Manchester United close to £69m Frenkie de Jong deal

·3 min read
Manchester United close to £69m Frenkie de Jong deal - GETTY IMAGES
Manchester United close to £69m Frenkie de Jong deal - GETTY IMAGES

Manchester United are nearing the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era with negotiations for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong on the verge of a £69 million agreement.

Ten Hag will take his first training session as United manager on Monday and appears likely to soon be re-united with a familiar face in the form of De Jong, with the 25-year-old’s move to Old Trafford edging closer over the weekend.

Having originally held out for €85m (£73.2m), Barcelona instantly rejected an opening offer of around £56m from the Premier League club at the start of last week.

But negotiations appear to have hit upon a compromise price of €80m (£69m) which represents a €5m profit for the selling club on the fee they paid Ajax for his services three summers ago.

Sources at both ends of the deal claim that talks are progressing well although United have yet to start discussing personal terms with the Dutch international.

Those discussions are not expected to be problematic and United hope that they may have the deal finalised as early as the end of this week.

De Jong, who made a brief substitute appearance for Ajax as a 20-year-old against United in the 2017 Europa League final, blossomed under Ten Hag when he took over the Dutch giants later that year.

And the new United manager has identified him as the solution to one of the biggest areas of concern in United’s under-achieving squad; central midfield.

Dani Carvajal of Real Madrid and Frenkie de Jong of Ajax battle - GETTY IMAGES
Dani Carvajal of Real Madrid and Frenkie de Jong of Ajax battle - GETTY IMAGES

The departure of Paul Pogba, who is expected to formalise his return to Juventus in the coming days, has also created space in United’s midfield.

Another former Ten Hag favourite, the Brazilian winger Antony, is a further Ajax connection that United are pursuing although those talks are nowhere near as advanced and, publicly at least, the Dutch club insist they want to keep the 22-year-old.

But the arrival of De Jong would represent United’s first incoming of the season, with the current delay in new arrivals alarming supporters in the wake of widespread upheaval throughout their club’s management structure - especially as a number of Premier League rivals have taken significant strides in the transfer market.

Indeed, Ten Hag’s first training session saw him in charge of a squad that showed no upgrade on the one that performed so dismally last season.

The Dutchman started training with just 15 senior players, with anyone involved on international duty this summer allowed extra holiday before reporting to the club.

That means Ten Hag is yet to meet with Cristiano Ronaldo, amid growing reports that the iconic forward is yet to be convinced by the “rebuild” that United so clearly need.

His high-profile agent Jorge Mendes has been reportedly surveying options for Ronaldo if he fails to see the “ambition” that he is said to be looking for, in order to commit himself to another season at Old Trafford.

The position of United and Ten Hag has been unequivocally that they want Ronaldo to remain, even though he will turn 38 early in 2023.

But, even though Bayern Munich have publicly distanced themselves from potential interest in Ronaldo, a Mendes meeting with new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly last week did little to quash rumours that the agent is exploring alternatives for his most famous client.