the signing of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong if reports from Spain are to be believed.
The Dutch international has been heavily linked with a move to the Red Devils in a reunion with his former manager. Reportedly United’s primary target in the transfer window, Chelsea has entered the frame to gazump the Old Trafford club for the services of the 25-year-old.
The London club is said to be ‘warming’ up to the prospect of bringing in the United target and adding him to their midfield ranks that consists of the likes of Ngolo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, and Mason Mount.
The midfielder has been labeled as ‘vital’ to United and manager Erik ten Hag’s plans, who view him as the perfect midfield signing for his new-look side. Initially, Old Trafford looked like De Jong’s most likely destination, with reports suggesting a fee worth £56.2m plus add-ons had been agreed with the Blaugrana.
It was revealed that the former Ajax player’s switch to the Theatre of Dreams is being held up by about £17m he is owed in deferred salary payments by the Spanish giants, who are working with the player’s representatives and United to resolve the issue.
In a double Dutch swoop, Chelsea are said to be keen on re-uniting De Jong with former Ajax teammate Matthijs de Ligt who is Thomas Tuchel’s primary defensive target in his rebuild of the club’s backline ahead of the new season.
Spanish news outlet Sport reported that Chelsea, who are ready to go up against United for the 25 year old, would look into using club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Spanish left-back Marcos Alonso as heavyweights in any deal to bring the midfielder to Stamford Bridge. However, it is more likely that any negotiations involving players switching to either side would be treated as separate and independent transactions.
With the Blues’ registered interest in the Dutch midfield maestro, the Spanish giants may look to spark a bidding war between both English clubs in what may gear up to be a protracted and heavily contested transfer battle as both clubs look to outbid each other.
Speaking about De Jong and rumors about his exit, Barcelona President Joan Laporta remarked, ” He [De Jong] is a Barca player. And unless we feel the need or the interest to sell him we won’t do it. Frenkie de Jong isn’t for sale. We know he has offers and if at a given moment we are interested in selling him then we would think about it.”
A factor that may come into play that may yet worry numerous United fans and swing the pendulum in Chelsea’s favor is the fact that the London club can offer Champions League football. This was reported as a major sticking point for De Jong during negotiations with the Red Devils. Many United fans will be hoping that Ten Hag will be successful in persuading his former player to join him at Old Trafford ahead of Chelsea.
Despite the Chelsea interest and issues around the player’s deferred wages, there remains careful optimism and confidence within United that a deal for De Jong will get over the line.
It is clear that Barcelona are putting pressure on interested clubs like United to finalize a deal for the Dutchman. It is crucial that United ensure they tie him up ahead of Chelsea and secure Ten Hag his primary target.
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