Tom Parsons of The Daily Express this morning says that Manchester United should be scared of rivals Chelsea after their £62 million acquisition of Brighton’s Marc Cucurella.
The outlet argues that the signing signals new owner Todd Boehly’s spending power and the likelihood he will do what it takes to steal Frenkie de Jong from under United’s nose.
Cucurella has become the fifth new signing of the Boehly era, following the arrivals of Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka and Gabriel Slonina.
And with De Jong’s price tag less than £5 million more than Cucurella’s, “they would surely spend even more on players who have already proven they have what it takes to perform at the very top of the game,” Parsons says.
Another reason to think that Boehly might be serious in his intentions to hijack United’s De Jong deal is the fact that Chelsea’s whole summer seems to have centred around hijackings and gazumpings, both by them and against them.
Cucurella was close to a Manchester City move, Chukwuemeka was being chased by Liverpool, Slonina seemed to be heading for Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, Barcelona gave the Blues a taste of their own medicine by snatching Raphinha and Jules Koundé just as they were about to put pen to paper at Stamford Bridge.
Boehly, it seems, likes a duel. So why wouldn’t he come in for De Jong?
£34 million on 31-year-old Koulibaly, £20 million on 18-year-old Chukwuemeka, who he could have signed for free 12 months later, £12 million on a backup keeper, £47.5 million on the struggling Sterling and £62 million on Cucurella … and what would have been £100 million on Raphinha and Koundé … what’s an extra £67 million for Frenkie?
On the one hand, United fans might be scared. The spending has carried on, or maybe even increased, where the departed Roman Abramovic left off. Not just a case of who wins the De Jong race, this is about Chelsea being in a different league than United when it comes to spending power.
But on the other hand, Chelsea’s spending looks haphazard, badly judged and out of control. Where is the strategy? Where is the continuity? The signings and the amounts involved seem all over the place. Who has stepped into Marina Granovskaia’s shoes to steer the ship? Or is it now more like a runaway train?
Harry Redknapp may be right that De Jong will choose Chelsea over United, but is there a clear strategy that sees him employed alongside Kanté, Jorginho, Kovacic and Gallagher? He could find himself in the same situation he has been in at Barcelona, playing out of his natural position to accommodate the stars around him.
At United, there is a plan and a system in place and the 25 year old’s exact role will be defined. At United, the Dutchman can become the player he was destined to be.
There is a reason that Chelsea fans are the second most pessimistic in the Premier League this season despite Boehly splashing all the cash like it has been burning a hole in his pocket. De Jong might do well to ask himself what it is.
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