De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links
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Manchester United want Frenkie de Jong. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two months – which given this heatwave would be understandable – that’s an open secret. However, it’s still looking increasingly unlikely they’ll be able to land the Barcelona star this summer.
Manchester United have agreed a fee for De Jong, with Erik ten Hag’s side ready to pay an initial £63million to bring the Netherlands international to Old Trafford.
Yet, on Wednesday, several worrying updates dropped.
First, there were claims that De Jong had told Barcelona team-mates that he would be staying put – despite the club’s best efforts to get him off their wage bill.
And it was also reported the midfielder had told Ten Hag that he wouldn’t be moving to Old Trafford, meaning the matter was closed.
Now, it’s looking likely that United will miss out on De Jong. Given the club’s business in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, that’s a hammer blow.
So Express Sport will now take a look at 10 players the club have failed to acquire over the years, with a potentially disastrous De Jong repeat now on the cards.
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Cesc Fabregas (2013)
Back in 2013, United wanted to land Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.
David Moyes earmarked the Spain international as a priority target, believing he could add a new dimension to his side’s midfield.
But though United huffed and puffed, their pursuit was to no avail. Fabregas stayed at Barcelona that year before going on to join Chelsea 12 months later, where he’d win two Premier League titles.
Arturo Vidal (2014)
Arturo Vidal was one of Louis van Gaal’s top targets when the Dutchman took over in 2014.
But the Chile international decided to stay at Juventus, turning down the advances of the Red Devils.
Kevin Strootman was also linked at the time but make no mistake about it: Vidal was very much Van Gaal’s main aim.
Thomas Muller (2015)
Van Gaal, the following year, set his sights on an audacious move for Thomas Muller.
The Germany international was becoming a marquee name at this point, especially after winning the World Cup 12 months previously.
Yet Bayern never had any interest in letting Muller go, while the player himself was far too happy in Bavaria to entertain a move to the Premier League.
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Mats Hummels (2016)
Jose Mourinho got his way with the majority of United’s transfer business back in 2016.
Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly all joined from Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal respectively.
But Mats Hummels failed to arrive, with the German later saying: “There just was not that one English club where the overall package was fitting.
“The overall package means: a club which fascinates me; a club I have always wanted to join, and where the sporting constellation is right, and which of course plays Champions League football next season.
“And because of the latter one club was ruled out, and you can envision which club that was.”
Antoine Griezmann (2017)
When United qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League in 2017, Mourinho immediately targeted a deal for Antoine Griezmann.
The France international was willing to come, too, claiming there was a ‘six out of 10’ chance he’d make the move.
But, then, Atletico were slapped with a transfer ban. Griezmann stayed out of loyalty, before then joining Barcelona two years later.
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Harry Maguire and Toby Alderweireld (2018)
In 2018, Mourinho made it clear – both privately and publicly – that he wanted new defenders.
Harry Maguire and Toby Alderweireld were both on the Portuguese’s wishlist after shining for Leicester and Tottenham respectively.
Yet United felt fees for the pair were too high. Mourinho was forced to do without and, mere months later, lost his job following a torrid start to the season.
Jadon Sancho (2019)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, upon taking over at United, felt his team needed a right-winger.
And Jadon Sancho was his top target, having seen the former Manchester City youngster shine at Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund made it clear he wouldn’t be allowed to leave, however, while United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League counted against them as well.
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Jadon Sancho (2020)
Sancho was actually pursued again in 2020.
This time, United gave everything. They spent weeks negotiating with Dortmund but, at £108m, the forward was deemed too pricey.
United then decided to sign Edinson Cavani on transfer deadline day, while youngsters Amad and Facundo Pellistri were snapped up as well.
Ruben Neves (2021)
United produced three big signings last year in Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But, late in the window, Solskjaer asked for funds to be made available to sign a midfielder amid interest in Ruben Neves.
Obviously, a transfer failed to materialise. Which is part of the reason Ten Hag is so keen to secure the arrival of De Jong, no matter what it costs.
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