De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links in June
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Manchester United believe they’re being unfairly criticised when it comes to their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong, according to reports. The Netherlands international is Erik ten Hag’s main objective for the summer transfer window. But, with less than a month to go until it slams shut, the midfielder’s future remains uncertain.
Manchester United want to sign De Jong and have spent three months pursuing the Barcelona star.
A fee has been agreed between the two clubs, with the Red Devils willing to pay an initial £63million for the player – with that fee set to rise to a total of £72m once add-ons and bonuses are taken into consideration.
United are refusing to give up on the 25-year-old, who previously dazzled under Ten Hag at Ajax.
Yet the Manchester Evening News say the Red Devils are ‘baffled’ at the criticism that is being levelled their way.
It’s claimed they feel Barcelona are the more dysfunctional club due to the fact the ‘messy situation’ between the player and the La Liga giants is their issue to deal with.
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The Catalan giants owe De Jong around £14m to £17m in deferred wages after he agreed to take a pay cut at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
And Barcelona have so far been reluctant to pay the midfielder what he deserves, despite spending big on reinforcements such as Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde.
Barcelona have also stressed that, if De Jong is to stay at the Nou Camp, he must take a pay cut.
But he has no inclination to do that right now, with the Netherlands international believing the La Liga giants must stump the cash.
United are refusing to target De Jong alternatives for the time being, despite links to the likes of Ruben Neves, Youri Tielemans and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
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And they’re frustrated at the delay to the deal, having spent over 12 weeks locked in talks for the player.
To make matters worse, United are no longer the club only club eyeing De Jong amid the uncertainty over his Barcelona future.
Chelsea have also emerged as potential suitors for the former Ajax star, with Thomas Tuchel eager to win the Premier League title next term.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have already spent big on the likes of Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, who have arrived from Manchester City and Napoli respectively.
But Chelsea also want a new midfielder at a time where N’Golo Kante is starting to become more injury-prone.
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Blues owner Todd Boehly, who recently purchased the club from Roman Abramovich, is on the lookout for more statement signings.
And De Jong would certainly tick that box, especially given all the work United have put into a deal so far.
While the Red Devils have faced criticism for their lengthy pursuit of the midfielder, Lee Sharpe recently praised the way they’ve negotiated the deal.
“I think the manager will have a really good relationship with him,” he said.
“It’s a little bit of paperwork and Manchester United are going about it pretty professionally.
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“It’s a shame that it’s taking so long. But I think if the manager really wants him, and that’s his No 1 target, they have to be patient and try to get it across the line as soon as they can.”
He then added: “What a player. A marquee player.
“I think he’s Erik ten Hag’s No 1, on his list.
“If they can get him across the line, fingers crossed they can, I think he would be an amazing signing.”
United would also like to sign a forward before the transfer window shuts – with Benjamin Sesko one player under consideration.
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