The last thing Manchester United fans want to be reading over their cornflakes on a Sunday morning is that Frenkie de Jong has ruled out a move to Manchester United, but these reports are growing thick and fast.
There have been three sources. First, former Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman said that he had spoken to Frenkie recently and that he had told him he wants to stay at Barcelona, period.
The second was a report in Mundo Deportivo yesterday from one of the outlet’s editors saying that “De Jong has no intention of joining United … but Chelsea might be an option”.
The third source was a report from Diario Sport, which listed “ten reasons why Frenkie de Jong refuses to join United”.
It’s all pretty convincing on the surface, but before we throw our cornflake bowl against the kitchen wall in frustration, let’s delve a little deeper into these reports.
Koeman’s words were ““With Frenkie, with Memphis, I have a lot of contact … I know the situation of Frenkie and he said it himself the other day, he wants to stay.
“It was his intention to stay at Barcelona and nothing else. That is the only thing I know.”
This may be perfectly true. De Jong has said himself on camera, twice, that he wants to stay at Barça. But when the writing is on the wall, when the club says you must either leave or take a 50% pay cut, things start to look different.
2. Mundo Deportivo
The problem with the argument that De Jong has ‘no intention’ of joining United is that surely even United’s negotiators would not have got this far without sounding out the player’s camp over his openness to the move.
We also have no reason to doubt reports that Erik ten Hag has spoken to the player personally, with some even claiming the pair are in daily contact.
Of course, sometimes players will have a last minute change of heart, but it seems inconceivable that things would have got this far if the player had simply refused the move.
As for Chelsea as the preferred option, other reports have said the opposite. His respect for Ten Hag and the fact that his compatriot will build the team around him at United could more than compensate for the lack of Champions League football.
The remaining “evidence” all comes from the Diario Sport article:
3. He’s bought a house in Pedralbes
This has to be the weakest reason cited for De Jong refusing United. Footballers buy houses everywhere. In fact, De Jong was reported last week to be battling with Erling Haaland to rent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s old house in Cheshire.
4. His fiancée, Mikky Kiemeney, loves Barcelona
Three words. David de Gea.
5. His childhood dream was Barcelona, not United
This seems to be true, but see (1) above.
6. United aren’t in the Champions League
See (2) above. De Jong said recently he plays better for the Dutch national side than at Barça because of the system. That system allows him to collect the ball from deep and dictate play. At Barcelona he always has to play second fiddle to Busquets and operate higher up the pitch.
Ten Hag’s promise to build his team around him means that De Jong can sparkle and fulfil himself at United, not be a small fish in a big pond as he is at Barça and would be at Chelsea. And there should be every confidence that a return to the Champions League is only a year away.
7. United are jinxed
This boils down to whether De Jong trusts Erik ten Hag to turn things around at United or not. As stated in (2) above, negotiations would not have got this far if he didn’t think he could.
8. Bad weather in Manchester
Really? Would he turn down City then? Or Liverpool for that matter?
9. He is convinced he can adapt to Xavi’s demands
… To play him in a system that doesn’t suit him? See (6) above.
10. He has a good salary at Barcelona
This one makes you want to cry with laughter. Owed €17 million in back pay and being asked to take a 50% pay cut to stay when he was due a pay rise? An improvement in salary has to be a big tick in United’s column. He will be far better off on an Old Trafford contract.
11. He doesn’t like the fact he is being ‘mobbed’ into going, nobody at Barça have had the decency to tell him to his face
This is no doubt true, but who wants to stay where they’re not wanted? And doesn’t this show how determined Barça are to sell him despite publicly claiming he’s not for sale?
12. All contacts have been between Barça and United, he’s not been asked
See (2) above. He has surely been sounded out but United have to be careful not to make direct approaches to the player. This is considered to be unsettling a player and even “tapping up”. They are behaving correctly in negotiating first with the selling club.
Conclusion: these reports should be taken with a pinch of salt. That is not to say that the 25 year old will definitely join United this summer. The situation remains complicated. But if Frenkie de Jong has no intention of joining Man United under any circumstances, then the Red Devils’ negotiators must have been stupid, arrogant, remiss, clumsy and just plain incompetent.
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